Friday, July 29, 2011
Sly Alley posted a poem that links to America's debt crisis. It made me think of Langston Hughes' poem "Let America Be America Again.". Though written in 1935, the ideas and issues driving it are still present today.


Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

===================================================
This is one of my favorite poems.
Monday, July 25, 2011

Mentor meeting

So today, I'm queasy and nervous. Why? I have my first formal conference with my dissertation mentor tonight via Skype at 5:00. He lives in Australia. I know the topic I want to write about will have to undergo major revision before the committee accepts it - I mean, what are the chances of them reading my pre-pre-proposal (yes, that's 2 "pre"s) and saying, "McBride, it's brilliant. We don't recommend a single change!!!" Ha, I wish. Still, I really like my idea and have been thinking about it for close to two years. Letting go will be hard.

Plus, this first meeting will establish a certain tone for our future meetings, and I want to get it right. I so enjoyed Dr. Sims' class - he was everything I wanted in a graduate professor. But that means he's challenging.

So, tonight is the first formal step on a journey that's going to take up at least the next 18 months of my life.
I'm excited and apprehensive.

So get it started, I'm going to write a letter to my Dissertation, which I will call Dizzie.

Dear Dizzie:
I have no idea what you will be, other than the most challenging project I've ever undertaken. I could promise to put you first in my life at all times, but I know that's not going to happen. I could promise to be the most painstaking and meticulous researcher a dissertation's ever had, but I know that also will not always be the case. I could pledge to always stay on track, but we both know that's a lie. And I'm certainly not going to always love and obey. Times will come, I know, when I will hate you and refuse to bend to your will.

Instead, I vow to do my best. I vow to write about something that I care about and feel needs sharing and exploring with others. I vow to use my best writing skills in crafting you. I vow not to cheat or take shortcuts. And I swear to finish you. I will not abandon you half formed, like Frankenstein without the juice.

Sincerely,
Kelli

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Oklahoma
ABD, Associate Professor of Language Arts & Humanities at an Oklahoma 2-year college; web site designer; devoted aunt to Lauren.

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