photo by Ed Giardina
The anthology is being printed! I meant to publicly update on the progress of the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology sooner, but I’ve been so busy picking up stacks of books and carting them around town to send out into the world, that I haven’t had the chance. Anyway, I’d just like everyone to know the books have begun to be printed! So far I’ve sent out about a dozen copies. I didn’t account for the cost of shipping such a large book, as I hadn’t been to the post office in awhile and was apparently out of touch with their rates. That said, if you’re in the New York City area and you’ve ordered a book we should try and arrange a meeting point so I can give you your book. The printer I’ve been working with is printing about 10 books a week so they’re slowly trickling out… the book is huge! 900 pages! I’ve updated the file on the OWS Poetry Anthology page so everyone can see it! There’s now three files: the cover, the anthology and the third file is the final segment of the book, scans of the contents of the “suggestion box” park participants put together and gave me after the raid on November 15th. I wrote a forward regarding the suggestion box which was published in the anthology and copy/pasted below.
This past weekend a copy of the anthology was on display at Surreal Estate as part of the Bushwick Open Studios event. This week, a copy will be on display, permanently, at Poets House. You can also see the anthology in its original binder form on display there as well. A copy has already been given to the New York Public Library and I believe a copy will be at the NYU Library soon… I also displayed a copy of the anthology at the Act Up + Occupy fundraising event at the end of April… Here’s a photo…
Once again, I’d just like to thank everyone that helped make this anthology a success! I can’t believe it’s making its way around the world, both on the web and in the physical! Copies are going all across America and Canada and copies have gone to Cork, Ireland; Paris, France; Latvia; and the United Kingdom! It’s truly a remarkable addition to the American Canon, at least that’s how I see it and it couldn’t have happened without hundreds of people coming together. Yes! Thanks again and please get in touch with me if you’re in the NYC area and you donated to receive an anthology as I’d like to arrange a time to give it to you… MEOW MEOW!!!!
The Suggestion Box:
When tents went up in Zuccotti Park the community was loosely divided into two clusters: At the western end of the park most of the drummers, anarchists, crust punks and long term Occupiers lived; the eastern end of the park was associated with the General Assembly, activist tourists, slacktivists, and people of privilege. However, the eastern end was also where Park mainstays like the Peoples Library, the media table, and the press table held court, and many of the people associated with those groups lived with their stations. So while it’s unfair to mandate clear boundaries, as many Occupiers blur the division made popular by Samantha Bee in her sketch for the “The Daily Show with John Stewart,” there is some truth in such observations. Such a delination places the infamous Kitchen at the center of the Park, the Park’s dividing line.
In keeping with this simplified observation, Occupiers living in the western end of the Park criticized the eastern end, specifically the General Assembly, for allowing people who were unfamiliar with the inner workings of life in the Park the ability to set rules and guidelines that would determine daily structure. Many of the people that lived in the Park full time were too busy with daily work to make it to the G. A.’s, so they often felt excluded from the decision making process and alienated from the people less invested in living in the Park. These non–Occupiers were engaged in a dialogue that felt rewarding to them but lacked an understanding of the community for which they were making decisions.
Eventually, the eastern end of the Park began to disrupt the G.A. which evolved into these Occupiers staging their own anti-G.A. in rebellion of the “sanctioned” G.A. held in the western end of the Park. The anti-G.A. was held in honor of all those living in the Park as a way of challenging the social norms that the Park’s community had established. The eastern end of the Park was made up of many small communities of long term as well as newly founded friendships; it was a place that was often criticized as violent, drug fueled, one harboring misguided extremists (flag burning, confronting police officers, destroying public property, etc). One of the most notorious bands of people in the east end of the Park established a community called, “Nick @ Night.” In keeping with the parks communal atmosphere, this community was started by and maintained a tobacco-rolling station, offering passerbys cigarettes. Rumors always seemed to fly around the Park regarding the shenanigans that took place in the area they occupied…. Despite the flack they received from the community at large, in my opinion they often defied stereotypes. The greatest example of their ability to transcend beyond the pranks and childish behavior they were known for, came shortly after the Raid, when I was handed a box they kept called the Suggestion Box. Like the OWS Poetry Anthology, the Suggestion Box was available to everyone. It was explained to me that they were curating the box as a way to compile a large body of suggestions; and once a large body was acquired, they were going to make these suggestions public so people could then engage with the material. After the Park was raided, many of the east enders left New York City, became disillusioned with the movement, or were pushed to other parts of the city with the rest of the Occupation. The box was handed to me for safe keeping/ archival purposes, so its contents could be added to the anthology and the originals maintained.
At first I typed the messages people wrote, but the typed version failed to capture the essence, the love, and the thoughtfulness that went into each suggestion. So Jackie Sheeler and I scanned them in order not to disrupt the essential rawness of the material: the scans maintain the small details that are lost when handwriting is converted to type. For the past few months I’ve been reading Michael Taussig’s book, I SWEAR I SAW IT; he gave a signed copy to the People’s Library upon the book’s release. Taussig investigates the value of the notebook. He sees handwritten recordings as kindling the mystique; he notes how they’re able to blend inner and outter worlds, to show peculiarities of knowledge and the complexities of life. After all, isn’t the Occupy Wall Street Movement a journey to discover new ways of thinking, seeing, and interacting with the world?