Today I had the honor of marching in downtown Ithaca, with HORDES OF BEAUTIFUL HUMANS, followed by speaking/reading at the magnificent rally on the Commons. For all my friends who could not be there in person, if you want to know what I said . . . read on.
Hello all you beautiful people. I'm Zee Zahava and I've been invited to read a poem to you, as the current Poet Laureate for Tompkins County.
First I'd like to share a quote by a woman who was known as the Warrior Poet, the lesbian activist Elsa Gidlow. She said: “We must envision the world we want, make it so real in our hearts that it already exists.... "
People all over the country are doing that today, right now, envisioning the world we want. A world where we stand with our sisters and brothers, with respect and compassion, with fire in our hearts and in our bellies. THIS is real.
When I came into the women's movement, the feminist movement, in the early 1970s, books were a life-line for us. Words we read on the page provided context, they shaped us. Over the years, poets like Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Marge Piercy, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Judy Grahn, Pat Parker, Sonia Sanchez, and so many others, offered a new vocabulary, a way of thinking about ourselves in the world. And there was the book Our Bodies, Ourselves — life-affirming, life-changing. When women talk about our bodies, when we claim the right to own our own bodies …. that is radical.
A while ago I wrote a poem, it's really just a long list, a collection of associations that popped up at a particular time. If I wrote it today, it would have different words. If YOU wrote a poem like this, YOU would choose different words. It is a good thing, I think, to consider not only what our bodies are, but also what they are not.
My Body, My Self
my body is not a tree an old sock an accordion
it is not a railroad track a second-hand car
or a shiny new penny
my body is not burnt toast a splinter a false alarm
it is not a loose button a loose tooth or a loose cannon
it is not a see-saw a tornado a thimble
my body is not a lie
my body is not a barbie doll or a heavy metal band
it is not a girl scout troop a pocket knife a silk kimono
my body is not X-rated
it is not a puppet a ripe melon a map or a metaphor
it does not sky dive play hide and seek or jump rope
my body is not pink, petite, polite, or punctual
it is not on call checked-out over-due assigned
resigned or re-designed
my body is not abandoned or under construction
my body is not grammatical it is not well-punctuated
my body is not poetic
my body is not over