News Poem: ‘A Seat for Everyone’

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“The thing that’s really tricky is to find the right subject position, in other words to find the right relationship to the material. I was not finding that as I tried to write my news poems,” Hilberry said, describing her process when writing about the current crisis involving migrant children along the US border.

“I’m not close enough in, I can’t describe what life is like for those kids who’ve been sent away from their families. So the point of entry for me ended up being my response to hearing this thing that politicians are saying and citizens are saying — ‘Just send them home.’ How could you say that if you were ever a child yourself?”

The Colorado Independent‘s News-Stained Poetry Project features poems that are about the news, products of the news, responses to the news. “News stained” is meant as a badge of honor, a reference to the long tradition of the poet as witness. As Carolyn Forché wrote, politics can sometimes be seen as a “contaminant to serious literary work,” something to be avoided. But that way of thinking, she said, “gives the political realm too much and too little scope… It renders the personal too important and not important enough.” News developments, whether or not they are reported, shape our personal lives every day. We don’t often think in the moment about how that is happening and what it means. We should think more about it. Poets think about it. And we want to help encourage them to write more about it.

Please send submissions to tips@www.coloradoindependent.comsubject line “poem,” with a short bio and some mention of where and when the poem was written.

[Photo by Curtis Perry]

Hilberry’s collection of poems, Body Painting, was published by Red Hen Press in 2005.She teaches literature and creative writing at Colorado College and serves on the faculty of the Banff Centre’s Art of Executive Leadership program. Hilberry’s honors include a Colorado Council on the Arts Recognition Award for Poetry and a Colorado Endowment for the Humanities Research Award.


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