Resistance Bookshelf is a new series for the MFA in Creative Writing Program, in which faculty and students share their reading lists and advice for being aware of and learning to fight fascism and forms of political oppression. Inspired by the political climate and decisions of the Trump administration, it will be a collective, specialized reading list of works by novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists, non-fiction writers, and others, of whatever period, all of whom made the choice to address political oppression by imaginative, literary means. It will be ongoing, and it will be open to contributions by both students and faculty.
This is the third post in the series, written by Hettie Jones, Creative Writing faculty. You can view the first and others by clicking here.
Hettie Jones, preeminent poet and feminist, as well as New School faculty member, is well-known for many things: Any one of her 23 books, her history of teaching and reading to other writers, and perhaps preeminently her time in the Beat poetry scene. Her history of resistance writing is long, and, accordingly, her Resistance Bookshelf is robust and diverse as her career.
Poetry as Insurgent Art , Lawrence Ferlinghetti, New Directions.
Published 1975, the first of 6 printings, but as pertinent today as anything I've read. "What are poets for in such an age? What is the use of poetry?" These and other questions and challenges to the poet are offered by the esteemed poet/publisher. "You are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words." This little book (4 x 6, 90 pages) fits in your pocket and packs a wallop.
Words of Protest, Words of Freedom (anthology) Jeffrey Lamar Coleman, editor. Duke University Press. (paperback)
Poetry from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by all the familiar names, Gwendolyn Brooks, Aime Cesaire, Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde. Plus those who aren't often associated with protest, such as Barbara Guest, Denise Levertov, David Ignatow, Galway Kinnell. A great collection with short bios of the contributors as well.
Wounded Knee 1973: Still Bleeding Stew Magnuson, Court Bridge Publishing. (paperback)
Given our current focus on tribal rights, and the Standing Rock protests, it's important to see the history of Native American actions to save their ancestral lands and to prevent environmental degradation. This book reveals much that has been lost to history and must be regained if we are to move forward.
Alabanza, Martin Espada, Norton (paperback)
"Broadens our appreciation of not only poetry but resistance itself" is one of the blurbs on the back. This is a collection of twenty years of political poetry from our preeminent Latino born-in-Brooklyn voice. Espada has won many literary awards, and his words are both graceful and compelling.
The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
Subtitled "Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," this book needs no explanation except to note that it offers facts not easily available from other sources. Jailing minor offenders results eventually in an underclass prevented from full participation (jobs, voting) in American civic life. Private prisons, built for this purpose, are also used to detain illegal immigrants. The facts are all here.