In American Gun, out now, writer and DePaul University professor Chris Green delivers an ambitious artistic response to Chicago’s problems with firearms: He commissioned 100 local authors, ranging from well-known figures (Avery R. Young) to high schoolers, to each craft four lines for a communal poem, with each contributor reusing a line from the preceding stanza. The result is a powerful testament to collaborative art and its possibility to effect social change. An excerpt:
74 Haki R. Madhubuti
the silence of the dead continues, eerily accurate //
insisting that poets, the freest of creative artists recognize //
there is the will to fight and the written will of death //
is refused, revised life-messages for children, insects; the planet
75 Ed Roberson
Poets, the freest of creative artists recognize //
guns are not creative nor art and pollute the hand from its devise of all it can. //
Death is refused, revising life messages for children, insects; the planet //
stilling its bullets will hear the living chorus from that silence.
76 Kevin Coval
guns aren’t creative, aren’t art and pollute the hand from its devised can //
control; the craft is off, the safety sprung. the color of chalk lines //
still hear bullets hear the living chorus. that silence //
is the north side of the city, tuning the 10 o’clock news to gated prison condos.
77 Luis Carranza
Control; the craft is off, the safety sprung. the color of chalk lines. //
Dividing communities, children torn from families, gunshots sound like lullabies ... //
the north side of the city turning the 10 o’clock news to gated prison condos. //
Broken systems keep preventing folks of brown and black skin from seeing change.
78 E’mon Lauren
communities’ children torn like lullabies, //
a choir of cacophonous coffins. a tune or tomb everyone carries. //
broken brown and blk skin, //
named and turned funeral, homes lost to the hood.