The Operating System


In the introduction to the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology it reads, “all movements need their poets to set the tone, to raise the questions and express the sensibility.”
And so begins a tome of over 1000 pages, one that compiler Stephen Boyer originally imagined as merely a “few pages stapled together.”
If you wonder how it sets the tone, you need only read the cover page, where the first words after the title are, “WE LOVE YOU.”

The compiling of this book became, truly, a labor of love that its founders could have never imagined. The project grew at an exponential pace and rate, organically gathering an unprecedented plethora of voices in a way we have rarely (if ever) seen in a published volume — by encouraging, allowing, inviting, and offering kindness to all comers. By extending the people’s mic to anyone who cared to speak their truth. To children, to the homeless, to the shunned, to the silenced, to the old — and of course to many, many, traditionally “successful” poets, as well. (I am proud to include myself in such fine company.) The anthology at current consists of 721 poems, 4 poetic introductions, 448 poets [140 female, 275 male, 34 androgynous] and poems in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Urdu, German, Japanese, Chinese and Dutch (and it continues to grow!)
I recently went to an open reading at the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library, which had graciously invited Stephen Boyer and his team to display the contents of the Anthology along their winding staircases and in their foyers in celebration of Poetry Month and was, as always, floored by the genuine affection of the room for each other, as well as by the strength and quality of the voices. Were these pretty poems? Were they “well crafted”? Not necessarily, but I am eternally grateful for that.

Filip Marinovich(l) & Stephen Boyer(r) @ the People's Library

The Salvadorian poet, Roque Dalton, is famously known for saying that “Poetry, like bread, is for everyone” and I couldn’t agree more. Here is a movement that asks us ALL to feel, to see, to report back, to speak, to sing, and, using the tools now available to us via the network, to reproduce and publish these formational, foundational, pure materials in volumes we can share and treasure. It’s a volume, and a movement, that is returning poetry to its rightful place among the people.
And here’s the thing — while the Occupy Poetry Anthology has received a lot of press, from independent press to the Nation to the Wall Street Journal and HuffPo, been read from and spoken about on the progressive radio station WBAI, and is well beloved in the poetry and activism communities, this labor of love is still a largely unfunded one. One that deserves your support, as they seek to publish this volume and circulate it to schools and libraries.
It’s the last few days of their IndieGoGo campaign, and you can contribute directly to that goal HERE — in case you’re familiar with Kickstarter I’m happy to say that IndieGoGo doesn’t work like that. The Anthology will be able to put your donation towards this important work no matter what happens.
And if you’d like to submit work to the volume before it goes to print, you can email Stephen Boyer here.

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