Review: Fall 2021 Poetry Fellows Reading

by Menat Allah El AttmaFebruary 28, 2022

Fall 2021 ARC Poetry Fellows Reading, held on December 08th 2021 (event info here). The full recording of the event is available for viewing on our YouTube channel, here.

I write to keep a question alive (even if I walk away from it).
–Lindsay Choi

I read your poem
I read your poem to be close to you.
How very much I want for you the things you write about.

If there is no poetry that was not written with such fidelity to the
word in the beginning, who is to say there would not be poets (as
today) who commit to the affair and amour of meaning outside the
chaste dictations of language. Who else among us belong elsewhere,
exposed to all the detractions, disturbances, splitting lures, and open
realms—as opposed to fine lines, closed doors, and thick glass where
you can see the outside and yet cannot be outside.

Not even close.

We flourish because we inherit.
We inherit because we are loved.
We are loved because we are.

Does someone inherit without being determined?

As if by love possessed, your skin is dry and of self-same
substance / … / You have made yourself beautiful in vain.
—Lindsay Choi  

Poetry is assumed to be a reactive space; however—
Poetry is active.
Poetry is a powerful instigator. 

                                            Poetry is the material and the maker.
Poetry is a friend and foe

Now color your lips as you kiss your enemy.
—Ahmad Diab

If the state is ready
If the state is ready to kill,

What am I healing for?
—Anastasia Le

do we
do we coexist
do we                                                                                             

Say each homie’s name twice /
marooned puzzle pieces being put together
feels like 52 card pickup
—Vicente Perez

If the state is ready to kill, do we coexist

When gOvernments drone intimacy without Consent
American safety = breaking and entering HapmtOn Panther shOt in sleep. /

We’ll deFine equilibrium aS a point where cause and effect sustains itself.
An endless loop. / Like graves unbury themselves. /

Why is the narrator speaking for us? With no country to justify their violence.
–D’mani Thomas

If the state is ready to kill, do we call Securitas.
If the state is ready to kill, do we coanswer.  

You had a theory that the birds would silence
on a day like this.
–Jesse Nathan

If the state
If the STATE
If the goddamn state is ready to kill,

you will never hold your beautiful bones.
–Maurya Kerr

If the state is ready to kill, do we want to be somebody before the state, or no-body against it? (Denise Ferreira da Silva)

Nothing can keep our beloved stories apart.
—Giselle Medina

We write because it is dangerous not to do so, D’mani reflects. There are poems that help us, that move us through. That risks bravery, Lindsay and Chiyuma Elliott add. And to write in community is another special consent to the nature of being here—the life we choose is the one we choose together, to make possible something unpredictable, unfurling, and outrageously free.

I am possible.

The worlds we imagine are as possible as we are.

We shall write them all.

1st row: Anastasia Le, Gisselle Medina, Lindsay Choi, Vincente Perez
2nd row: Ahmad Diab, Jesse Nathan, Maurya Kerr, D’mani Thomas

Menat Allah El Attma is an Egyptian Muslim woman, educator, writer, and visual artist. Menat graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in English literature and is pursuing her teaching credential. She is a logophile and linguaphile, working to affect a similar love for words/languages in her students through the practice and art of storytelling. She believes art is in the telling of the story as much as the story itselfMenat was a 2020 ARC Poetry & the Senses fellow.