I present here three poets who each manage, in their own ways, to accomplish some of the things I desire most from poetry. In her essay, "Poetry is not a Luxury," the late great writer Audre Lorde declares that poetry "forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, made first into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought." In the poems of Gerardo Pacheco, Cedar Brant, and Tafisha A. Edwards, I find voices that burn like the sands of the Mexicali desert, language drenched in the residue of pit mines, lines heavy with memories that are both hard to hold and hard to let go. Lorde writes, "The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives." The familiar voices Pacheco, Brant, and Edwards coax from these poems are alive still, and afraid, and resilient. If American poetry has a future, it will come to us through writers such as these.
Camille T. Dungy is the author of Smith Blue, Suck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. She edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology, and served as assistant editor for Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade. Her honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal, a Sustainable Arts Foundation grant, and a fellowship from the NEA. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
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