Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Autumn Editorial

America now has a Black President elect. This is truly a paradigm shift in the consciousness of our country and we celebrate a racial barrier as old as this nation being carried away. It is with mixed emotions that we wind up this tumultuous year. Our economy continues to slide into a period of depression made inevitable by the internal laws of capitalism and the criminal corruption of extreme-right ideology. Unemployment, and fear of it, are growing as food banks are inundated and tent cities once again appear in every corner of our country.

Anger and resistance to corporate tyranny are also growing as banks and businesses seek bailouts at the expense of a weary, debt ravaged population for years of greed-driven shortsightedness. Already resistance is turning to class conscious fightback as laid-off workers at Chicago's "Republic Windows and Doors" occupy that factory demanding their hard earned and hard won compensation and benefits. People who in the past would never have considered the possibility are demanding public ownership if companies like GM are to be subsidized at public expense.

At the same time, we are happy to have seen a massive repudiation of the right-wing with the election of Barack Obama. This gives us reason for cautious optimism even in these difficult times. We do not expect the Obama administration to be a progressive panacea for the all the ills that plague our working class in this system of corruption but we see it as a moment of potential opportunity. In describing American enterprise the old phrase, "business is our business" can now be replaced by, "bad business is our business." Can this country find its way back to paying workers for production? It's been a century since Bread & Roses, how now to fight? It is gratifying to have a new and hopefully more pragmatic, intelligent, and responsive leadership. At no time may we hesitate to tell our elected leaders exactly what we think of the decisions they make on our behalf. Those in political power have massive national wounds to heal. As history shows, the extreme nature of the times and the subsequent pressure from the streets can force this administration in a more progressive direction than it would otherwise go.

This issue is filled with poetry which emerges from and illuminates the reality of our lives in these times. As we read of each other's experiences; those of a Navy wife, a plastic factory worker, our consciousness grows in the sharing and we grow together as a class. It is this foundation in reality and the written commonality of our class experience that gives working class literature its power.

Also in this collection are poems that speak to the larger picture including the recent election; our hopes, our frustrations, and our well earned cynicism. The poem "5 Days in November I Counted" by Mary Franke tells of the frustration of working behind the scenes counting ballots. The poem, "A Note on the Late Election" by Thomas McGrath, though written in 1968, speaks to this moment as well.

As this year ends we have much to celebrate and much yet to do. We wish our family of poets, readers and contributors a safe season and look forward to the struggles and inspired works of the coming year.