Last night, Sekou Sundiata said it was
an honor to be an artist at this time.
He talked about the imagination, and its power.
Things could be different, if we could imagine them so.
I can't remember his exact words and I'm wanting
to hear more powerful words than the ones
I've been hearing on the street, on the radio, in the classroom.
I turn on the TV, flip past tanks, smoke, sand, helmets,
and balding, gray-haired men with mouths moving.
I blink at maps with no words; with dots, and
magic lines that multiply to show routes
from one place to another. I can't imagine those places.
I can't imagine those places because of my ignorance.
I've never been to the part of the world
someone lazily named "The Middle East,"
and I live in a land where many believe
it's not important for me to ever imagine anything;
a place where far too many people have forgotten
that they have an imagination.
I can feel how far away I am from things that
might be important for me to remember.
This frustrates me and makes me look for poetry;
sends me off to write instead of dust,
worry, or stand still in the muck.
Instead of thinking about whether any of us
have a future as coral reefs die, ancestors' graves
are pushed to the surface, the polar ice cap melts,
and yet another country is leveled through war;
I wonder how we stay human.
Aren't we all diminished every time homes, governments,
land, and monetary systems are thrown into upheaval?
Are our drums, songs, poems, dances, rituals, prayers,
dreams, wishes, and stories losing their power?
Maybe what I'm really asking is: will
enough of us turn from hollow words
and images to something that will sustain us?
Maybe what I really want to know is whether
dancing, writing, and singing words will sustain me.
Causes Joyce Young Supports
VONA Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, California Poets in the Schools, La Pena Cultural Center