Friday, July 08, 2016

Spring Issue Editorial

As this issue goes to press we find our country and world caught up in a historic working class rebellion as people reject the corrupt politics of corporate dominance and failed neo-liberal economics.

Here in the US, both of the corporate political parties are facing division and disarray. The GOP, long the party of the most extreme anti-civil-rights, anti-woman, anti-labor, climate change denial and militarist xenophobia wrestles with the rise of the crude, racist know-nothing Donald Trump. He is an embarrassment and a danger.

The Democrats too are split. The insiders favor the corporate liberalism of the Clintons which represents failed and corrupt economics along with drone assassination, aggressive imperial foreign policy, fracking, oil drilling and toxic trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Many people, more than were counted in rigged primaries, prefer the authentic populism and people-first democracy represented by Bernie Sanders.

In England, the Brexit vote was a working class rejection of the undemocratic, trans-national economics of corporate greed and citizen austerity embodied by the European Union. Like the false populism of Trump, those pushing Brexit played on nationalism and anti-immigrant hostility, ignoring that many immigrants are refugees of the same corrupt economics and of wars perpetrated by the US and England. As with Trump's campaign, the result of misplaced anger could be disastrous for working people. Americans should take note of this.

We understand the pain that leads to this. The poems in this collection give voice to the frustration and hopelessness of being trapped in soul and body killing jobs, as well as the hardship of poverty resulting from low wages, and the anguish of destitution in their absence. Our rejection of the corrupt monstrosity of capitalism and our anger at the thieves who reap fortunes from our misery is, unlike the scapegoating by venal opportunists, on target.

We understand people's anger but we know better than to kick ourselves. History and the unfolding present repeatedly demonstrate that it is much easier to reject something than it is to replace it.

We still have political conventions ahead of us which promise to be tumultuous to say the least. People are rightly upset and the power brokers of this rotten system are doing everything in their power to hold on to their influence and protections.

No matter what happens in the coming months and what our actual ballot choices turn out to be, our movement has come together and will continue to fight on issues vital to our survival. We need to be moving toward the emergence of an organized populist bloc that will speak and move with power beyond the confines of the corrupt corporate politics which serve the elites.

This journal continues to be a voice for the voiceless and more importantly, of worker poets who understand that other victims of the same crimes which oppress us -- of exploitation and oppression -- are not to blame. They are not our enemies. We understand that it is this criminal system of greed which threatens us all and that only united can we replace it and save ourselves. We are not and will not be fooled by charlatans and shills.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Winter Issue Editorial

Winter is a hard time. The poems in this issue describe in personal ways the obstacles we face daily from the difficulties and degradation of tenuous jobs, to the struggle for the basic security of food and a warm home. They reveal the resentment, not of the rich, but of the stilted and corrupt reality that denies opportunity to so many for the benefit of so few.

These are exciting times as well. It is a rare moment when the things we've been saying -- the working class reality this journal has been publishing for decades -- is being heard from a major party Presidential candidate. Even more uplifting is the record support and state landslide victories a candidate calling himself a "socialist" is receiving.

What we are witnessing is the growth of class consciousness and the potential for an organized movement. We are seeing the rejection of corruption, greed and the corporate economics that impoverish us and which feed global climate disaster.

Partisan Press is a not-for-profit publisher and is officially non-partisan, meaning that we cannot and do not officially endorse candidates. That said, it is obvious to anyone in the working class movement for economic justice, peace and sustainability that there is only one candidate really addressing these issues vital to our survival and who has a consistent record of doing so.

Hillary Clinton stated during one of the debates that one campaigns in poetry but governs in prose. The poetry of the Sanders campaign in speaking truth, is touching a nerve. As the he himself states, it will take all of us to govern if we are to effectively confront the monstrosity of this system. As with poetry, creative thinking is vital if we are to be successful in saving ourselves as a species and creating a more just and enlightened society.

