Anthem is my fight song. A response to the cruelties manifesting towards the poor, the “other” and the weak. Two strokes in 2013 robbed me of my life’s work, my ability to care for protect my son, mobility and a life of well, pain. I’ve never been happier and more fulfilled. New limitations forced me into tight corners, change or break. After a small, vicious period of tear laden, pity poor me, I did what strong women do. I decided to write poetry as an outlet. I was a professor of world history, I am a poet. That journey has led to Anthem. One of the first and ongoing things I changed was becoming more open, to friendships with people outside my comfort zone, namely white people. Sure, I had white friends, friends across the nation. But the hesitancy, fear and sheer wariness (I’m pretty sure many Black people share) prevented me from truly opening. I call all men brothers and sisters. I consider them that, until they prove that they are NOT my brothers and sisters. It’s been painful at times but so rewarding. My world has broadened so sharply that I admit, I’m rather smug about it. I speak with and learn from men and women from Alabama to Amsterdam.
The second change wrought in me (and these are not in order of importance) was newfound faith in God. I’m not a holy roller, but I no longer view religion with a gimlet eye. Historians, I think find organized religion, difficult to stomach. We know too much. I taught over 15 religions in the course of a semester. It was the most challenging part of teaching history. And believe. But I do. Faith brought about a new approach to the political climate unveiling itself. Hate was big business, greed was even bigger, deliberate self-delusion greater still. The answer is so simple. Confront hate, utterly, by loving harder. Total inclusion or nothing. No half stepping, loving Muslims, but hating Black people. No crying over the children of Aleppo, but ignoring other hungry children. No loving everyone but THOSE people, be they gay, no matter their faith, no matter where they were born. Total inclusion. Providence came with gifts. Ahmad Nabaz. I accidentally read a post on Facebook about him and his art. Everything I needed to say was in that work. He named it, “Blending Change,” but I began calling it the locked man immediately.
That was it, you see. That was how I felt. Locked up, locked away, helpless to change what was so obviously wrong with our world. Locked, nailed shut, melted zippers, mouth closed with a bolt, eyes welded shut. Langston Hughes’ Raisin in the Sun. I sincerely hope that you view his work. It quite simply, SHOULD be seen. By everyone. Half of this book is inspired by Ahmad Nabaz and his “Blending Change” … I literally haven’t stopped writing since. It will inspire you, too. So please, enjoy my protest poetry. Resist.
– Kimberlynne Darby Newton