Friday, February 13, 2009

Review: Post-Katrina Blues

As a Veteran, author Mac McKinney has seen more than his share of the world in crisis. As a poet, blogger and photographer, he has utilized various tools to re-construct a more cohesive picture of the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in POST-KATRINA BLUES (San Francisco Bay Press, 2009). The reader joins Mac, the blue-collar Everyman, for an informative journey as he fills in many of the gaps left out by American mainstream media. He has traveled along the Gulf Coast from Pascagoula and Biloxi, MS towards Waveland and New Orleans, deep into the Lower Ninth Ward, where one questions if the surreal landscape is part of America. It is more like a war zone.

A formally vibrant historic area has been so neglected by the toxic mix of “cynical politics and economics” that one can’t help but witness the extensive damage and suffering caused by governmental negligence as symbolic of the layers of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. Funding which should have been used to rebuild the levees and restore damaged wetlands against future catastrophe has been diverted to 2 major wars overseas. Over 1,800 American citizens have perished as a result of Katrina’s initial devastation; thousands have been brutally displaced from their homes in the vicinity of New Orleans since Aug. 29, 2005. Viable housing is being sacrificed daily by the political wrecking ball of bureaucracy.

Mac tells us of increasingly positive outcomes in the midst of the chaos and predatory contracting of New Orleans’s poorer sections beyond the tourist/ business areas of the French Quarter. Grass roots organizations such as churches, veteran’s groups and Common Ground Collective are continuing to work diligently to restore hope and vitality in revitalizing the forgotten areas of the Gulf Coast. Musicians such as Tab Benoit, “Voice of the Wetlands” have initiated fund-raisers to assist the displaced and educate the public on the urgency of restoring the wetlands and levees. And the residents who have chosen to return and rebuild in New Orleans have a unique collective spirit unparalleled in recent American memory.

Ann Williams

C/o Norfolk OffBase,

& member, Virginia Anti-War Network (VAWN)

& Tidewater Peace Alliance