11/9: The Fall of American Democracy
A Book of Political Poetry
In light of recent political events in the USA and the world, people from all over the globe have been performing acts of rebellion and resistance not only in the public way we have come to expect—marches, campaigns, fundraisers, writing members of congress—but in private, too. In a world that actively discourages, rejects, and silences LGBT voices, writing our own stories and publishing books about people who look like us is an act of rebellion. My own novels, Out of Order and Order in the Court, are the sum total of all the strength and encouragement the community has shared with me. I see the impact my words have on people every day. With every message I get thanking me for writing a book series with a bisexual protagonist, I realized more and more that words do have power; in public and in private, creative works are, and have always been, a form of political resistance.
With this in mind, after the US election on 11/09/16, I knew that I wanted to do something to prove that words have power, and that poetry is important. 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy puts that belief into action by gathering the work of award-winning poets and unpublished writers alike into a poignant reminder that our #ownvoices matter. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will be receiving a 50/50 split of the book’s profits to help support survivors of sexual violence and defend the constitutional rights of Americans.
In our Call for Submissions, I put out the following message:
This project seeks to prioritize and highlight female, trans, non-binary, queer, black, latinx, muslim, and disabled voices (and especially those in intersections).
We stood by that message and made every effort to reach out to communities of colour, groups of queer poets, and intersectional spaces looking for contributors. Nearly half of our writers identify as having a queer romantic or sexual orientation, and many others identify as diverse on the axis of race, religion, ability, and other factors. For many of the contributors to the anthology, writing their poems or short pieces of prose proved to be an act of resistance not only against the government they felt no longer represented their values, but the society in which such a person was able to be elected. Here’s what a few of our contributors had to say about writing the resistance:
For me, poetry is about valuing your own lived experiences. It’s about listening to yourself even when the whole world is telling you that you’re not worth listening to. When someone tells me I’m not allowed to feel a certain way, poetry is my way of responding with, “Not only am I going to feel this with all my heart, I’m going to write it down so other people can feel it too. I’m going to document it so it can’t be erased.” And that documentation can be an act of resistance.
-HANNAH JOHNSON, a feminist cat lady whose writing has been featured in Selfish Magazine, The Minetta Review, Bi Women Quarterly, bisexual.org, and the Journal of Bisexuality
As for writing poetry being an act of resistance/rebellion…YES! For me it is also an act of sanity and a place to tell the truths to myself that cannot be articulated in ordinary conversation. My poem was written in response to so many folks around me being quite literally shocked at the election outcome. Finally I had to write about my puzzled reaction to their shock. It was rather illuminating as it underscored how very differently I often view life than those whom I consider my community do.
-RAINBOW MEDICINE-WALKER, an enrolled member of the Western Cherokee Nation and part of the second class of women ever admitted into the US Naval Academy in 1977
My poem, ‘Trumpmandias,’ is one of the less “serious” to be included in anthology, but it’s not as if humor doesn’t have its place in the spectrum of intellectual rebellion. To me, good humor and on-point satire are inherently subversive. Humor highlights the absurd in a world where the originators of absurdity are unable or unwilling to see it. I’ve done plenty of reflective, personal writing on the current American peril since the election, but sometimes it helps to turn the mirror back on the subject you’ve spent so much time obsessing over. And of course, when that mirror reflects a reality in which Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States, you have two choices: laugh or cry. Don’t cry. To cry is to surrender. Choose to laugh. Choose to fight.
-OWEN ZIEGLER, who recently fled the United States to teach English in Tokyo
From these three different perspectives alone, it becomes clear that writing works differently for everyone, but that the power of writing is not to be underestimated. While we may also march, protest, write letters and make calls, writing poetry is equally important. Although some people may scoff and ask how poetry can change the world, I think that it can. For me, poetry is about connection. It can sometimes feel like writing is shouting into an endless void, but projects like this book demonstrate how it is really a form of reaching out. Our words validate each other, reassure each other that we are not alone in our pain. #119Anthology is about resisting together, raising our voices in unison so that they may be heard.
Everyone who contributed poems, short prose, and other writings to this book are heroes to me. Many chose to share their real names and locations, standing up for what they believe in with their faces unobscured. This is a form of public rebellion. It takes the private act of writing and shares it with the world: to share poetry is political, whether that poem is about love, acceptance, or resisting tyranny.
Some writers asked published anonymously for their safety and security. In this tumultuous political and social climate, our words are all the more necessary to protect those most at risk, and every dollar we send to organizations like RAINN and the ALCU is indicative of us putting our money where our mouths are. Until we can all share our words without fear of backlash, there is much work to be done, but I hope that collections like this one make a small difference.
About the Book
Blurb: Presenting the diverse voices of those most affected by the results of the 2016 American presidential election, 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy is a charitable project meant to prioritize and highlight marginalized writers for a good cause. One hundred percent of profits from the sale of this book will be donated to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and the ACLU, the nonprofit organization defending the constitutional rights of Americans.
11/9: The Fall of American Democracy contains the work of a number of award-winning poets and authors including Roger Aplon, Laura Foley, Alan w. Jankowski, Mike Jurkovic, Sergio A. Ortiz, Mindela Ruby, Claire Scott, and Jan Steckel, in addition to a number of unpublished poets and fresh young voices. From a precocious four-year-old writer to octogenarians, amateur poets to Pushcart nominees, American expats to teens who have never left their hometown, this volume collects poetry and short prose reflecting on 11/9/16, a dark day in American history.
Length: 137 Pages
About Casey Lawrence
Casey Lawrence is a Canadian writer and student at Brock University. She has published two Young Adult novels with a bisexual, biracial female protagonist, Out of Order and Order in the Court, through Harmony Ink Press. She has been previously published in Bi Women Quarterly, LGBTQ Reads, Inkspots (Small Button Press 2016), and a number of local publications. The vice-president of the Gay-Straight Alliance and editor of the yearbook in high school, she now volunteers with the Brock English Students’ Association, Brock Faith & Life, Brock Pride, and the Brock Leaders Citizenship Society. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.