Poetry & Protest

Poetry & Protest: 4 Poems

Ilya Kaminsky’s “We Lived Happily During the War” in many ways is a poem about not protesting enough, or at all, about the times we don’t use our voices to amplify those that can’t, the moments we fail each other and our communities. It’s a stark reminder of what’s at stake.

I read Suheir Hammad’s “First Writing Since” as a high schooler in Beirut, and I remember feeling overwhelmed with emotion at her description of witnessing 9/11 as a Palestinian-American raised in New York. She does a remarkable job of capturing the intricate, at times contradictory experience of being a witness/griever and simultaneously being painted as “outsider” by this country.

In “Song for Refugees,” Philip Metres has created both a lament and celebration for/of the experiences of refugees, dedicating the poem to Aleppian oud soloist Mohamad Zatari. It’s a beautiful for tribute to both musician and instrument, an exploration of how sorrow and restoration can live side by side, the truth of all protest.

“Census” by Marwa Helal is a striking protest of how marginalized groups are classified and grouped in the United States, and how this form of (re)naming changes the very way an individual classifies themselves.

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