You may recall that I read at a Resistance-themed event at the Martha Washington Library in Alexandria, VA, last month. One of my fellow readers—and one of the DC-area’s finest poets—Camisha Jones, with whom I also read at the Deaf Poets Society in February, laid down a challenge to white poets and artists of the Resistance to investigate and interrogate our own unexamined racial assumptions and account for our privilege(s). As it happens I have been engaged in that very process for some time, one aspect of which involves coming to terms with my Southern heritage, specifically my slave-owning ancestors on both sides of my mother’s family. Both of my maternal great-great grandfathers were Confederate veterans. Camisha’s call gave me the impetus to write a poem I had been contemplating for some time. The final piece fell into place when I remembered and re-read Allen Tate’s great “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” which gave me a title and epigraph.
Not long after I finished the poem, I received a very kind invitation from editor Michael Broder to submit further work to What Rough Beast, a journal that had previously published my poem “Bricks.” I’m happy to report that “Ode to My Confederate Dead” is now posted. What Rough Beast is a project of Indolent Books, a small press whose important work I urge you to consider supporting.
In other news, I’ll be reading with five excellent DC-area poets on Sunday, June 11 in Gaithersburg, MD (click link for details.) If you’re in the area, please join us.
Image: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper / Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army – http://www.army.mil/-images/2008/09/14/21732/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5241059