In the immediate wake of President Trump's inauguration, Seattle poet Jamaica Baldwin wrote a series of poems, including "Vigilant," excerpted below. KUOW's poetry correspondent Elizabeth Austen talks with The Record's Bill Radke about the ways the poem gives voice to an emotional reaction that is both larger than that single event and feels freshly relevant with each daily newscast.
It's hard to remain human
on a day when mercy is a frozen river,
when the news informs me tomorrow's
as bleak as it was yesterday, tells me
yesterday couldn't have left love
lingering listlessly on my bed all eager
hands and doe-eyed, says
there's no room for beauty in this fight.
Liberals tell me, we must remain
vigilant. We can't rest, relax,
let down our guard, but
don't they know I've been vigilant
all my life? Yielding to white spaces
like ocean to keel.
Excerpted from "Vigilant"
Baldwin is a fellow in the 2017 Jack Straw Writers Program and a recent graduate of the MFA program at Pacific University Oregon.
"Vigilant" was originally published by Seattle Review of Books. (Read the whole poem online.)
Web extra: Baldwin reading "All That Splendor," as part of the 2017 Jack Straw Writers Series.