An Occupation

Where I was today.

We went as four to participate in the global revolutions taking place in so many cities right now. Initially we made no signs; our voices would suffice. We listened to and cheered for the brief speeches of the individuated crowd. A self-identified leaderless movement speaks in the voice of community: all sentences were repeated, thus creating a reverberating megaphone of understanding. There were independent newspapers being circulated. Veterans, lawyers, students, the unemployed, the homeless, grandparents, parents and children, a smattering of ideologies, a slight diversity of race/ethnicity, a great diversity of age and gender. We marched.

We were led by snare drums, musicians carrying a United States flag with fifty corporations’ logos in the place of fifty stars. We are the 99%. End the Fed.

At the jailhouse: memorialization of Occupy arrests and the violence done to Scott Olsen in particular, voices abound, cheers erupt. Marching on, cars honk in solidarity with the movement, shouts of gratitude and support flow from their open windows.

Underneath the bridge before the 16th street mall: A chant reverberates, becomes something otherworldly and powerful: Banks got bailed out; we got sold out. Echoes. Euphoria of the communal variety; that singular emotion. Individuals sit on window sills and cheer and we cheer back up to them, a chorus with a participant audience.

Outside the Federal Reserve: Some fragmentation ensues. This is partly a site of construction: on one side of yellow tape, the speeches, on another, an anarchist group later identified in a news source as Hare Krishnas, dancing. Throughout, various agendas wielding megaphones and voices. A young man in the front is attempting to remind the crowd of solidarity, that all issues relate to the larger issue of capitalism and economic inequality. In between and among the construction tape, the signs, the megaphones and anarchist dance party are two white haired men, sitting calmly. They are playing an earnest and thoughtful game of chess. They do not appear to notice.

Moving through/toward a destination: Our awareness of police is heightened further. They follow and surround on bicycles, with cars; the riot squad is there, dressed in black. We stare and do not stare at the weaponry adorning their clothing. Unification sustained, we march through intersections and through empty streets, chanting back and forth at each other, at the buildings, at the people in the buildings and cars who join in. We are the 99%. You are the 99%. This is what democracy looks like.

At the steps of the Capitol Building: We march up, and closer, carrying signs and still, voices. At first we face security guards, then police, then riot squad members displaying guns with rubber bullets. A man in black with gun stands in front smiling vaguely. I wonder what kind of man he is, what sort of immediate or distant future he envisions. The Agendas take full advantage of their megaphones, a cacophony. Sadly, the individual anarchist group of that moment seem intent on disrupting the unification of the march and verbally accosting police, though not such a provocation as to incite violence. This is what a police state looks like. The leaders of the leaderless movement ask them to turn the music down; remind the crowd to protest peacefully. The other leaders of the leaderless movement demand that we have access to the steps, demand that we be let inside. We chant to the police to put away the guns. We remind them of the violence done to Scott Olsen in Oakland. Eventually, the group disperses to the park.

The march being temporarily disbanded with a call to meditate on further action, we four move on from Civic Center Park. The riot squads move in black droves, protect their faces with clear shields, hold guns rigid against their chests. Bystanders and protesters are documenting with film. I document with memory and language; I have no photographs, but visual documentation of today will no doubt appear elsewhere. After we left, police opened fire on still peaceful protesters with pepper spray and rubber bullets, and the rest of the story is here at the Occupy Denver website. A further cause for outrage.

Literary Listening Ears

Oh, blog. Hello again. You are the neglected child of my writing life. I’ve put you off until it seemed nothing I wrote could justify the extended silence under which I have buried you in the great catacombs of the internet. Now I am digging you back up. Now I am inscribing words on you: clumsy words, but a beginning nonetheless.

Yeah, so I didn’t really blog this summer. And besides not blogging, I also didn’t do as much reading as I originally planned. Life, job, move…the list of excuses continues. So this is my attempt at a new topic for my first post in a while: I realized that I did do a fair amount of listening to other people’s words.

For example: earlier in the summer I had the privilege of participating in Wavesday, a community event organized by poet Caroline Knapp to honor Virginia Woolfe’s The Waves by reading it together (the entire book) all day. The readings began with sunrise at 6:00 a.m. in Fort Collins and continued until the sun set, and it was beautiful. Not just because The Waves is a beautiful book, but because people came together just to read out loud and listen to each other read out loud. There is something about being read to while reading out loud to others that is particularly compelling. I’ve been thinking about it ever since that day in June.

Not exactly the same, but close, is being read to by an author. And here’s the great thing: you can still go to live readings to hear writing come alive with that special power of the spoken word, but now you can also listen to an author read his/her work at any time of your choosing! The Colorado Review is one literary journal that has bravely put out a podcast series which allows writers to record themselves reading their poems and then puts them on iTunes for people to download free. It’s really quite a treat to hear a writer put the inflection on words of their own making, and to get a multimedia taste of their poetry that includes background music. I’ve been listening to it a lot for inspiration. Finding it hard to get in the reading or writing mode first thing in the morning? Listen to a poem to get your brain going while you drink your coffee.

Other places to look for audio versions include Matthew Antonio’s website Little Machines. Antonio has audio versions of some of his stories available on his new website, where he’s taking a new approach to publishing by allowing people to choose how they want to experience his work. Talk about inspiration: explore this site for new approaches to short story forms and the world at large.

When I haven’t been listening to literature specifically, or reading it out loud, I’ve listened radio episodes about literature via SheWrites.com. They have quite the prolific podcast series, ranging from interviews with writers like Francine Prose to panel discussions on how to write about your family and friends. These are the kinds of things you want to download to your iPod and listen to in the car or while running, etc. I have a thing about listening to news radio or podcasts while I’m cooking, and I listened to tons of SheWrites podcasts this summer while I was painting my kitchen. I don’t think audio versions of writing can ever take the place of a good book, but they are a helpful way to keep your life literary when it’s starting to feel so crowded with everything else.

I would love to hear other people’s ideas for places to find audio versions of creative work and how they use these. Recommendations for good books to run or cook with? Also, where is the best place you’ve found to get them on a budget?