Viral poems Button Poetry | Minneapolis 2013
Viral Javon Johnson, Dylan Garity, Neil Hilborn, Rachel Rostad, Kyle "Guante" Tran Myhre, Pages Matam, Lily Myers Copyright © 2013 by Button Poetry Published by Button Poetry, Minneapolis, MN, 55408 All Rights Reserve Manufactured in the United States of America ISBN 978-0-9896415-1-7
Foreword I had the pleasure of being in a car with Neil Hilborn on a two-day road trip this past August when his poem, “OCD,” went viral. We were, as we’d done many times before—together and separately—driving across the country to recite and listen to poems. Having grown up working class, I was never really one for vacations; my mother and I would go up to the lake some summer weekends and sleep in Grandpa’s trailer, but that was about it. And now I’ve been to something like 30 states of this beautiful country—I dream, now, of living in a mountain town of West Virginia and looking out at the jagged cityscape just before dusk, for example, and I recall exactly how delicious my first Philly cheesesteak was after fasting a whole day and performing poems during Lent, and I’ve spent a hundred-degree afternoon in a broke down Greyhound bus in a parking lot in Missouri on my way to Austin, Texas, where I’d arrive half a day late and without all my underwear and notebooks which were lost in transit—and all this because of poetry. I’m cosmopolitan, now, which, as I understand it, is a fancy way of saying I’m fancy. I hear people talk about the dimming prospects of making a living as a poet, about the small and insular readership we can expect, about how poetry is dead. I think somebody forgot to tell the poets. In 2013—a year that saw article after article offering autopsies of some small, misshapen thing the author called poetry—the poets gathered in this anthology earned nearly 12 million views on YouTube collectively. 12 million! That’s about as many views as there are people in New York City and Los Angeles combined, by the way. And I wonder how marvelous a day it might be if everybody in both of those cities watched one of these poems the same morning. 2013 was a year that saw, too, Trayvon Martin’s murderer go free, that saw Marissa Alexander and CeCe McDonald and countless others stand imprisoned for standing their ground, that saw the United States continue its wars, that saw, like all years do, large atrocities, and small but vital resistances. On the days of those atrocities, lots of people, frustrated and despairing and afraid, asked, why write poems? It’s a fair question. Rachel Rostad, reflecting on the power of literature to shape us and our society, argues that stereotypical representations of Asian women as tragic fetishes in literature and popular culture “result in a culture that produces boys […] who see an Asian woman not as a person but an object, even when she’s handing out pamphlets at a protest.” For Rostad, literature informs the ways we interact with each other—and even the ways we interact with ourselves. In her poem about JK
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