Give me freedom or death, they tell us
these American armchair martyrs
with their minuteman-lite devotion
to their decadent wethepeople
and a kind of apocalyptic
with centrifugal revolution
spinning back to a state divided
when we all of us knew our places
in the land of the free, they tell us.
Review by Massimo Fantuzzi
“England has done one thing; it has invented and established Public Opinion, which is an attempt to organize the ignorance of the community, and to elevate it to the dignity of physical force” (Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist).
Has irony ever saved us from the inevitable? No, but it has always helped to conceal the embarrassment or the anxiety of yet another nosedive.
We face here the millions of our neighbours that have, to put it politely, a particular view of the world. There are sociological questions, and there are psychological/clinical questions that need answering. There are facts, and there are opinions that need sorting. There are instruments of control/conditioning, and there are interests/agendas that need uncovering.
Poems like this can cut through the academic jargon and show us an insight into those frontiers: we sense that what the people are expressing, with their slogans and their idiosyncrasies, is only the tip of the iceberg, the symptom of a bigger problem.
Here in the UK, the 2016 referendum exposed and amplified divisions setting people apart, splitting communities and families. While we are still bounded by this us versus them logic, those divisions and recriminations (all with very little to do with the EU membership) will continue to play out as the true impact of the vote has only started to appear.
I find it remarkable how the poet tackled the subject while remaining civilized and composed (I know I couldn’t). Sadly, despite how gently or roughly we’ll decide to go about this issue, our voice won’t reach nor change the audience in question—the feed algorithms of their electronic devices will make sure of it.
Last thing: before expressing hasty judgement over our brothers and sisters, let’s try to build bridges as we repeat the mantra the Classics have handed down to us: “Eat shit, billions of fly can’t be wrong” (Anonymous).
Review by Jared Pearce
The irony of the title is both enlightening and frightening—or frightening because it enlightens the real problem: we can see there are major problems in the United States, and while a revolution might fix the problem—and the idea of revolution should be a viable option for the citizens of the United States, perhaps even more so than democratic process—the poem indicates the citizenry, while perhaps recognizing the vital importance of revolution, will likely remain in a state of complacency, keeping their places and being told what is right and what is true.