Another record hot summer, rife with the devastating storms of nature and human fury unleashed. We've seen hurricanes and record droughts. Fires continue to rage out of control around the country from Texas to Florida to the Midwest to the East coast. Floods inundate entire regions as do the growing disasters of a failed economy. More of us are out of work or under employed than at any time since the Great Depression. The news reports that one in six are now below the official poverty line.
As our country all but shuts down, we are further assaulted by the corporate storm troopers of the extreme right who hold a weak administration hostage. Their ongoing obstruction purposefully cripples any chance of an economic recovery. Our working class, already reeling, is further threatened by the destruction of hard won workplace rights: the elimination or gutting of Social Security, vanishing workplace safety regulations, and the destruction of every shred of a safety net from unemployment to worker's compensation. Also threatened is our national infrastructure which includes the Postal Service upon which so much, including our small press, depends.
This is a brutal collection in which hellish jobs and the lack of them seem to cover the narrow range of the quagmire we find ourselves in as employers take advantage of a bad economy to extract even more out of fearful workers. Women continue to bear the brunt of abuse, from domestic violence to hyper-exploitation in the workplace to the violence of the sex trade and outright slavery. This too is expressed in these pages. Reading the experiences described in these poems is like much needed cold water in the face.
For his hard hitting epic poem, "I Am The Rouge" Gregg Shotwell of Grand Rapids, Michigan is the winner of our annual Working People's Poetry Contest. He wins the $100.00 prize, along with a one year subscription. Due to the strength of the entries, we have two runners up; Ed Werstein for his poem, "Teaching Women How to Fly" and Margaret Sherman for "Let the Toilers Assemble." Each of these poems could have been the winner. The runners up receive a one year subscription. These poems are published in this issue and are also posted on our website for one year. We are grateful to all who entered our contest and look forward to your entries in the coming year.
As summer comes to an end, a new season of struggle is upon us. We fight for our lives against the short-sighted, destructive idiocy of the corporatist right. That struggle is heating up. There are large demonstrations, some ongoing, planned for September and October. Important as they are, they will not be enough. They must be the foundation of a newly organized movement to take our country back from the brink of collapse and stop the rise of fascist corporate feudalism. Worker's interests must remain at the core of that struggle. As wordsmiths we have a vital role to play. We hope, with your ongoing support to be on the front lines.