This is our annual fund drive season. If you are only viewing online, You can support us on our website. If you are a subscriber or being published, you will find in this issue a slip asking for donations of support. We do not beg during the holiday season like most other not-for-profits, because as working people, we know how strained a time that is for all of us. We wait until spring because we know that some of us can expect a refund on our taxes. Our staff is small but we do have expenses. We need to cover the costs of producing this journal. We must cover the increasing price of mailings and we have to pay for supplies as well as basics like rent and keeping the lights on.

We've been publishing this journal, as well as poetry collections by some of strongest voices of our working class for going on 20 years. We have succeeded where many have not because of your support. The things we've been saying for years are finally catching on. Something is working, and while we cannot claim all the credit, we can claim that we've been a part of what has made this moment in the struggle possible.

Progress cannot happen without a change in consciousness. much of which is culturally defined. That is what Partisan Press is all about, as our mission states: "We hope to create an awareness of and involvement in working class culture as well as to promote a progressive vision that will move our class and our society forward toward a more just and peaceful future."

The truth is, we cannot do it without you. Our editor is an impoverished, unemployable radical and our co-editor is retired on an inadequate income. We cannot afford to do this. We struggle on out of an obsessive dedication made possible by supporters who find our collective efforts worthwhile. Like the Sanders campaign, this isn't about our selves -- it's about all of us. It's about what kind of society we want to live in. It's about shaping consciousness in a way that only poetry can do. Thank you for your support.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fall Issue Editorial

These are dark Times. As if things weren't difficult and nerve-wracking enough with half the country at the poverty level and our climate on the brink, we are experiencing almost a mass shooting a day along with a rise of fear, bigotry and hate being stirred by the extreme right, reminiscent of the worst of the last century.

Campaign rhetoric has been especially telling in this regard. The GOP, always glad to exploit the ignorance, anger and prejudice of its base, has become entrapped in fascist ideology as candidates compete to be more right-wing than each other – and it's more than just campaign jargon. Donald Trump demonizes Muslims and Hispanic refugee immigrants, running on the promise of massive roundups and deportations. The rest aren't any better pushing guns, anti-Muslim bigotry, and a malignant mixture of fundamentalist religion and militarist nationalism.

The poets in this collection aren't buying the lies. We have never done so. These poets have been through the meat-grinder of horrible jobs, destitution, loss and job related injury. We see the corruption, the manipulated fear and hatred for what it is. These poets have been radicalized and are armed to the teeth, not with guns but with words sharpened to a razor's edge armed with ideas and even worse, ideals!

These are voices of sanity amid the rising barbarism. These are the ideals of human solidarity and outraged humanity. As the poems in this collection illustrate, we deal with the madness around us in different ways. We rant and rage. We speak out against the mindlessness, hate, ignorance, cynical lies and unbearable psychopathology around us. We march arm in arm. We take care of each other. We look for truth and meaning we can hang onto. We insulate our sanity. We retreat from the media lies that pour like endless toxic waste from our TVs and radios. We find solace in community, and we drink.

Let this be a journal be a sanctuary of solace, an assurance that you are not alone. Let this journal be a refuge of inspiration, knowing we are in this fight together, resisting barbarism and struggling for the sanity and security of a better world. Let the poems in this journal, be the firing sequence of the revolution we need to save us.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Lasting Gift of Sanity and Inspiration

In this season of giving, you have no doubt been accosted by every cause and charity imaginable. There was "Black Friday" and "Giving Tuesday" -- matching gifts, and desperate pleas up the wazoo. I've always wondered why the begging is upped when the majority of us are most stretched to the limit. I realize that giving now ups the annual take for charities and organizations but for working stiffs and those of us for whom jobs are but a memory, the timing is unrealistic.

For this reason, our press -- which relies on your support and exists on a the tattered remains of a shoestring, waits until after the holidays to beg. That said, there is a way you can support us while easing your own guilt ridden burden of giving gifts while also doing your part to heal the diseased mindset that plagues our nation.

