BACK TO REALITY: Back to work today. Ho hum. I've got the America blahs, which happens everytime I return from a visit to the UK. I don't belong in America...never have. I told Krys today that I feel like I'm in a form of exile, and that England is my true, spiritual home. I feel more alive there, more creative. The writing has been pouring out of me. So, I'm starting to put into motion a three year plan which will culminate in my permanent relocation to England.

That plan includes weaning myself and paying off the hideous credit card debt I've racked up over the last 18 years or so. For almost a year, I've been slowly doing this anyway, and only emergency or large purchases (like airplane tickets to fly to London) have been put on the dreaded Visa. The other mission is to begin finding a means of income once I get there. I plan to spend the next six months doing some hardcore research into working in the UK. Whether my journalism experience will manifest a job in greater London is debatable. Since I've become fairly proficient in computers over the last few years, I've considered getting a certificate or training in web design. Technology jobs are easier to find, so it's a possibility.

I've also discovered that I could live quite happily outside the city of London proper. With the fast train system, you can be in the capital in half an hour or less, and the cost of living outside London is so much more manageable. As long as I'm close to London, I'll be happy. I don't need some fancy flat...just bright, clean and reasonably modern.

I've got to turn this dream into reality. It's time to stop talking and start walking. I'll keep you posted.

On other fronts, the whole "po biz" side of being a poet has finely just about worn me to a frazzle. Uncle, I say, uncle! I've got one reading scheduled in December and one in January, but other than that my calendar is a blank slate until April and the release of What Remains. The planned "summer break" never really materialized, but now that I'm settled into my new apartment and the writing is going well, I plan to hibernate for the winter. Sure, there will be little side projects (Such as writing the grant for Poetry Atlanta) and hosting an event here or there. I have to admit the new Poetry at Portfolio Center has been a huge disappointment. The Nov. 4 reading with Jackie Sheeler and John Amen (two brilliant poets) was attended by about 10 people, and they were all students from the school. It's not like it didn't get publicity. While I love hearing the poets, the law of diminishing returns definitely applies. I'll keep you posted.

On the political front, and another reason why I can't wait to get out of America, is the fact that our moron of a president now has the lowest approval ratings ever. I think they're even lower than Nixon. He's at 37 percent, yet he keeps saying America is going to "stay the course" in Iraq and that the numbers won't effect policy. Meanwhile, the economy continues to tank and terrorists continue their campaigns around the world (including the weekend bombing of hotels in Jordan). It boggles my mind that more than 50 percent of Americans voted for this jerk off, and NOW they're unhappy with his job performance.

Oh, and did you know that half of New Orleans is still in the dark 10 weeks after Hurricane Katrina? Power company Entergy is bankrupt, and that means only the downtown area has power (French Quarter, Central Business District, Garden District), while the rest remains in darkness. The media has moved on, so there's no Anderson Cooper to keep up the pressure and embarrass the government. The government -- local, state and federal -- should be ashamed. Is this really America we're living in?


nolapoet said…
There's the exile of choice, and the exile against will. Unfortunately, I moved from one category to the other when Katrina hit.

I don't think it's entirely fair to use Anderson Coopr as a symbol of media disinterest in the reigning junta's studied destruction of my hometown. Cooper does have strong personal ties to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast via his father. Of the bunch, Anderson Cooper was perhaps the highest-profile on-air personality to visibly give a damn about what CONTINUES to happen--AND to act like a journalist instead of Vanna White or a telephone sales rep for the administration.

My city is being carved up in the world's biggest pork roast for Bush donors since El Presidente decided Iraq's oil needed "liberating" into his cronies' profit bases.

As New Orleans and the region indeed are not truly American cities, culturally speaking (we have far more in common with our French/Spanish/Caribbean roots), I see the current machinations of Karl Rove (contract-giver) and Mike Brown (FEMA fashion victim) as 100% in line with our roots. As in Latin America, so in Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

He has split us into a diaspora, raised irrational fears of New Orleans evacuees "spreading gang violence" (see the dumbass article in last week's Clayton News-Daily, p.1), and is letting my city rot until his Century-Club donor-cronies can bulldoze it and Pres Kabacoff and Donald Trump can put up 200-story rabbit hutches at a million bucks a pop, a la Atlanta's prefab landscape.

See, the problem is this. Outsiders think New Orleans consists of the 200 through 600 blocks of Bourbon Street. The field hands who make the party run 24/7 also happen to be the Mardi Gras Indians and jazz and (REAL) R&B musicians who provide the background to their frat-boy drinking and sorority-gal-tit-showing.

The wealthy New Orleanians who shook their heads in disbelief when people called in to say, "Hey, my kids are in better schools and I make more money, so stick your maid job" forgot sometihng: A Negro-free zone is a culture-free zone. By treating black New Orleanians like field hands and minstrel singers, then taking away their homes and neighborhoods and even members of their family, the ruling junta showed its deep hatred of black people, poor people, DIFFERENT people who don't live the WASP ideal.

