poetry & tsismis: emily's blog

April 4, 2011

Poem for Grace Lee Boggs and Scott Kurashige on their Book Launch

Here is the poem that I performed yesterday at Grace and Scott’s book party. It was an honor to share the stage with Danny Glover (who wrote the Foreword to the book), Grace, Scott, Kathy Sanchez, Alice Jennings, Starlet, Diana Nucera, Jenny Lee, Invincible and Blair. It was an amazing event; thank you to Catherine Jun of the Detroit News for her article on it here: http://tinyurl.com/DetNewsTNAR

I wrote this poem after reading this:

“Grace Lee Boggs says she would like the chapter titles of her new book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, written with Scott Kurashige, to become buzzwords for progressive activists.”  ~ Larry Gabriel, Metro Times, March 30, 2011

The bold-faced items below are the titles of each chapter; there are also some great links (in brown font) to some of the references. Thank you to everyone who made this possible, especially Rich Feldman who pushed me to perform.


What Time is It on the Clock of the World?

© by Emily P. Lawsin

for Grace Lee Boggs and Scott Kurashige, on the launch of their book

The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century

Detroit – April 3, 2011

“What time is it on the clock of the world?” Grace always asks.

Sometimes she poses it to a classroom of starving students

Or an auditorium of activists, hungry for her every word.

Sometimes she cackles it to a crew of close comrades in the Cranberry Isles

on the shores of Sutton Island during Conversations in Maine.

Sometimes she jabs and jousts journalists with it, on television, radio, and in print,

With stars as pointed as the Spirit of Detroit and the quickness of Joe Louis’ fist.

“What time is it on the clock of the world?”

The question, as just a faint whisper,

can perplex even profound poets perpetrating as professors.

But now, I finally have some answers:

“What time is it on the clock of the world?”

Grace writes, right: “These Are the Times to Grow Our Souls“,

That   is what time it is.

It is time to put the “neighbor” back in the “hood”

By planting gardens instead of defense plants,

By growing vegetables instead of vegetating,

We will see “Revolution as a New Beginning“,

Not just in foreign countries where war still wages,

But in our own bombed-out city where people power rages.

“What time is it on the clock of the world?”

Well, it is our time. Our time to confront these challenges

Standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, with the brilliance of Grace.

So  “Let’s Talk about Malcolm and Martin”,

On this anniversary of ” A Time to Break Silence“,

How they gave us the anthems “By All Means Necessary” and “I Have a Dream”

Yet did not live long enough to see The Next American Revolution.

Then we return here, to the Cass Corridor, from the Eastside, to the Westside,

from Black Bottom, Paradise Valley, Poletown, and abandoned Chinatowns,

from Belle Isle to Palmer Park and Indian Village, from Mexicantown, to Rosedale

and down the Dequindre Cut:  on foot,   in wheelchairs,  on Back-Alley-Bikes,

and even on late-night busses, broken down on Rosa Parks Boulevard,

because the Motor City remains the irony of all ironies.

“Detroit, Place and Space to Begin Anew”: we salute you, for giving us

“A Paradigm Shift in Our Concept of Education,

Where even blind, abused, and Queer youth can sing aloud

Like Starhawk “Turning the Tide”, beyond the tragedies of Motown;

Where Black Panthers grow peace zones overflowing with possibility.

Where thanks to the Gardening Angels and our doulas from Detroit Summer,

our five-year-old daughter learns to throw flower bombs in vacant lots,

Sprouting peapods and tulips where fires once blazed,

Because “These are the Times to Grow our Souls”.

What time is it on the Clock of the World?

It is the time that sustains us activists, times like these that bind us together.

We thank you, Grace and Scott and Danny, for writing us into the pages of history when no one else would,

For teaching us that  YES! indeed,    YES! Indeed,

You are, – and we, – “We are the Leaders We’ve Been Looking For”.

*  *  *

L-R: Actor/humanitarian Danny Glover signs books with Grace Lee Boggs and Scott Kurashige, in Detroit, April 3, 2011. Photo by Emily Lawsin.

“We live at a very dangerous time because these questions are no longer abstractions. . .  Art can help us to envision the new cultural images we need to grow our souls.”  ~Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution

www.graceleeboggs.com www.boggscenter.org

Help fund a new documentary on Grace Lee Boggs! See http://americanrevolutionaryfilm.com/






  1. Emily;
    Every-time I read the poem I am feeling the synergy, the compassion and fire from the heart of the words spoken and thoughts emanating from the ‘spoken words’ I “thank you” for the love you share with us all. Look forward to time getting to know you and your story.

    Comment by Gloria Lowe — April 8, 2011 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  2. […] https://divadiba.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/tnarpoem/ LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    Pingback by Emilys Blog « The Boggs Blog — May 16, 2011 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  3. […] book, alongside The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs with Scott Kurashige, and seeing the play Northern Lights 1966 should give you plenty of […]

    Pingback by THIS WEEKEND: Mosaic’s Play on Northern High School 1966 Student Strike in Detroit « poetry & tsismis: emily's blog — May 17, 2011 @ 11:10 am | Reply

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