Consider giving subscriptions of the Blue Collar Review! For a measly $20.00 you can buy a loved one, friend or co-worker inspiration and sanity that will last an entire year! Not only that, you'll be helping to sustain the best if not only journal of Progressive Working Class Literature and, if you are a worker-poet, one of the few venues for your own work.

The best way to do this, given the time, is to email us with the information and gift subscribee info. I will send you an invoice you can pay with your plastic and mail you a gift certificate you can give (first class) as our journal, which is in the process of production, will probably not be out before Xmas -- and even if it was, it's taking three to six weeks to get to many of you due to the undermining of our Postal Services.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Continuous Performance: The Selected Poems of Maggie Jaffe

This is a collection of work by poet Maggie Jaffe who died in 2011. This collection put together by our familiy of working class poets keeps her vital poetry alive. It is edited by Christopher Butters, Marilyn Zuckerman, and Robert Edwards and published by Red Dragonfly Press. Below is a review by Julia Stein.

Maggie Jaffe’s poetry is reminiscent of Bertolt Brecht’s, but with a distinctive, tough-edged American voice. After getting a B.A. from the New School for Social Research in New York, Jaffe lived in Guatemala, where she was inspired by Latin American poets such as Claribel Alegría, Otto René Castillo, Ernesto Cardenal, Pablo Neruda, and Roque Dalton—poets who were spokespeople for the wretched of the earth. When she died in 2011, she had published six books of poetry, received an NEA fellowship, and had won the San Diego Book Award for Poetry twice.

This new volume of selected poems is an excellent introduction to her work. One of the poems from the opening section celebrates Cardenal’s lines “the earth belongs to everyone, / not just the rich!” by voicing them at an anti-immigrant rally on the border. Another poem looks at Salvadoran misery, but also celebrates Alegría’s hope for change in El Salvador “in pueblo-owned milpas after / sweet green corn ripens.” Jaffe wasn’t a poet for the squeamish: in one piece, a minor Salvadoran union official finds the death squad has “decapitate[d] / her five children” and placed their bodies “around the kitchen table.” The poem ends with the phrase “Shit happens.” In “Emily Dickinson,” Jaffe criticizes the nineteenth-century poet, calling her “one of the few women / you can trust to keep / her mouth shut.”

In selections from How the West Was Won, Jaffe begins with “Can’t Happen Here”—referring to the “Gen·o·cide” that did happen here, to Native Americans. The theme of resistance runs through these poems—for example, she lauds the Zapatistas as people who will “die fighting rather than from dysentery.” The poet also finds a heroine in Emma Goldman, saying that after the U.S. deported Goldman for “‘hysterically’ agitating for peace,” only “in death will they allow / her back in the Imperium.” These voices contrast with that of Jaffe’s student in “Poverty Sucks,” who feels that he has “the right / not to know about the poor.”

:Jaffe’s third book, The Prisons, compassionately describes prisoners and their visitors such as “Marianne” with her “3 advanced degrees”: “She’s also doing time: / one-room Portland / flat, post office by day, / clichéd lonely nights.” The poet creates another fine portrait in “Daniel in the House of Cards” who wants to make it up to his parents who visit him every weekend, but the con next to him says that when Daniel gets out his parents will “be holding hands six- / feet under.” The Prisons has the finest poems written in the U.S. about our penal system; in this book, Jaffe also identifies with “degenerate” artists such as George Grosz, calling him “a small no in the big / YES! of Nazi Germany.”

