Micah Fletcher, the sole survivor of last Friday’s knife attack by a white supremacist on a train in Portland, Oregon, is featured in this brief YouTube promo from September 2015:
Micah Fletcher from the Whatcha Wanna Do Crew spit a freestyle at Poetic Justice in the Park. Check it out. Don’t forget to come out to Poetic Justice Every Last Saturday of the Month!
It’s an unremarkable video, but Fletcher is clearly a remarkable man who doesn’t merely talk the talk, but walks the walk, as The Oregonian reports:
One of the men who came to the defense of a teenager wearing a hijab on a MAX train Friday won a 2013 poetry competition with a poem condemning prejudices faced by Muslims.
Micah David-Cole Fletcher was injured in the attack after he and two other men approached suspect Jeremy Christian, who was allegedly yelling racial slurs at two young women, one of whom is Muslim.
Christian is suspected of stabbing all three of them, killing Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and injuring Fletcher. Fletcher, now 21, was a Madison high school student when he won the poetry contest.
At first, Fletcher refused painkillers. He had seen people become addicted, Helm said, and didn’t want that to happen to him. But his family’s pleas and the growing pain made him change his mind, Helm said.
“‘This is the most exquisite pain I have ever felt,'” Fletcher told her.
The young man’s family could not be reached.
Last Memorial Day weekend, Fletcher and other poets part of Spit/WRITE, a youth poetry group, were reading poems about social justice on a MAX train. The purpose was to give them the space to call attention to social justice issues, one of his poetry mentors, S. Renee Mitchell, said.
Fletcher has already established himself as a poet passionate about social injustice. One of his poems in a 2013 poetry slam that he won railed against the prejudices faced by Muslims.
“When two towering trees of wrought iron and glass and cement are brought down to their knees,
We let it leave an ugly footprint on america that hasn’t disappeared in 12 years.
As in one third the amount of civilians killed by drones in the middle east per one terrorist caught in the crossfire,” Fletcher read from a black book.
Portland poet Maia Abbruzzese said Fletcher was a mentor to her and another 11 poets in 2015. She’s come across him numerous times since then at poetry slams. His poems are philosophical and often have a social justice angle, she said.
Because of the themes in his poetry and what she saw of his personality, Abbruzzese said she wasn’t surprised he was involved in the incident on the MAX train.
“Just because of who he is as a person,” Abbruzzese said. “He deeply cares about other people.”
For more about Fletcher and the other two victims of the attack, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Rick Best, see “These three men stood up to hate in Portland” on CNN.com. I don’t usually get on the soapbox here, but as a U.S. citizen and a leftist, I will just say that although it’s tempting to be endlessly cynical about U.S. war-making and neoliberal economic imperialism, that’s not necessarily who we are. We are David Christian a bit, yes, but we are also the young women he abused and the three men who stood up to oppose him. As a poet, I’d like to think that I would’ve done as Micah Fletcher did, but I’m not sure I would’ve found the courage. In any case, there’s no need to indulge further tribal feelings here. I’m simply proud to be part of the same human race as Micah Fletcher.
One of the two stand-out films, along with Die Angst des Wolfs vor dem Wolf, from Lab P‘s 2014 series, this stop-motion animation by Catalina Giraldo Vélez is based on a poem by German author and musician Marlen Pelny, who also supplied the voiceover and music. The Vimeo description reads:
Closing the window. Shutting up yourself. Observing your memories. Drawers open for storing of the memories, we are constantly looking for, removing or archiving again. We open a book that might be the book of our lives. The image in the image in the image in the image is a metaphor for memory and the nostalgia of forgotten times.
For more information about the film, see its webpage.
“Gaps in the fog allow a look inside: A foreign environment, observing trees and falling birds.” Melissa Harms (A.K.A. MelissaMariella) directs and animates a text by Ukrainian-German poet Yevgeniy Breyger in this film from the Lab P project’s 2014 series. (The films were kept off the web for a couple of years, which is why I’m only getting around to sharing them now.)
An exemplary spoken-word poetry film directed by Dave Tynan, featuring actors Jordanne Jones and Deirdre Molloy as well as the poet himself, Emmet Kirwan. It was selected for Special Mention this past weekend by the jury of the Weimar Poetry Film Award, on which I was honored to serve along with animator Ebele Okoye and writer Stefan Petermann. Our statement, translated from the German:
What questions can a poetry film take? Perhaps: in what kind of a world do we live? And in what kind of world do we want to live? In a stirring manner, Heartbreak pursues this question. The film by Dave Tynan tells the story of a young, Irish girl who unintentionally gets pregnant and had to raise her son all on her own. At the same time it is the history of a misogynist structured society and this, not only in Ireland, but everywhere in the world. Carried by the passionate, multi-faceted oration of the Spoken- Word poets Emmert Kirwan, an efficient camera and a wise narration Heartbreak plays around the questions of self-determination about own bodies, objectification, sexism and gender roles. The film succeeds in an impressive way, to translate the powerful words into touching images while remaining clear and direct. Tynan and Kirwan know how to arouse empathy, stimulate thoughts concerning a situation, but above all, anger!, yet, looking into the future with confidence. Heartbreak is a feminist poetry film for women and men. Courageous, angry, heartbreaking; an exclamation mark. A film the world must see. C’mere, C’mere, C’mere.
The YouTube description notes that it was “commissioned and developed by THISISPOPBABY as part of RIOT, Winner of Best Production at Dublin Fringe Festival 2016.” To date it has been viewed over 1.3 million times on Facebook and 201,000 times on YouTube, where it has inspired a lively discussion, with the usual #notallmen idiots vastly outnumbered by those resonating with its message.
In some ways I feel it’s more difficult to make a super short videopoem than it is to make a long one, but animator Liah Honeycutt pulls it off. She notes that this is
The third installment in my visual poem collaboration with Josh Jacobs. This piece explores the themes of distance (in time and in physical space) and apathy, and attempts to capture the empty nostalgia that comes with looking back on bad memories after the pain has worn off. I decided on a very analog approach to the execution after being inspired by Josh’s original portfolio layout, opting to let the imperfections show through and stand as a metaphor for the human experience.
Come Down by Sylvan Esso
Special thanks to Dean Velez.