Today’s post comes from writer and VCS faculty member Thom Donovan, who recently curated Occupy Poetics, a book of responses to the Occupy movement by 21 writers and artists.
Here is an excerpt from Thom’s preface to the book:
Writing With the Event
The following texts, composed between 2011 and 2014, represent a series of responses to an event that arguably has not ceased: Occupy. In approaching the Occupy movement as a poet and critical journalist, I did so consistently with a passionate interest in observing how aesthetics and politics might intersect. How, for example, can the poem leap off the page, into the streets—but also into modes of life that may transform radically our current legal, economic, social, moral and political realities? How curious it was that many of my friends and colleagues stopped writing poems to become revolutionary organizers, care providers, organic intellectuals, and radical pedagogues during the occupations. Equally curious perhaps is the fact that many of us kept writing poetry and making art, only in ways that often departed dramatically from our previous work. What does one do (and how can one sustain a practice) in the throes of an event? How can one write with the event (and through its untimely temporalities) into a future that we would want, that will not simply re-suture the wounds of futures past? To what extent does culture work condition the event and to what extent does the event condition culture work? In what ways might we value aesthetic output differently through Occupy and other events of a radical social and political character? If Occupy inaugurates a new era of revolutionary change, which I believe it does, at least in North America, what place will poetry have in ushering in such change, if any? These are some of the questions that I continue to ask myself in the wake of Occupy. In the spirit of Occupy’s principal modes of organization—the General Assembly and People’s Microphone, but even more so its proliferation of affinity groups based upon direct action—this collection also represents an attempt to democratize poetic journalism and criticism. Most of the pieces collected in this short book are the result of interviews and surveys. Had I more time and resources, I would have wished to invite many others to participate. I am grateful more than anything for the generosity with which my friends, community, and colleagues engaged with my prompts during a time that for many of us involved daily crisis and emergency.