In the spring of 2019, a reading was held at the Poetry Project to celebrate an anthology about the Anthropocene. After, some poets met at a bar.
As we lingered on overwhelming observations and insights of inextricable human behavior and phenomena once understood as natural, we realized we were in peril as a species.The collective feeling illuminated that night is that this is something we can work on together, at a register of circuitous communication beyond what any of us has tried before. Not only from ever expanding points of view and a multiplicity of expressions of self and experience, but exceeding the circle of poets to communities out of our habitual range; transcending our own comfort zones of genre and individually-led work, and to topics still considered taboo to poetry.
We all know how to write lines. Perhaps we have never done it side by side with others. Many of us have pursued intellectual, artistic, and language-making work that diverges from our families, our peer groups growing up, our communities and countries of origin, and the structures we work for and that support us. But many of them are more powerful than us in their connection to dominant power.
In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin writes that “to defend oneself against a fear is simply to insure that one will, one day, be conquered by it; fears must be faced.”
These are fearful times. The world is not a safe place, and there is not one of us who is not experiencing fear. It is good to use our intelligence, together. It is good to be together if we need to run through fire. Here is an opportunity to say whatever you want, or to say nothing — just to be present.
In the composition of the Anonymous Manifesto on January 30th, 2020, there will be small writing and discussion groups led by artists from different places and communities, oriented around shared generation of observation, critique, will, and commitment to possible collective cultural action. There will be many examples of manifestos from artists at different periods to incite our thinking, to offer alternatives.
We will decide collectively at the end what we want to happen with the results of our time together and the writing composed.
Light refreshments will be served, and limited travel funds are available upon request. This event is free to attend. Registration is encouraged but not required.