As her career progressed, Jaffe continued to create haunting portraits such as “Kafka at Work,” capturing the author’s short, sad life in six poignant stanzas, and “Otto Dix: Artist Against War,” describing his powerful antiwar drawings created while he was a soldier in the German trenches. Jaffe wrote many poems about those artists called “degenerate” by the Nazis, such as Dix, Grosz, and Kandinsky—“‘degenerate’ because they won’t paint / golden bodies for the Reich.” Jaffe also both loved and hated the movies, as evidenced by her many poems about Hollywood; these include “Sign of the Times,” about failed starlet Peg Entwistle, who jumped from the thirteenth letter in the HOLLYWOODLAND sign, and who “still haunts the scene of her demise . . . when there’s a strong scent of gardenia in the air.” In another film-themed poem, “Letter to the Actor Charles Laughton Concerning the Life of Galileo,” German refugee Brecht writes admiringly to Laughton “as if words would save us.”

The hard-assed honesty, courage, and hope in these poems make Jaffe equal to Brecht and her other “degenerate” heroes. Like them, she refused to make safe art during troubled times; her uncompromisingly tough style bores unflinchingly into our piercing reality.

The following is an excerpt from the introduction written by Robert Edwards and whether you buy this book or not -- and you should -- the introduction alone is well worth the purchase price. It speaks not only to the powerful writing of Maggie Jaffe but to progressive working class poetry as a whole. Edwards writes:

The great American poet, Thomas McGrath, spoke of “the lost poets of America.” He was referring to poets such as Don Gordon, Meridel LeSueur and Bert Meyers (and many others) whose work set a high standard of accomplishment but was ignored or shunned either because their style was at right angles to the conventions of the day or because they wrote political poems, or both. I would suggest there is another generation of lost poets in America, of whom Maggie Jaffe is one. Maybe there is always a generation of lost poets in America.

Every age of poetry begets a particular stylistic type which becomes the dominant meme of its time and eventually comes to be seen as indicative of that time. There also exists in every time poets who do not write like anyone else, as if their influences came from an alternate world. Sometimes these poets are loved for that, but mostly they are not. Just being different is enough to get doors slammed in your face and the reasons for this are many, as writers of anything resembling political poetry know all too well. Some editors are just not very imaginative people. They also can be the cops, courts and wardens of an official culture that will tolerate no dissent on their turf. Different always carries with it the implications of subversion. “Have you ever felt like an alien?” Maggie once asked me. “After all these years, I still do.”

Nevertheless, despite the usual obstacles, during her life she published eight books (The Prisons, 7th Circle, Continuous Performance, How The West Was One, The Body Politic, Roque Dalton Redux (co-edited with Esther Rodriguez), 1492: What Is It Like To Be Discovered? (with Deborah Small), and Flic(k)s), of which 7th Circle (1998) and The Prisons (2001), received the San Diego Book Award for poetry. At various times she was the editor and driving force behind Cedar Hill Books and the small press magazine, The Cedar Hill Review. Without her the press would have gone out with the tide, as so many small presses do. She fiercely kept it going, against the odds. She was generous and encouraging to many poets, publishing books that otherwise would have never seen the light of day. Unfortunately, due to a malicious and frivolous lawsuit filed by a contributor to Cedar Hill Books—a person Maggie had once helped and published—Cedar Hill Books was severely crippled and never recovered.

Maggie was never entirely comfortable with the term political poet. She viewed herself as a poet who wrote about, amongst other things, political matters as they affected her. This is actually how a great deal of the poetry writing (and reading) world views the role of a poet in a modern society. A poet might write a love poem or a poem about their Grandmother or the way autumn leaves fall into a river. And write a poem about the latest war. Giving expression to the entire range of human experience is what a whole person and a responsible artist does.

Still, it seems not a year passes without well heeled and appointed poets within the mainstream literary community in America throwing up the question, “Can political poetry be poetry?” Well heeled and appointed poets have been asking this question since the McCarthy era. No surprise what the answer is.

