“Breathing” and “Mattering” in Today’s America : Links You Need to See


Yesterday’s ruling in the Eric Garner case was another reminder of the immobilizing coupling of police scrutiny and social invisibility with which white America often still “sees” its black communities. After the Ferguson ruling, #Blacklivesmatter became last week’s online slogan; it was a tragic reminder of something that shouldn’t have needed to be uttered, for what should have been its sheer obviousness. That gave way, yesterday evening, to “I can’t breathe,” the dominant chant in protests against the decision not to indict the officer who choked Eric Garner to death for selling cigarettes; this both echoes Eric Garner’s last words and the general feeling of suffocation that hegemonic forces have inflicted on black Americans. Thankfully, people were flipping the suffocating words, using “I can’t breathe” while mobilizing — using them while demanding to be seen. The Times covered the protests in detail this morning.

While outrage grows over yesterday’s Eric Garner news, responses to the Michael Brown case continue to pour out, not just in tweets, on Facebook and in the news, but now in poetry, as seen in #Blackpoetsspeakout, and in photography, as seen in the Yale College Black Men’s Union, in their series “To my unborn son.”

As with last week, it’s been somewhat difficult, as it should be, to focus on anything else on the Internet today. That being said, should you be in the mood for something light, and something permanently buzzy coupled with something that’s no longer buzzy at all — okay, I’ll be more transparent — Breaking Bad coupled with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman — look no further than this new Funny or Die video, in which the actors from Dr. Quinn reunite for a (fake) new season, in which Dr. Quinn is a drug lord. And if that’s not buzzy enough, here’s everything you need to know about the Suicide Squad, the all-star supervillain film that’s going to be coming out (in 2016, so don’t get too excited) starring Margot Robbie, Tom Hardy, Will Smith and Jared Leto.

Contemporary poetry has become a niche form a writing, consumed by the literati and people who are being forced to pretend to be the wannabe literati in college. It’s more often that you’ll read hilarious parodies of contemporary poetry like The Toast’s, perhaps because, as the parody asserts, much of it already reads as self-parody. Of course, that only speaks to the bad stuff, so if you want to get serious about this year’s good contemporary poetry, this may help. The photo above, by the way, is of Baudelaire, because doesn’t it make you want to both read poetry and make fun of poets at the same time?

Interestingly, it was announced just a couple of days ago that PJ Harvey would be releasing her own book of poetry, The Hollow of the Hand. And while she’s been working on that, the Canadian band Stars seems to have taken over her music: they covered her classic track “O Stella” off her debut album for the AV Club. The indie-pop take on the far rawer song actually isn’t as blasphemous as it may sound: in fact, it’s kinda awesome.