Be The Change

Welcome to Week 66 of Be the Change!

As I write, President Biden is in Kyiv, Ukraine, demonstrating solidarity with the people of that beleaguered country--a country where my mother was born and where we still have family. I have processed much of what has happened over the rather eventful years since Trump's election--not only the war in Ukraine but climate disaster, the pandemic, the movement for racial justice, and so much more--through poetry. Which is why I'm so happy to share that, after seven-years working on it, my first poetry manuscript is complete. This week I share an essay that talks about why a newsletter about positive change in the world has such a strong emphasis on poetry, and, of course, provide a link to the manuscript, which is titled On the Brink: The World & Me – 2016 to 2020 and can be accessed by clicking here.

I hope you enjoy!

- Andy
My Poetry Manuscript Is Complete!

My Poetry Manuscript Is Complete!

One could be forgiven for asking what poetry, with its self-indulgence, its insistence on image and metaphor, can do for the real world of blood and bruises, the harsh dirt with which we bury the newly dead. In his poem In Memory of W.B. YeatsW.H. Auden wrote that "poetry makes nothing happen: it survives / In the valley of its making where executives / Would never want to survives, / A way of happening, a mouth."

Notice the subtle distinction Auden draws here: he writes that poetry doesn't make anything happen but rather is a way of happening. If you're looking for a sonnet to stop a war, well, you've come to the wrong place. But if you are living through a war and need sustenance, a way to make sense of it, to survive it, to gain the courage to win it--now we're talking. And so it is that over the last seven years I have written poems about, inspired by, and intended to give meaning to the era of Trump, climate change, rising authoritarianism, a pandemic and all the other challenges our particular generation is saddled with. During that same time period, however, I have also watched my son be born, learn more walk and talk and use the potty; experienced great love and sorrow; and lived through many quotidian, even boring days.

After seven years of work, I am pleased to say that the manuscript of my first book of poetry is finally complete and I am now submitting it to publishers (about 70% of the poems have been published individually; now it's a question of getting the whole thing published, which is much harder. You can read the manuscript, titled On the Brink: The World & Me - 2016 to 2020, by clicking here.

Ode to My Favorite Poetry Podcast, Now Featuring a Car Commercial

Ode to My Favorite Poetry Podcast, Now Featuring a Car Commercial

I’ve come to take for granted so much--billboards and product
placements, sponsored posts disguised as honest-to-goodness
journalism, apps making me the product I can search and

share and grow enraged, for free--why should a poetry
podcast not be brought to me by the all-electric Nissan
Ariya, a "fiercely beautiful vehicle, empowering you with

an architectural, lounge-like atmosphere"? Poems are a kind
of advertisement, too: Shakespeare hawking love and betrayal,
Eliot selling me a story about a broken, breaking world.

To the marketing execs at whatever agency realized I am the
perfect potential EV buyer, might I suggest we give up the
pretense, versify every commercial: Ballads for Bud Light,

Ghazals for Geico Insurance, Villanelles for Viagra, Madrigals
for McDonald's. Now, whenever sadness hits, I make a beeline
for the shopping cart, braindead mariner, addict whose wallet

opens like a door with the hinges blown off; and the scribbled
poem which falls out may as well be gold bullion in a store
that only takes Visa or Mastercard, thanks for understanding.


Check out The Slowdown, a Production of American Public Media in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and...Nissan?
Have a great week!

- Andy