Part of that piece is affirming that it’s less about sharing our own hot-takes and opinions, and more about lifting up the calls-to-action of organizations. For example, here is the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ “call your reps” tool, and here is Jewish Voice for Peace’s “take action” page. Both are good starting points.
Here is the MN Artists 4 Ceasefire website, with over 2,000 names, a form to sign it yourself if you’re a MN artist, and a very useful, MN-focused, action toolkit. Here’s a short video of me talking about why I chose to sign on:
Just wanted to share a few good links and a specific thought about how they’re all connected. For more background (especially if you’re looking for more foundational info/context about Gaza), you can also check out the bundle of links I’ve shared on my “recommended reading” page.
As of this writing, those calls to action might include contacting elected reps to support a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian aid corridors, attending a local march or protest to show solidarity and gain media attention, and doing more in-depth political education and narrative-shifting work in your community. Another call to action, especially for those of us connected to organizations, might be to write a solidarity statement. A few examples:
NOTE: This new zine is part of a limited-edition zine bundle I’m making available via Button Poetry. I normally just give all my zines away for free; the bundle is meant for people who aren’t able to see me in-person; the price covers just a portion of the printing costs. Preorders are available now.
As with all my zines, the FULL text is free and accessible online. Especially with this one, which is less of my own writing and more a curated list of cool quotes and resources, it’s important to me that people who need it can get it.
Over the last decade that I’ve been traveling and performing, a big pet project of mine has been finding ways to invite people into activist work. Even when I’m brought in to facilitate conversations specifically about masculinity, or consent, or whiteness or whatever, I try to help those conversations “land” in a space of agency and possibility—yes, the problems we face are big and intimidating, but they’re not inevitable or insurmountable.
That’s a simple idea, but in this historical moment, it’s easy to lose sight of. I think more people than ever are fired up and want to do something, but there are also more “off-ramps” for that energy than ever before. Our outrage can get channeled into performative social media posting, into passively ingesting hyper-online leftist podcaster/youtuber content, into voting and nothing beyond voting, into cool-kid doomer cynicism, into anxiety around being the most politically-tuned-in individual we can be, and on and on.
So many of the young people I work with today have incredible politics, light-years ahead of where I was at their age, but not a lot of experience with, or exposure to, perspectives on organizing. And to be clear, I’m not any kind of expert, or even a full-time organizer. I’ve just had the privilege of having some great mentors and being plugged into powerful movement spaces, so I’m trying to use what platform I have to pass along some of what I’ve learned.
This zine (what’s a zine?) is the synthesis of a bunch of conversations related to all that. It mixes some foundational perspectives with some really recent ones. Something that should be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway because we’re on the internet: it’s not comprehensive. It’s not “everything you’ll ever need to know about activism.” It’s just a 12-page zine. The idea is that it’s a sampling, a small collection of potential starting points, doorways into movement work.
Because crisis often happens (or feels like it happens) all at once; preventing crisis is longer-term, all-the-time work. This is about how we might step into that work.
The full text of the zine is below; as is the case with all my zines, I also have physical copies, and you get them for free at events where I’m performing. If you’re an educator, activist, or just someone who can put them to use, feel free to reach out (you can contact me via my booking form) and we can discuss bulk orders. Instagram carousel version here.
SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. We believe that Reproductive Justice is…
A human right. RJ is based on the United Nations’ internationally-accepted Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a comprehensive body of law that details the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of government to protect those rights.
About access, not choice. Mainstream movements have focused on keeping abortion legal as an individual choice. That is necessary, but not enough. Even when abortion is legal, many women of color cannot afford it, or cannot travel hundreds of miles to the nearest clinic. There is no choice where there is no access.
Not just about abortion. Abortion access is critical, and women of color and other marginalized women also often have difficulty accessing: contraception, comprehensive sex education, STI prevention and care, alternative birth options, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, domestic violence assistance, adequate wages to support our families, safe homes, and so much more.
I’m writing this before the results are in, so can’t comment on that. What I can comment on, however, is that it’s been really weird to have my poem about voting go viral over the last 48 hours.
If you’re here because of that piece, and are new to my work, welcome! Please feel free to take a look at my about page for some more info on what I do.
Anyway, a big part of the *point* of that poem is that voting is important, and also that voting is insufficient. Voting is a small thing we can do that can make a difference on the margins—and the margins matter—but the work of building a better world is much, much bigger than electoral strategy.
So this is a post with some readings and resources that have been useful to me about that idea of “the day after.” These aren’t deep dives into tactical questions; just some potential places to start, especially for people who haven’t been involved in organizing, activism, or advocacy work before. I hope these can be useful.