Of course, what is really being objected to is speaking truth to power. As one well heeled and appointed poet once smugly told me, “Poetry is about revelation not revolution.” But of course it’s about both. It is impossible to truly arrive at one without the other. Indeed, separating Art into acceptable and non-acceptable categories based on content will inevitably lead one into hypocrisy and contradiction. To imagine that poets are somehow above or outside the political structure of the society in which they exist is itself a political notion that soon collapses under the weight of its own assumptions. As the cinematographer, Haskell Wexler, said, "All films are political." Knowing of Maggie's interest in film, I mentioned this quote to her. Over the phone you could hear the ice in her drink tinkle as she swirled it. "Yes," she said, "all poems, too."

We never met. At various times she was going to fly to Seattle and visit with poet friends here. Sadly, that never happened. In the 1990s, perhaps the last decade when people still wrote letters, we exchanged letters. Later, we exchanged emails. Hers were always brief, laconic, almost aphoristic, like telegrams sent by someone who needed to cut to the core of the matter and only had minutes on the schedule before the train arrives. What we did, however, was talk on the phone for hours at a time. Maggie was a charming conversationalist and we were like teenagers sharing long distance secrets.

I’ve only seen one picture of her. It’s the one on most of her books: a hipster in sunglasses. She carries a brave and twisted smile—amused, not only at the world but at herself, her face caught at just that instant when the stand up comedian has brought down the house with a joke at everyone’s expense.

In her early poems, a major theme was language and how it is used to obfuscate and conceal the real agenda of the U.S. empire builders. My co-editor, the poet, Christopher Butters, and I had the opportunity to read an early, unpublished manuscript of Maggie’s called Job’s Wife. The work is a harbinger of things to come though it is uneven, as early work often is. But what is clear is that over the course of the manuscript you can see the poems become tougher and leaner. What is lyrical becomes increasingly pared away, the only music that of the forge, hammer and sparks as an edge is applied. Once Maggie found her voice, she created a kind of poetry that was relentlessly stripped to the essentials, everything superfluous burned away in the underlying fury that inhabits these poems.

Once, after publishing some of her poems in Pemmican, I got an email from a reader who complained that her work was nihilistic and that it lacked hope and promise. It’s true, Maggie’s poems don’t have Disney endings. These are not poems that cheerlead for social change. And yes, very rarely do they offer hope. When I read them, I think this is someone who has gone beyond all hope and yet who keeps putting one foot in front of the other. These are brutal, unflinching looks at brutal situations, and Maggie refuses to sugarcoat them. We are like that captive viewer of horrific documentaries, strapped to a chair with eyelids taped open, unable to turn away from an endless reel of atrocities wrapped in patriotic packages, forced to witness one shattered life and holocaust after another. We are immersed in History and its consequences, and we are not allowed to make excuses for anyone, not even ourselves.

Can't Happen Here
     for Ward Churchill

    The poster announced a Conference on Genocide
    at a southern California university.
    Represented were Jews, Armenians, Cambodians,
    even Gypsies, but no American Indians.
    I phoned the professor in charge,
    who had "thought of including Indians,
    but the students decided against it."
    He explained: "Indians don't fall
    within the dictionary
    definition of Gen•o•cide,
    namely 'the systematic,
    planned extermination of a people.'"
    "You don't think invasion, land theft,
    chronic murder of civilians & the slaughter
    of 50 million bison with the intention of starving
    Indian people, wasn't planned?"
    "No," he said, "we just went too far."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Summer Issue Editorial

It's been another long, hot Summer. We have once again broken the record for high temperatures. We continue to witness the ravages of our self-pepetuating wars, worsening climate and the imperialist economics of greed and austerity. As a result, Europe is experiencing a crisis of refugees. Our own country has been facing a similar influx of refugees for years. The corporate media labels them "illegal aliens. Racist xenophobes of the right stir fear and hate calling for massive arrests and deportations, ignoring the criminal policies that create the problem. And the refugees are not always alien. Several poems in this issue remind us that poverty and homelessnes are increasingly criminalized. The poor and homeless fill our prisons.

