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‘Here’ poetry journal calls awareness to racial inequity, environmental injustice

Published on October 06, 2022

‘Here’ poetry journal calls awareness to racial inequity, environmental injustice

On Sept. 28, Eastern Connecticut State University’s Creative Writing Club and Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion (JEDI) group presented a reading to celebrate the publication of the fifth issue of “Here: A Poetry Journal.” The issue was co-edited by English Professors Daniel Donaghy and Raouf Mama and features poems that explore racial equity and social/environmental justice.

The reading included several of the journal’s featured poets, including nationally published authors and current/recent Eastern students. Eastern student Samuel Perez Lopez read his poem “Protest of Monarchs,” which is written from the perspective of Mexican immigrants in America who protest for want of a fair chance at happiness and success.

Fellow Eastern student Kai-li Davey read her poem, “Avoidance,” directed at a white adoptive parent who recognizes racial injustice being shown on the evening news but refuses to fully acknowledge it, “like this is an issue you can just wish away.” Meanwhile, recent Eastern graduate Colleen Goff read “Sagging Pants Isn’t the Issue,” which comments on the police brutality and systemic racism that led to the murders of Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others.

Colleen Goff.

Clelie-Ann Ryan.

Jose B. Gonzalez.

Samuel Perez Lopez.

Abigail Bonilla, a staff writer for UConn Nutmeg Publishing, attended virtually and read through a video call. She tapped into social justice with “Queer,” which is written from the perspective of the parent of a lesbian who tries to repress their child’s sexuality through verbal abuse, gaslighting and religion. The poem ends with a line highlighting that this type of treatment of LGBTQ+ youth is the reason many are afraid to talk about their sexuality.

Nationally published poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan phoned in to read “A Murder of Crows.” This poem commented on bitter division and hostility among Americans about COVID-19. Crows were used as a metaphor because they congregate to select which of their own to kill.

Well-known public speaker José B. González followed with “Montville Board of Education Votes to Retire Mascot,” a commentary on outrage after the “Indians” mascot was removed from Montville High School. González alludes to the lack of sympathy for the suffering of Native Americans from those outraged with lines such as “you would have thought their tears were from trails.”

“Here” was founded by Donaghy in 2017. The poems in the journal are responses to existential questions from those writing from minority positions. A new issue is published annually with student editors varying by semester.

“Poetry, indeed, is not a luxury,” writes Donaghy in his editor’s note. “It’s a place where we can carve into words a blueprint for the world in which we hope to live. The poems in this issue attest to that essential fact.”

Written by Noel Teter