Just finished facilitating a six-week course for Button Poetry called “Writing to Cancel the Apocalypse,” which focused on “political” poetry: analyzing examples, sharing tools and tactics, and exploring the role(s) of poets and other artists in times of crisis (which is also ground my new book covers). I’d like to synthesize some of those discussions into a few posts here over the next few months; I already shared this updated list of poems on reproductive justice. Here’s one that uses social media as an entry point into thinking about the broader issue of how we (artists or otherwise) use our platforms.
I wrote a version of this years ago, but here’s an update. Some framing:
1. This is a tool that’s been useful to me, and I’m sharing it in case it can be useful to others. I’m not interested in policing what other people post about, or “calling out” people with different social media practices. I’ve just had so many conversations with people who want to speak out, but don’t know what to say, and my hope is that this can be useful food for thought.
2. We already know that social media, by itself, is not the work. It’s not radical. All of the platforms are owned by awful people and built to be addictive. But it is a tool that a lot of organizations, collectives, and individuals still use, for better or worse, and it can do some good when used with intentionality. (And as long as we’re talking about social media and activism, here’s a good thread from Evan Greer on digital security basics).
3. The primary audience I have in mind for this piece is people like me: artists, minor celebrities (extremely minor, in my case), people with some kind of platform. These days, however, almost everyone has “some kind of platform.” Whether it’s 100k, 10k, or just a few dozen followers- we all have access to our own specific micro-audiences, so we might as well do something with it.
“We teach boys how to wear the skin of a man, but we also teach them how to raise that skin like a flag and draw blood for it.”
(a bit of a content warning, in that this piece does eventually connect toxic masculinity to relationship violence, self-harm, violence against trans people, etc.)
Just to get this out of the way: I know it can be risky to re-release new versions of old work. I’m sure there will be YouTube comments pointing out how the original version, the one where I curse in the very first line, was so much better. But a “radio edit” of this poem is something people have asked for for years; there are other clean versions online, but this is the *definitive* clean version, and if it means more people can use it (in classrooms, youth groups, and beyond), that’s great.
And honestly, I like this version better anyway. I understand why the original took off all those years ago (over a million views on YouTube and 16 million on Facebook), and I have nothing against cursing in poems; I just think the shock factor or whatever doesn’t play the same way it did back then.
Speaking of “back then,” it’s the tenth anniversary of this poem, more or less. I performed it for the first time at the Artists’ Quarter in Saint Paul, sometime in January or February of 2012. The Button Poetry version that went viral is from a different show, and went up in 2013. The poem was a response to a specific series of beer commercials (here’s a Bitch Media piece with an overview of that campaign), and that phrase was part of “the discourse” at the time, from the work of Carlos Andrés Gómez (check out his book, “Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood” and TEDx Talk, “Man Up: The Gift of Fear”) to a very early commentary on it from political analyst John Dickerson: “Man Down.” A local poet named Jeremy Levinger also had a poem using the phrase as a jumping-off point.
With lots of voices critiquing something from lots of different angles, it can be tempting to feel like the culture has moved on from that moment, and in some ways, I really think it has. But only in some ways; I’ve talked about this before, but I don’t think it’s a matter of “things getting better” or “things getting worse” when we talk about men and masculinity in the US—I think it’s both, simultaneously. So the work continues. For poets, sure, but also for teachers, coaches, mentors, advocates, parents, and so many others- engaging young people (and not-so-young-people) about issues related to how we understand masculinity is foundational work for preventing domestic violence, sexual assault, mass shootings, and so many other things. Hopefully this piece can be useful.
We’re having a free, virtual launch performance for the new book on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at 7pm Central. This post is collecting some of stuff that I’ll likely be talking about, so they can all be in one place instead of a dozen different links.
This page also doubles as a good “how to support the book” page for people who want to; that is very much appreciated!
I first got into zines because it was nice to always have something useful or meaningful to give to people at shows, whether or not they buy my merch, whether or not they were into my artistic work. Find my other zines here. I just think they’re powerful containers for sharing what matters to us, and hopefully building community through that sharing process.
And after the last few years that we’ve had, I can’t think of anything I’d rather share with the people in my circle than the quotes here.
I’m not doing in-person performances right now (just virtual, at least through the winter), but when I do again, I’ll be sure to have copies of these to give away. For now, feel free to read the full text on this page, and if you want, you can download this PDF, print it on 11×17 paper, and make your own copies (folding directions here).