Category Archives: Arts and Culture

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In Two Seconds: Tamir Rice 2002-2014

by Mark Doty

the boy’s face
climbed back down the twelve-year tunnel

of its becoming,  a charcoal sunflower
swallowing itself. Who has eyes to see,

or ears to hear? If you could see
what happens fastest, unmaking

the human irreplaceable, a star
falling into complete gravitational

darkness from all points of itself, all this:

the held loved body into which entered
milk and music,  honeying the cells of him:

who sang to him, stroked the nap
of the scalp, kissed the flesh-knot

after the cord completed its work
of fueling into him the long history

of those whose suffering
was made more bearable

by the as-yet-unknown of him,

playing alone in some unthinkable
future city, a Cleveland,

whatever that might be.
Two seconds. To elapse:

the arc of joy in the conception bed,
the labor of hands repeated until

the hands no longer required attention,
so that as the woman folded

her hopes for him sank into the fabric
of his shirts and underpants. Down

they go, swirling down into the maw
of a greater dark. Treasure box,

comic books, pocket knife, bell from a lost cat’s collar,
why even begin to enumerate them

when behind every tributary
poured into him comes rushing backward

all he hasn’t been yet. Everything
that boy could have thought or made,

sung or theorized, built on the quavering
but continuous structure

that had preceded him sank into
an absence in the shape of a boy

playing with a plastic gun in a city park
in Ohio, in the middle of the afternoon.

When I say two seconds, I don’t mean the time
it took him to die. I mean the lapse between

the instant the cruiser braked to a halt
on the grass, between that moment

and the one in which the officer fired his weapon.
The two seconds taken to assess the situation.

I believe it is part of the work
of poetry to try on at least
the moment and skin of another,

for this hour I respectfully decline.

I refuse it. May that officer
be visited every night of his life
by an enormity collapsing in front of him

into an incomprehensible bloom,
and the voice that howls out of it.

If this is no poem then…

But that voice –- erased boy,
beloved of time, who did nothing
to no one and became

nothing because of it –- I know that voice
is one of the things we call poetry.
It isn’t only to his killer he’s speaking.


In Two Seconds: Tamir Rice, 2002-2014″ previously appeared in vol. 44, no. 3 of American Poetry Review. Copyright © 2015 by Mark Doty. Used with permission of the author.


Author Biography

Mark Doty is the author of several collections of poetry, including Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which received the 2008 National Book Award. He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016.

Photo by Miki Jourdan via flickr (cc-by-nc-nd)

Workers’ Studio: El Co-op Exhibit at Queens Museum

Workers’ Studio: El Co-op is a series of collaborative art projects that use art as a tool for worker-led organizing. The Workers’ Studio is nomadic, and functions mostly in Day Laborers’ Worker Centers as a weekly encounter facilitated by artist (and 2019 SLU alumna) Sol Aramendi. Aramendi works on socially engaged art collaborations that are part of an evolving social sculpture integrating labor, immigration and art. Workers use the studio to create art projects that support their organizing and advocacy. The exhibition features a series of photographs, writing and works created by the participants.

The exhibition runs through January 12th at the Queens Museum located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Click here for more information.

The 8th Annual Workers Unite Film Festival (5/10-5/23)

The Workers Unite Film Festival is a celebration of Global Labor Solidarity.

The Festival aims to showcase student and professional films from the United States and around the world which publicize and highlight the struggles, successes and daily lives of all workers in their efforts to unite and organize for better living conditions and social justice.

The 8th season of the Workers Unite Film Festival is poised to be the biggest and best yet, with more attendees, more venues, more creative energy and many more submissions. With over 30 programs throughout NYC and over 60 films and events, #WUFF has grown to be one of the largest worker/labor dedicated cultural events in the country.

Check out the full schedule here.

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 12th, 2017

The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

With this installment of Highlights from New Labor Forum, we draw your attention to a roundup of notable books and films you might have missed. We’re grateful to NLF contributor Matt Witt for his excellent curatorial skills, which are a regular feature of his “Out of the Mainstream” for the print journal! Among the books Witt points to in his forthcoming inventory is Look, an arresting book of poetry by Solmaz Sharif. Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Sharif is a former participant in Poetry for the People, and arts/activism program founded at UC Berkeley by the late, great poet June Jordan. The sampling of her work included here, offers precise and unforgettable depictions of the dread brought about by our wars on terror.

Table of Contents

  1. Out of the Mainstream: Books and Films You May Have Missed by Matt Witt / New Labor Forum, September 2017 issue
  2. Poems by Solmaz Sharif

Birth of a Nation and Culturally Responsive Education

Last week at the Murphy Institute, I had the pleasure of meeting Erika Ewing, an Educational Engagement Strategist who works with the CUNY Creative Arts Team. She had just finished running a workshop which engaged high school students in rigorous conversation about the film “Birth of a Nation” following an arranged screening of the film for them at an AMC theater. 

In the piece below, Ewing discusses the responsibility of educators to be open and honest with youth about American history, the ways in which non-traditional approaches to education challenges young people to think constructively and critically and how promoting more open discussion of films like Parker’s “Birth of Nation” plays a seminal role.

— Zenzile Greene, Arts and Culture Editor


“Don’t let your past define your future.” It’s a quote we’ve all heard some version of before. But when we’re confronted with our own dark pasts, how easy is it to take this advice? Continue reading Birth of a Nation and Culturally Responsive Education

Orlando Vigil at Stonewall Inn: Photos

This post was originally featured at Philadelphia Printworks.

By Zenzile Greene-Daniel

I arrived at the Stonewall Inn candlelight vigil in honor of those slain in Orlando just a few minutes before it began. The photos I have taken capture the silent reverence of those attending, the solemn yet hopeful messages that decorated the shrine and those bringing offerings and tending to the candle lighting which surrounded the perimeter of the shrine in front of Stonewall Inn as well as inside Christopher Street Park.

Continue reading Orlando Vigil at Stonewall Inn: Photos