Last night at the University of Arizona Poetry Center a group of contributors to the new anthology, New Poets of the American West, gave a reading, and I read four of my poems, three of which were about recent events in Arizona. One of the poems, e.g., is about two “illegal” immigrants who were killed by a train after arriving successfully at the edge of Tucson. In the Hispano-phobic climate of Arizona today, this incident is, unfortunately, hardly unusual. Another poem, “Arizona Satori,” contrasts the wisdom of a silent saguaro with our own efforts at achieving clarity. The audience was particularly responsive to my dedication of these four poems to “ethnic studies,” a program that is being viciously attacked by politicians for clearly ideological reasons.
Regarding this issue of ethnic studies, I also sent a letter to the Arizona Daily Star about the ideological racism involved in attacking this academic program of the Tucson high schools. Obviously, my position is regarded as disrespectful to authority. This hostility to being outspoken reminds me of the “heat” I have taken because of my book, The Death of Sardanapalus and Other Poems of the Iraq Wars. When I was attacked for my meanness toward George W. Bush and his gang, I pointed out that I would quit attacking him when he quit attacking others. My rage didn’t take casualties, and I feel the same way about the vicious attacks on an academic program trying to bring dignity back to non-white citizens.
By the way, I still have a few copies of The Death of Sardanapalus, which you can order through my web page.