I experienced discrimination at my schools before I experienced poetry at them. But the first time I was discriminated against based on the color of my skin, the language I spoke at home, or some other characterization of me, I didn’t quite know the definition of the word discrimination. Similarly, the first time I heard my first poem, I didn’t quite know that it was poetry, either. Yet in each case my feelings told me what these things were. Today they still do.

Now, I deploy the English language to work for me as I’ve worked for it over the course of the years of my education, and as my mother has worn every bone in her body to work all her life: to survive its rancorous tone and the institutions it deploys against us.

My mother’s feet are waning into the ages now, yet with each new day she makes one thing clear:

We will not go gently into the night. Every moment we get, is another moment to rise.


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