Right now, I’m reading Viral by Suzanne Parker and Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers by Frank X Walker. These two collections are excellent and I will have a full write up and review later, but they broke me.
Parker’s collection deals with the lead up and aftermath of Tyler Clementi’s suicide. It was a response to the entire thing, where Clementi, a Rutgers’ student jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate had livestreamed Clementi having a sexual encounter with a gay male, thus outing Clementi.
Walker’s collection told through personae deals with the incidents with Medgar Evers and the lack of justice served to him for his brutal murder, forced confession and the cover up that happened afterward–and it links it up to the Treyvon Martin case.
Both collections are beautiful but they affected me in a way that I don’t want to be effected by any more, with Parker’s collection, I am tired or queer bodies/lives being thrown away (which she is responding against). The defense against Clementi’s roommate and conspirator stated that they should not be charged for any crimes because they’re “good students.” This doesn’t come up in the collection, but it was in the back of my mind reading it–as though intelligence is a sign of kindness. Walker’s collection, which plays with form and voice is just as heartbreaking because of the racial injustice occurs so much that people are complacent against it. I hear students talk about being in a post-racial America, but we are not. This collection and the fact that there are still so few educational resources out there about the Medgar Evers case show that race isn’t meant to be talked about in America.
They broke me because these are things dear to me, and I get so tired and frustrated. I talk about sexuality, race, gender and culture–people die because of these, but I feel like I talk circles around my audience–an audience that’s half listening as they text and listen to their ipods. Poetry is powerful, but these book made me realize that more can be done with my own academic and community based work.