Bearing Witness And Offering Resistance Through Craft
In 2006, Adrienne Rich wrote that she lived “in poetry and daily experience, with manipulated fear, ignorance, cultural confusion, and social antagonism huddling together on the fault line of an empire.” A decade later, these words resonate even more powerfully.
Many artists have wondered what their work can accomplish in Trump’s America. In the face of such harmful policies and blatant bigotry, art can seem inconsequential. In the same piece, Rich asserts that this is not the case:
For now, poetry has the capacity—in its own ways and by its own means—to remind us of something we are forbidden to see. A forgotten future: a still-uncreated site whose moral architecture is founded not on ownership and dispossession, the subjection of women, torture and bribes, outcast and tribe, but on the continual redefining of freedom.
I do not mean to idealize poetry or to make grandiose claims for its ability to change the world. However, those of us who love it can feel comforted by its vibrant multiplicity of voices and aesthetic approaches. Through our craft, we can bear witness to—and offer resistance against—the criminals in the White House and the inequities underpinning daily American life and US foreign policy.