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."