Paradise under construction | A note on “Building Socialism” RPB poetry anthology

All poets, good or bad, with or without anti-capitalist politics, weak or strong anti-racist and anti-war practices, believe in and want paradise on earth. Paradise has different names according to the language your heart speaks.

Paradise is where the beloved and I pour our souls into each other. Paradise is where I harmonize with the community, where I commune with the natural world and we emerge in and out of the cosmos of humanity and double cross imperialist borders.

And the question of paradise is at the center of the new volume of poetry, the Revolutionary Poets Brigade’s (RPB) anthology, Building Socialism. Published by Kallatumba Press and edited by renown poet Jack Hirschman in team with Karen Melander-Magoon, Scott Bird and John Curl–all veteran revolutionary activist poets and writers, the editors and the RPB went from the seemingly impossible (overthrowing capitalism) to the desirably impossible (building socialism).

The RPB’s previous anthologies were all titled Overthrowing Capitalism. The RPG decided to call the 2020 anthology Building Socialism because this word (socialism, along with other vile words like communism) are among the most detested words in world capitalist society. Along with immigrant, Palestine, Indigenous peoples, indigenous and other women of color, Black and African American men and women, Mexican… these words are detested because they all signify relationships to the land, to histories that must be told and struggles that must be joined because they spell an end to capitalism. And these are relationships that capitalism is attempting to destroy and annihilate daily.

Ever since the pandemic crisis hit, followed by the televised police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis (and the lesser and almost unknown police murder of Carlos Adrian Ingram-López who police killed in Tucson April 21 the same way as Floyd), set off a national and still evolving rebellion led by and for Black Lives Matter, RPB changed the title of the anthology.

The editors write in their “Prefatory:”

Because, when the pandemic of Coronavirus took hold of the city of New York,–synchronous with Italy–there rose up in the unconscious consciousness of many an instinct–not only there but all over the world–that only a socialism could save the dying international humanity. . . .

Because the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco has already published six annual anthologies under the title of OVERTHROWING CAPITALISM, and this year voted to change the title to BUILDING SOCIALISM, realizing that words like Socialism or Communism are the most detested words in the lexicon of the thug billionaire president in the USA….

Building Socialism, Page 9

Building Socialism is about poetry under construction: A paradise that must somehow be built out of the capitalist-driven ruins and calamities imposed upon the U.S. and the world. And the poets here are doing that: Open any page and either a class struggle rises from the page or the dream of a different better world emerges from their words. Some of the poems don’t move beyond Eurocentric binaries and others dig deep into their roots, destabilizing in the process the foundations of the dominant industrial worldview.

The anthology represents the work of members of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade (RPB) and others, bringing together dozens of poets from across earth that sing individually and collectively to build something different, something that negates the Trumpian world of misogyny, racism and class domination and exploitation–war.

This is where our poems, our words and our bodies network and mesh, creating a space and time for self-liberation, counsel, dreaming, rage and outrage, love and willingness and poetry that’s willing to say a flat out NO to the industrial dominant societies that control–or attempt to control the uncontrollable– our livelihood and therefore our bodies and minds. And what is our YES–our individual and collective yes?

For that close-up, you will have to open Building Socialism and ,like a well, drink from its mineral and un-bottlable waters.

The anthology is beautiful, it’s contradictory, and therefore beautiful because of these contradictions. Class contradictions: We want a “socialism” because we do not want U.S. capitalism. We want our words to be the weapons of liberation, love and tenderness above all else.

Building Socialism has poets from Italy, Chile, China, Russia, Greece, Ireland, Haiti, Portugal, Cuba, Iran, Algeria, India, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, El Salvador, France, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Argentina and the US. RPB has gathered poets who are multi-lingual, multi-racial, multinational, working class, unemployed, Indigenous, radical and caring and therefore filled with pluriverses, a liberated territory, a paradise-to-be, with an open left hand and a right hand turned into heart-fist, poetry for a human revolution.

What is the name of your paradise? And how do we get there?

Order a copy of the Revolutionary Poets Brigrade’s anthology Building Socialism at…/paperback/product-zwy964.html

NOTE: The author of this note has a poem published in the anthology. And it doesn’t mean I can’t have contradictory feelings about this book. c/s

%d bloggers like this: