Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,
Thomas Jefferson and his daughter Patsy shall feature prominently in the 4th of July poem that I present to you and all your friends tomorrow, assuming that you come out to Community Park for the Davis fireworks. My Independence Day poems always have the largest audiences, and cause me the most concern, for they must be less whimsical and interior than my typical poems. “Keep it short,” one passerby said to me on the street yesterday. I love living in a city where people offer unsolicited opinions to poets. It means that they care, and even that poetry can matter to everyday citizens.
Howard Zinn taught me in history class that patriotism for the historian is fraught, for, as Zinn said, “human history is a history . . . of cruelty.” Set in 1776, my poem is too short to effectively complicate or comment upon the phrase “all men are created equal.” Neither Patsy Jefferson, nor Jefferson’s paramour Sally Hemmings, nor Tom and Sally’s children knew equality. I’m still figuring out how to acknowledge slavery and sexism in a poem that is meant to evoke the ideals of America.
Speaking of ideals, the comedian George Carlin once said, “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” Conservatives and progressives alike have elevated few practicing idealists among their ranks during this dark era, while evidence of cynicism is widespread. Donald Trump’s second most-shared tweet ever portrays him physically assaulting a person with a CNN logo standing in for his head. As a journalist myself, I’m concerned about what violence might be inspired by the president’s message. Trump’s focus on violence, on the blood of women, and on petty vengefulness would make any of us skeptical about his interest in making America great again.
Thomas Jefferson knew that the First Amendment was first for a reason, saying, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” I hope Independence Day will give all Americans an opportunity to reflect on our individual and collective freedoms and responsibilities. And I hope you can stand close enough to the stage to hear my short poem just before the fireworks tomorrow!
In addition to the topics raised above, expect questions tonight on the following topics: American heroes, lion tamers, ferrets, Patrick Ewing, the talk of Fresno, Prague and LA, country music themes, elusive lions, antagonists, arbitrary cruelty, the color yellow, musical instruments, London newspapers, corralling horses, Paris, European hotspots, many kilometer trip from Ireland, confident billionaires, white tigers, masterpieces, inconvenient business trips, American positions that no longer exist, prim clothing during the Revolutionary War, forensics, dactyls, runoff, documents, the current administration, and Shakespeare.
See you tonight at 7!
Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:
- Bonus Anagram. I’m thinking of a country whose one-word common name (or short name) is an anagram for word ACRIMONIES. Name it.
- Frederick Douglass. In the 1840s, Frederick Douglass founded and published an abolitionist newspaper that has this as its slogan: “Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.” The name of the newspaper was THE BLANK STAR. Fill in the blank with the logical monosyllabic word.
- Pop Culture – Music. Over their lifetimes, which of the following three has sold the most records, at 145 million? Adele, Katy Perry, or Barbra Streisand?
P.S. Poetry Night Thursday at the Natsoulas Gallery will feature poetry by Jane Beal, author of 25 books! I hope you will join us at 8 PM on July 6th for this free event.