National Poetry Month. New York City Haiku. 4.12.2017
I’m thrilled to be a part of New York City Haiku published by The New York Times and Rizzoli Books. The book is available bookstores and from The New York Times Store online now. Read the city in three lines of seventeen syllables by 150 writers. It’s a sweet book!
Micro-Memoir Freewrite. Poem 2. 2.5.2017
When I was in first grade, my parents moved us all to Appalachia. Like a gold rush town, this was a boom-time, both in promise and in progress. The boom was banking. The college-educated in that valley tended to be teachers or families who had lived there forever, the generations prospering and holding a position of upper class wisdom, which seemed to engender respect and loyalty. Things started to change with my generation, and upward mobility became possible for the children around me. But when we arrived, outsiders were suspect. Everyday I was reminded of that.
There was always suspicion,
my father’s crisp suits, dropping me off
at school, his daily tie chosen carefully,
what other kids’ saw only on Sunday
through rows of church pew. The banker, the
judge, the lawyers. Even then, from distances,
kids knew those differences by sight.
Fine-wool-textured and the cost of that weight.
What do you see when a world stands before
you, offering glimpses of things
~Sharon Rousseau 2.5.2017
Micro Memoir Freewrite. Poem 1. 2.4.2017
I’m having trouble with the notion that I am not “walking in another’s shoes” because I’m a college-educated New Yorker. An out-of-touch, East Coast liberal who can’t understand the pain of rural America today. I read this commentary about my kind daily. The only way I know to deal with my anger, the erasure of my experience by people who have never even met me, is through writing. I’ll resist Trump and Bannon. I’ll post my poems. Some just freewrites, some more worked. I wrote this one quickly, no real edits. But I wanted to get it up online. I’ll hold my experience close and know what it taught me.
The churches they could rent
off rutted country roads, gravel lots, bare land
then steeple. A kitchen door swung wide, rows of countertops,
the shining Formica, that pride taken in the looks of things.
My mother in her heels and shoulders-back apartness,
my father sure with his blood ties, while I was home in my
grandmother’s shadow. Sugar-faced and free from not-before-dinner
rules. My hands reaching for the cakes. Rows of bunt pan baking, pound
and sour cream, casseroles and meat plates. Steaming green beans and corn.
Some of the men’s work hands still holding stubborn bits of
earth or grease from machine spit labor. The women’s hands,
though, were ivory. Promised a better life, the men provided.
Infrequent reunions, that warmth of kitchen toil, the women’s soft
laughter, my sleepy gaze, as dusk fell on that abundance.
~Sharon Rousseau. 2.4.2017
No Ban No Wall. NYC. 1.31.2017
Washington Square Park. NO BAN Protest.
Where Is Justice
NYC Women’s March. 1.21.2017 /Posted 1.31.17
Listen To Artists.
We Can Do It.
Why Are You Obsessed GOP?
Not For Grabs.
Post Election. The Blog. 1.31.2017
To be alive in times of trouble, in times of chaos, in times of uncertainty. Throughout my life, I’ve wondered if I could do what so many before me have done, could I be useful if called upon? From a very young age, I identified with the work of feminism, the work of equality. Learning about the Civil Rights leaders who changed the country, even by an act as simple, yet radical, as sitting at a lunch counter down the street from where my granddaddy worked in Greensboro, taught me that we can make change happen where we are right now. Watching the Vietnam War on television as a small child, witnessing women standing up for equal rights in the 1970’s. These things formed me.
But I’m a poet by nature, which I realized even more clearly once I enrolled in journalism school. Hard news training asked things of me I felt I couldn’t give—complete objectivity, the willingness to go to jail to protect sources if necessary, the strength to ask the tough questions no matter the cost. We were trained to be public servants, watchdogs protecting society from any absolute power. It seemed awfully serious and heavy to me at the time. Why was I there, I wondered, if I wanted to write fiction, poems, features? Why was I there if I lacked the type of courage and stamina needed to work in the field at its highest level? I didn’t really know, but I stayed. I never became a reporter, but I never forgot what I learned.
Today, I believe our country has fallen into times of trouble, chaos and uncertainty. I haven’t posted on the blog since before the election. I was busy working to try to do what I thought was right. The outcome of the election demanded more of the same from me. And now I ask myself if I’m going to be the kind of person I admired when I was young. Am I going to fight injustice and fight for equality? How will I do that? Right now, I’m asking myself those questions while trying to use poetry, photography, writing to lead me in the direction of usefulness, to the places where I’m needed. I hope my blog will reflect some of that as we activists move forward and use our gifts and voices.
Haiku. Pic. 10.22.2016
After the travels
from city dusk to mountains–
this is our sidewalk.
Haiku. Pic. 10.22.2016
glowing pumpkins marching up
city brownstone stairs.