As temperatures, climate-related disasters, violence and abuse rise, so too does the struggle for justice and sanity. From Greece to Guatemala, from Spain to our own city streets, new movements are rising and old ones are breathing new life.

Our summer issue focuses on war and on ecology. Given the state of our biosphere and the continuing assaults against it by this deadly, myopic and stubborn system of greed, we've been tempted to rename this journal "The Fossil Record." In spite of the mounting evidence of disaster, we are encouraged by the expanding consciousness of the real cost of capitalism. This is reflected in the massive and growing support for Bernie Sanders as well as for policies that address the looming climate catastrophe. The global conscious rejection of capitalist greed, gun proliferation, war and climate destruction gives us some reasons for hope.

Poems in this collection describe the misery and oppression of working conditions and the injustice many face on the job, as well as the desperation of unemployment.

Our Summer issue presents the winning poem of the Working People's Poetry contest. This year's winning poem was "Absence" by Diane Sahms-Guarneiri. This poem describes the loss of a loved one to job-related illness. Too many of us have stories of job-related injuries, disability, and lives sacrificed to greed. As usual, picking the winning poem was tough. Other contest entries appearing in this issue include Ed Werstein's powerful poem "Austerity" and "Portals in Alessandro's Restaurant" by Tanya Pilumeli. Her poem is a beautifully composed portrayal of the music and energy of restaurant work. It ran a close second.

This issue completes eighteen years of publication. We hope to see many more. For the first time since 1997, we have raised our subscription rates -- but not much. Subscriptions are now $20.00 per year or $35.00 for two years. We strive to keep this journal affordable and could not break even on subscriptions alone as costs of materials and postage have continued to rise. Partisan Press is a charitable not-for-profit institution. Not only does that make your contributions tax-deductible, it means we send 20% of our journals to those who cannot afford them free of charge. Let us know if the subscription price increase causes you difficulty. We will not cut you off.

We are grateful to those of you who have entered our contest and who continue to support this journal financially as well as with your writing. Whether we are a catalyst for conscious change or a fossil record of our times, we believe in the vital importance and power of poetry which speaks the truth.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New Review Up

As our newest issue goes to print, a review of our last issue is up at New Pages. It is always good to get noticed.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Stewart Acuff Reading

I was fortunate to get a recording of Stewart Acuff reading some of his poems on WBAI-FM's Arts Express radio show this coming Thursday, July 16 between 2 and 3 PM. This can be streamed live or listened to later.(Probably the last spot before 3:00 PM). Acuff is a long time labor organizer besides being a great working class poet with an honest authenticity, as Chris Butters describes in introducing him.

These poems have all appeared in the Blue Collar Review.

Listen, enjoy and pass this around.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Spring Issue Editorial

As this season moves from bitter cold to record heat, things are warming up around the country as well. Poems in this collection speak of both the pride and the misery of work. They flesh out the real insecurity and resentment of underpaid and tenuous jobs and the seeming hopelessness of unemployment.

The pride and the power of solidarity in the struggle for living wages, basic economic security and respect also grace these pages. The poem "Raising the Floor" by Ira Woodward comes out of the strike by fast food workers at McDonalds which has spread to a larger struggle for a $15.00 an hour minimum wage. This effort has seen success in several states and continues to grow.

As we go to press, we have seen much resistance to the passage of "fast track" negotiations on the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" trade agreement, or TPP, which would give the President a free hand to negotiate this secretive legislation. The TPP would harm labor laws and override environmental and workplace safety laws, as well as establishing the supranational rule of corporations with their own courts.

We are witnessing the long overdue growth of populist resistance to corporate tyranny and to the corruption of government by big money influence. With this comes the vital discovery of common ground and the spread of working class consciousness. This is exemplified by the significant and growing support for Bernie Sanders. We are also seeing more awareness of and resistance to institutional racism and to racist police misconduct with some action being taken to demilitarize abusive police and to hold them accountable.

