Poetics of the streets


What follows is an excerpt from veteran community organizer Starhawk‘s blogpost on the Poetics of the Street. She also wrote an “Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups” that is a must read to members of any Working Group at all Occupy sites.

I suggest asking people to say why they are here, using the people’s mike, where the crowd repeats what you say.  There’s a moment of hesitation, then an older man speaks.

“I was forced to retire early…”

“I WAS FORCED TO RETIRE EARLY…”

“My health care costs…”

“MY HEALT CARE COSTS…”

“Eleven hundred dollars a month…”

“ELEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH…”

“On my pension….”

“ON MY PENSION…”

“I can afford…”

“I CAN AFFORD…”

“Only health care, rent…”

“ONLY HEALTH CARE, RENT…”

“And half the food I need.”

“AND HALF THE FOOD I NEED.”

“Mike check,” calls a young woman.

“MIKE CHECK.”

“I have two BA’s….”

“I HAVE TWO BA’S…”

“And tens of thousands of dollars of debt…”

“AND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF DEBT…”

“I have a part-time job…”

“I HAVE A PART-TIME JOB…”

“As a nanny…”

“AS A NANNY…”

“That doesn’t use…”

“THAT DOESN’T USE…”

“My education…”

“MY EDUCATION…”

“I am the 99%!”

“I AM THE 99%”

“Mike check,” cries a young man.

“MIKE CHECK.”

“I’m here because…”

“I’M HERE BECAUSE…”

“When I went to my comfortable job…”

“WHEN I WENT TO MY COMFORTABLE JOB…”

“This morning, and saw…”

“THIS MORNING, AND SAW…”

“Pictures of the Oakland cops…”

“PICTURES OF THE OAKLAND COPS…”

“Lobbing flash grenades…”

“LOBBING FLASH GRENADES…”

“Into a group trying to help…”

“INTO A GROUP TRYING TO HELP…”

“The injured vet…”

“THE INJURED VET…”

“Who was shot in the head…”
“WHO WAS SHOT IN THE HEAD…”

“I got so mad…”

“I GOT SO MAD…”
“I walked out of work…”

“I WALKED OUT OF WORK….”

“And brought my whole office with me.”

“AND BROUGHT MY WHOLE OFFICE WITH ME!”

The stories go on and on for hours, the circle moving and shifting to face each speaker, to put them at center.  Echoed by the crowd, each story becomes our own story, a poem, a choral theater of the streets.

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Categories: Activism, Poetic Voices

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