Monday, May 14, 2012

On The Davis Dozen & Political Poetry

The Davis Dozen (also called referred by some as the Bankers Dozen) are a group of 11 students and one Professor from UC Davis that received arrest notices weeks after they participated in a sit-down protest outside a U.S. Bank branch located on their campus.  The bank decided to close that particular branch and now the university is trying to get this group to face misdemeanor charges of conspiracy and blocking a public entrance.

Those who have been paying attention to the Occupy movement might remember that UC Davis was the site of the infamous attack by campus police on students using pepper spray.  In fact, some of the same students who were pepper-sprayed, are part of the Davis Dozen.  So, this is actually a case where the university is trying to set an example of students and faculty by criminalizing dissent.

I write about this on my blog, not only because more people need to know about this, but because the professor--who is facing prison time (along with the students)--is a poet, who has actually been doing some good work writing about poetry and politics.  First check out his piece, "Spring Georgic" that was recently published in the Lana Turner Journal, and ends like this: "why would we not call these/ the possessed/ green and gold in the springtime/ in March and in April and in May/ especially in late March/ seize the banks"

Then, there is this wonderful essay co-written by Clover and fellow Poet Juliana Spahr where they talk about being poets and activists--at different times, and at the same time!  A short excerpt here:

We suspect as well that more poets couldn't find jobs or pay debts than has been true in the near past. In this we suspect they are like those who are not poets. And from this unemployed and debt-steeped position, we are even so bold as to believe, more poets thought seriously about making massive, substantive changes than they have in the past few years, changes in how society is arranged regarding things like jobs and debts and jails. Then they stood at moments together and at moments alone and talked about this on the steps of various public plazas some holding megaphones and some holding the microphone from an unpermitted amplification system and some using their voices which then got echoed by the others. Some stood in the crowd or went marching down streets holding cardboard signs with pithy and poetic phrases written on them with a Sharpie. And for the most part they did not call it poetry even as they knew a great deal of the thinking and the motivation that got them there came from being a poet. And even as they did this standing or this marching in the supportive presence of other poets, in spaces made possible by other poets.
Visit the groups website and keep up to date with their case.  They recently rejected a plea deal and a a new court date has been set for June 1.  More recently, the New York Daily News ran a piece on Clover and the case he and the rest of Davis Dozen are facing.

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