We still have a long way to go, but that we have made any progress at all on this and other issues is due in no small part to massive citizen activism. Much more is needed.

Real sustained progress requires an organized ongoing mass movement. Ensuring the vigor, popular support and duration of that movement requires a cultural paradigm shift. We must see a rejection of the alienated, divisive, violent egoism promoted by corporate media, reclaiming and strengthening a culture of class-conscious solidarity.

We labor to do our part by publishing the powerful visionary voices of our working class in spite of the very real obstacles of our own poverty and the rising costs of publishing and mailing. We are only able to keep doing this thanks to your ongoing support for which we are extremely grateful. But these words, your words, need to be more widely read. We passionately believe in the power of poetry to change lives and expand consciousness. Consider passing this journal around, buying extra copies to leave in places where others will find them, or getting subscriptions for friends.

As the struggle heats up and progressive populism grows, our work is cut out for us. As the poet Robert Edwards has written, it's time to "get our Joe Hill Boots on."

Friday, April 03, 2015

Winter Issue Editorial

This is a hard collection coming in hard times. Usually we have more poetry about work conditions, good and bad, but fewer of us are working, especially those of getting us on in years. Corporations are reaping record profits and statistically, hiring is up a few percentage points but the jobs are mostly part-time low-paying service jobs and the wages remain stagnant if not decreasing in relation to actual living costs. Young people are stuck with low-wage service work. This includes college graduates who are yoked with lifetimes of debt while older workers are discarded like yesterday's trash.

Of those still working, half of us are now at the poverty line, in debt, and a shaky paycheck away from destitution. Corporate ownership of our government is degrading our economy to third world conditions, because you and I are being subjected to the same neo-liberal austerity foisted on Greece and Spain. Republicans have made further impoverishing us their platform, pushing "right to work" laws, written by ALEC, in Wisconsin and other states and further criminalizing the poor. Democrats, with few exceptions, are only nominally better.

As our economic security erodes, the disparity between desperate poverty and obscene wealth is reaching levels unseen since the age of robber barons. The police abuse and public robbery reported in Ferguson Missouri are typical of the abuses heaped upon poor and minority citizens throughout this country. Our working class continues to be cynically divided against ourselves with phony partisan politics by the same corporate interests that impoverish us. From continuing attacks on labor, Social Security and civil liberties, to escalating violence against women, fascism is raising its ugly head.

For working people, our only defense is community and the awareness of our strength when united as a class. Spreading that progressive class-conscious awareness is what this journal exists for. As this collection shows, we as a class have a long memory in spite of every attempt to erase it. We remember the struggles against slavery. We remember the fight for the eight hour day, for women's rights, civil rights and the right to organize. We remember our martyrs; the bonus marchers, the Ford workers, the San Francisco dock workers, The Haymarket and Panther martyrs, the Triangle Shirtwaist, Hamlet Chicken Plant, and Rana Plaza factory workers sacrificed for the bosses greed. We remember them because of working class poets and writers.

We too are struggling, holding on to the crumbling edge to get these words -- our words, out. You will find an insert in this issue asking for your help in keeping this collective project going. You can also help support this journal by entering a poem in our annual contest. If you've been published in this journal, you know what we like and you have an advantage. The winner will get $100.00, a one year subscription and online publication.

We are grateful beyond words to those of you who have already contributed to our fund drive as well as to those whose vital words grace our pages. We look forward to continuing to speak truth to power and, more importantly to each other, letting our fellow workers know they are neither alone nor powerless.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hebdo Schmebdo

A good friend of mine named Shirley who had come of political age in the struggle against the KKK in Greensboro, NC in which most of the KKK were also police once said to me, "All people want is Justice and Respect." Muslims in France have had neither. Muslims living in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Israel have born the brunt of invasion, war, torture, apartheid, assassination and the murderous terror of drones. They continue to have their culture and beliefs attacked and disrespected in the western media. In our country they face violence, assault and attacks on mosques.