So, if this is the developers' idea of "slum clearance," which some have shamelessly stated outright, New Orleans should fit right in with the rest of America as a Disneyfied version of itself, one Wal-Mart and strip mall after another, from sea to oil-slicked sea. Now that the carcinogens and heavy metals which Bush and the rest of the petrochemical industry have packed into our bayous for the past 80 years have risen to the surface, may they find rest in every crevice of the ruling junta's vital organs.

We are looking to move elsewhere, too--but let me tell you this: every decent country is being infiltrated by ugly Americans retiring early so that they can indulge plantation fantasies on the backs of brown people for pennies on the dollar. "Live like a millionaire in San Miguel de Allende"--the ads are sickening. Eventually, all the Mexicans will move to the States to get away from the gringos!

Those with a romanticized, tourist version of totalitarianism may find comfort mouthing SWP slogans against the evils of capitalism in Cuba--until reality sets in when they express an actual opinion, or discover there's no personal computer or meat to be had.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is throwing up bases as fast as it can in Latin American oil-producing countries while daring Venezuela (Cuba's staunchest ally) to a pissing match.

Moving to England, you'll be in the largely-familiar Anglo world, but you'll also be in the belly of the U.S.'s closest ally. And it's a monarchy, run by a parliament largely controlled by landed, titled aristocrats--the Senate is a poor man's House of Lords. Go there because you love England, not because you think it's an alternative to American political corruption.

I'm not really fond of moving someplace that, in 20 years, will need "liberating" by President Jenna Bush just to fill some Buckhead moron's rolling den a/k/a SUV with $5 a gallon gas.

I thought about Switzerland. I'll get too old and definitely too cold to wait out the 20 years or so it takes to think about becoming a completely neutral Swiss citizen.

In short, there's nowhere to run. As Audre Lorde wrote, your (electoral) silence will not protect you.

Perhaps the time has come for Americans to stand and fight, to take back our country and really make it our own, to dispense with the word games that countenance social inequities, to impose some limits on the flagrant waste and conspicuous consumerism that has become the Trump card excusing all sorts of abuse.

Perhaps we can hold those Democrats (and now Republicans) waking up from the fantasy to some standard, whereby they must represent the people and not the corporations padding their campaign chests.

It's time to wipe trickle-down economics from the body politic's leg, show no mercy on compassionate conservatism, and institute a flat tax on all corporations in order to fund the world's finest reality-based education system and universal healthcare for every American.

It's time for Americans to come out of their houses, away from their computers and TVs and talk radio shows, and talk to each other about real life, really doing right by each other, and what tolerance means in a democracy.

Only then will America even begin to redeem itself. And, like an honor student caught robbing a liquor store, it has a lot to answer for at this point.

--Robin Kemp
Collin said…
Robin, as always an eloquent and measured response. Of course, I realize that moving from the US to the UK is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire (although the UK is aiming to pull troops out of Iraq by the end of 2006...and still not a exit strategy in sight for the US...nor will there be while Dubya is in office), but my desire to live in the UK goes beyond politics.

I have little doubt that the Dems will retake the White House in 2008, and we might begin to see a shift in Congress next year. However, I've wanted to live in the UK for a decade (more than that actually) and it's time to stop talking about it and put the plan in action. I have many, many friends there, the poetry community is exciting and culturally, well, it can't be beat.

And yes, it's not exactly fair to use Anderson Cooper as a barometer, but the complete lack of interest by the government in getting New Orleans back to any kind of normalcy has completely fallen of the news radar. Again, only the Times-Picayune gives balanced and accurate reporting. I think the majority of Americans don't realize that most of the city is still without power or services and so many are still displaced.

The last time Anderson Cooper was in NO, he was standing on Bourbon St., which looked like it always does...drunk tourists mugging for the camera. Anyone watching that would have gone..."oh, things are fine. Let's watch The Apprentice."

I'll still be here when 2008 rolls around and I will be very active. I'm not thrilled with the idea of Hillary and her baggage...where's that dark horse candidate?...but I'll take her anyday over the current administration.
nolapoet said…
The "fair and balanced" Times-Picayune?... Not so sure about that. It has its moments, but a one-paper town is doomed to a steady diet of civic boosterism.

The case of the T-P is interesting in that it HAS had some solid reporting by its paper-based reporters (Coleman Warner, for example). However, its behind-the-scenes interests are ultimately those of the city's white Creole elite.

I'm so depressed and disgusted by the official policy against giving a good goddamn. It is only the individual poets and writers who are offering to adopt counterparts, hands-on volunteers, and those friends remaining in the city itself who give me the strength to keep going.

Today is the first time I have finally been able to start writing poetry about this nightmare. And I feel that, no matter what, I wasn't there, so its authority will always be suspect. And yet I write it anyway, because perhaps this distance allows me to in a way that my friends who were there cannot.

I feel so cut off from home, in every sense. Atlanta never has felt like home to me. I can't find my feet here and it's killing my soul.

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