Monday, April 27, 2020

Poetry Month #27 "We Aren’t the Only Species" by Craig Santos Perez

The next three poems of this poetry month celebration were recommended by people who truly know poetry: the folks at Seattle's Open Books: A Poem Emporium who generously helped me fill out the schedule.

Imagine reading in a comfy chair in a tiny, inviting space brimming with over 10,000 new, used, and out-of-print books ... all poetry. In fact, Open Books is one of only two or three poetry-only book stores in the country and offers a wide variety of readings and other poetry-oriented events. Of course, right now, you can't do that because the store is closed because of the coronavirus.

When owner Billie Swift had to close the store, it was clear that she needed to start selling books online. However, she knew she wanted to maintain some of the look and service offered to people who came into the store. She didn't want just a fulfillment warehouse so she kept all the staff and designed a process that would replicate as closely as possible the store experience. Email questions are encouraged and staff picks showcase new and important work.
Online store has a bookish look and is simple to use.
So, here's the first recommendation from Open Books: Craig Santos Perez, whose book Habitat Threshold just came out this month from Omnidawn. One of the gifts of this pandemic has been a healing of the planet, even if temporary.

Jeric Swift who made this recommendation stated: "Perez has always been a champion for the environment and for Pacific and Indigenous communities. This poem of his speaks to me because of the way it reads, its repetition actually changing the way I breathe while reading it. It's such a poignant reminder of the breath, the air, we share with all species."

 We Aren’t the Only Species
who age who change who language who pain who play who pray who
save who mate who native who take who break who invade who claim
who taste who want who talk who crawl who walk who yawn who trauma
who laugh who care who hear who fear who steal who heal who friend
who remember who sex who nest who settle who smell who help who eat
who feed who greed who sleep who see who need who belong who bleed
who speak who breathe who breathe who breathe who think who drink
who sing who thirst who birth who kill who smile who lick who listen
who kiss who give who sick who piss who shit who swim who migrate
who die who fight who cry who hide who sign who mourn who mourn
who mourn who work who school who tool who colonize who bond who 
protect who hope who lose who love who lonely who touch who moan
who drown who hurt who hunt who run who hunger who nurse who
suffer who build who trust who bury who future who house who house
who house on this our only 

––Craig Santos Perez, from Habitat Threshold (Omnidawn Press)

Here is a video of Perez reading "Praise Song For Oceania":
Click here to listen.
And here are the Open Book's last two virtual readings for Poetry Month:
>Tuesday, April 28 8:00pm
Instagram Live Reading with Kaveh Akbar, Paige Lewis, Rachael Allen, Ella Rimmer & Memoona Zahid
>Thursday, April 30 7:30pm
 Shelter in Poems: A Virtual Poetry Reading

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