There is no justification for the suppression or murder of cartoonists or writers by governments or religious fanatics of any kind. But the reality is that far more innocent Muslims have been attacked and murdered around the world without big marches of solidarity against hate crimes. As for "Charlie Hebdo," it is easy to be controversial and "edgy" by poking fun at others, lambasting their cultures and beliefs. There is a long history of this. Think of old caricatures in our own country of Germans and Japanese dating from WWII, or for that matter of African Americans who still get little justice or respect. Think of German portrayals of Jews from the 1930's. A good analysis of this issue shows the utter hypocrisy of making this into a free speech issue.

I guess what irritates me the most about this, given the limits of the US media, is the portrayal of cultural chauvinism drenched in racism as "free speech." The reality is that there are real truth-tellers relegated to the margins like Amy Goodman and DemocracyNow!, Glenn Greenwald and others on The Intercept, or Consortium News, and Truth Out. There are people like Eric Snowden and Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and many others who put everything on the line to speak the necessary truth.

Then there are you and I. If you're reading this, there is a good chance you read or have been published in the Blue Collar Review. We are certainly controversial if not downright revolutionary in that we speak truth to power exposing the filthy, monstrous, destructive and oppressive reality of the capitalist system. We are even more revolutionary in that we seek to UNITE rather than to divide. I am also a writer publishing articles in a local magazine that speak to real issues and point fingers at powerful institutions including NATO, the CIA and the police. I pay the price for doing so as do many others and you can bet I'm on the local FBI watch-list.

Am I "Charlie Hebdo"? Are you? Hell No! If anything Charlie Hebdo can only wish they were us! If they really spoke truth to power, it would not be getting such coverage nor the hypocritical appearance of creepy leaders. When hate groups or the state comes for me or you, it won't make the national news but we keep on because we must.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fall Issue Editorial

As this issue goes to press, we are witnessing the playing out of the corporatized culture and attitudes the public has been fed for decades. Cop culture, military, or "warrior" culture, rape culture, and Wall Street culture are inseparable. All are racist, misogynist, inherently violent, alienated, antisocial, and ego-centric. Vengeance, greed, and prejudicial judgment are key to this mindset. Sadly, many working people have bought into it to our social and class detriment.

This is the cultural perspective that justifies worker abuse, victim-blaming, criminalization of poverty, racism, sexism, police abuse, torture, exploitation, corporate theft, destruction of the ecology, imperialism, and war. It is the fascist ideology of raw power or, "Power of the Will" where the brutal rule of those with power is justified and under which illness and poverty are seen as character flaws and deserved conditions of the weak.

Fortunately, not all are taken in by this pathology. As the ugly reality of corporate right-wing culture is bared, the best remedy is the recognition and rejection of this destructive paradigm, reclaiming and recreating our older, healthier, more community-focused working class culture.

In rejecting the corporate, militarized police state, we affirm our common humanity and solidarity, realizing that our class commonality and collective interests include and transcend differences of gender, race, religion and national origin.

This is what gives us, as working people, the strength to survive. This is what this journal is about.

In these pages are poems about the satisfaction of work and caring for and about our co-workers, as in the poem "Henion Bakery" by Virginia Schnurr and in "The Man Who Made Your Breakfast" by Christy Passion. We have several strong poems about union organizing -- its basis in humanity and working class empathy which includes the joy of real empowerment over our lives when we realize that together, united, we have more power than our bosses, and even more than the politicians that represent them.

Poems in this issue get to the nitty-gritty of bad jobs, poverty and homelessness. These poems also speak with outrage, disgust and horror at the abuses of our corrupt system and of the nightmare of torture and murder unleashed by our police and our military, both at home and around the world.

We are proud to be able to continue presenting the strongest poets and writers of our awake and aware working class and hope to be able to continue. This project is a collective effort. We can't do it without you. We are grateful for your support and your inspiration.