Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Claudia" (for Claudia Rankine)

by artist Carrie Mae Weems*
I wrote this in 2011 in response to Claudia Rankine's calling out of Tony Hoagland.  The debate can be Googled. Easily.

Writing poetry is not easy and creating characters or presenting a persona is not easy. I appreciate that. We make mistakes and sometimes create crappy art. If we were to offend, say, the KKK, we would be proud. They are bad people.

But if we reveal our own racism (everyone's got it), well, we say we're sorry. It's embarrassing, I can see that, but all God's creatures are idiots at one point or another. Hoagland, to my understanding, couldn't admit participation in the great idiocy of mankind and wouldn't apologize or recognize the issue.

I can't imagine it's easy being a man, and I know it's not easy being white, but we stumble through this one lifetime and hope for some grace now and then.

Rankine offered to post relevant poems on her blog. I wrote the following back then but never shipped it over and now I can't find her blog. I feel a little shaky about the poem's value. It's not even easy being me, but I stumble along.


      legislate paper
draft a bill

      name it
The Inscrutable East
Dialogs of Plato

      Socrates as Chinook
The Symposium a potlatch

the eidos of flesh the
perfect form of each of us

      a woman

The perfect form is
a woman but hush on that
Tough enough a trek

      out of Africa made
more beautiful
for ultimate
inaccessibility of return by

      likes of me

Do we rescue
(a ship is burning)
the captain or smirk as an arrow
feathers his bone

      Glad's another word for
the elephant felt up by
blind men and thus

      elephants grieve
an impossible perfecting
of the heart
the impossible accepting
of the self

      nine hundred hatreds
Each orchid in a bell jar
each girl in an orchid
each boy in an orchid each

      movement of only gratitude
If Jesus dies for sins
of the west, his suffering
is just begun.
Sarah Sarai, 2011

*Carrie Mae Weems online:

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