Monday, June 22, 2009

Spring Issue Commentary

Our new issue comes out bearing a painting of Marble Quarry Workers by Joseph Vorst which should remind us of the old, but still relevant song, The Banks are Made of Marble.

Spring is the season of renewal. It is with a sense of renewed vigor that this issue goes out, thanks to the support and commitment of you, our readers. Without your continuing generosity -- all the more gratifying in these difficult times, we could not continue. We are deeply grateful for your show of support that allows us to keep publishing this vital literature.

This collection is a product of the terrible economic times we find ourselves in. Expressed in poems by Kent Newkirk, Karl Koweski, and Justin Hyde is the prescient fear of job loss that enslaves us. Our anger at the abuses we suffer on the job and the attitude of resistance that keeps us sane is exposed in poems like T.K. O'Rourke's "I Know I'm the Lucky One." In this issue are poems of destitution, dark humor, and desperate insights reflecting our working class ethic; our hopes and the frustrations that grow from their stifling. There are also poems of militant commitment by Robert Edwards and Felicia R. Martinez.

The economy continues to worsen. More of us find ourselves falling into the badlands and mean streets of joblessness and the continuing deterioration of the economy promises more hard times to come. It is we, the working class, who inevitably bear the brunt, suffering for the crimes and avaricious mismanagement of the ruling class as work and vitally necessary services vanish.

Having now been unemployed for over a year, your editor has rediscovered a certain freedom in being unslaved. It is a desperately expensive and difficult freedom but it occurs to me that an "Army of the Unemployed" could be just that. If we are not each individually crushed and buried by the steam roller of history or a rising tide of Fascism, freed from the terror of the bosses wrath and ultimately from the prison of material ownership and debt we could rediscover ourselves and together, acting as a class for ourselves, be a mighty force for real change.

It is with the knowledge of that possibility that the most reactionary segments of the corporatocracy defend their interests by fomenting bigotry and division among us. They spend untold fortunes to fill the airwaves with hatred and scapegoating. They use every trick in their considerably large bag to exploit the anger of our already vulnerable fellow workers. They mislead with racism, nationalism, cultural prejudice, sexism, homophobia and twisted religious fundamentalism to create opposition to anything that might cut into their profiteering, from worker safety and better pay to national healthcare and addressing climate change. The results of the violent hatreds they foment and support are becoming evident with the assassination of Dr. Tiller, targeted for providing vital women's services; also with the brutal killing of a guard at the national Holocaust Museum by a known white supremacist. Mary Franke's poem, "The Lady With the Scales is no Mermaid" and "Township" by R.T. Castleberry speak to this growing danger.

Despite our commitment to freedom of expression, we must demand a crackdown on hate speech and the support of hate-based groups by the corporate shills. Ultimately, only our progressive class consciousness can begin to effectively counter the division and anti-progressive nationalism that threatens us all. This small journal is but one part of that larger struggle. In spite of their best efforts we are seeing the growth of support for working class issues like health care and the Employee Free Choice Act which will strengthen our ability to organize for workplace justice. With the new administration we are in a better position to see results to our demands for the change. The struggle for working class democracy and the defeat of corporate tyranny is a long one fraught with set-backs. The very real conditions they create fuel a commitment for progress far stronger than all the hate and lies that money can buy.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Work is Love Made Visible

I was honored to receive a collection by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, a fine poet whose work we have published in the pages of the Blue Collar Review. This collection titled Work is Love Made Visible is as nitty-gritty as it gets. Mish writes primarily as a woman. These poem are rich in womanly perspective. She also writes as a Working Class Oklahoman. These are poems of family, of ancestors, brothers, sisters and relatives. This is a working class history up close and personal that we can all relate to devoid of nostalgia or sweet sentimentality yet filled with love and connection to the broader, yet personalized experience. The strong feminism evident in these poems is inseparable from the reality and consciousness of class.

This fine collection was published by West End Press through the University of New Mexico Press and at the low price of $12.95, it is well worth it.