Friday, April 2, 2021

Tim Accepts the NPR / Kwame Alexander Poetry Challenge

From Tim:

On March 31st, Kwame Alexander, the marvelous children's author and Resident National Public Radio Poet, was on NPR's Morning Edition with a Poetry Challenge. He talked about attacks against Asian Americans. Kwame said, "Let's be clear: Anti-Asian violence and discrimination are not new. But, this racism seems to be heightened, and the onus is not on Asian Americans to figure this out. Frankly, it's on white people, it's on the rest of us - individually, systemically, to talk about it, to pay attention to, advocate against it."

Then he and Morning Edition's Rachel Martin read the "List Poem" (click here to read it for yourself) by Emily Jungmin Yoon and asked us to submit our own List Poems, which he will piece together into a community crowdsource poem. The full conversation and challenge rules are also linked below, but the basics are these:

Your poem doesn't have to rhyme. It just needs to have an ordered list with details that show your state of mind — and must begin with the word "today." Here's my contribution.

Our Sidewalk

outside our bookstore, 
as I pick up the butts and mud-caked lids
exposed by receding snow,
I wonder what other ugliness may come to
this sidewalk in the temperature of their hate.
A slur, an assault?

inside our bookstore,
as I arrange the carefully printed and bound
words of so many voices,
I wonder who will welcome the truth of the 
American frontier offered by the beautifully brave and powerful 
Prairie Lotus Hanna.

near the weight of the world’s ideas,
I see my reflection in our bookstore window, 
and consider which lies that man has too easily received.

I will watch our bookstore sidewalk,
and not shrink from their terror,
or give up on chances for love.

- Tim McCarthy

Tim's poem is inspired in part by the book Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park, one of his favorites from the last few years. Click here to check out the book and read Tim's write-up about it, too.

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