Poetic – Pop-Up Magazine

In the 1970s and 1980s, Somali poets, dozens of them, produced a massive series of political poems. Because the government controlled the radio, the poems were recorded on cassette tapes and passed from person to person around the country. They spread dissent against the regime—which was ultimately overthrown. Inspired by a story told by Lu Olkowski in our Spring Issue, and in an homage to the power of those cassettes, Pop-Up Magazine asked a collection of poets to write and record poems responding to this political moment.

From the Editors

The platform of the cassette serves as an analog for another once-heralded and quickly fading technology: the truth. Fittingly, the assembled poets come by their wonder of the world honestly. The collected pieces take our political climate into account from the perch of a heightened history. As a body, they give us a series of views from an emotional panorama, looking down at this volatile moment and also gazing back to contemplate how we arrived here. Consider these words as artifacts of subculture, striking a tone of temperance and vulnerability that we can only dream of for the leaders among us.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Matthew Zapruder

Side a

Track 1

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin

Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead, Wind in a Box, Hip Logic, and Muscular Music. How to Be Drawn is his most recent collection of poems.

Track 2

After the Photograph of Emmett Till’s Open Casket, 1955

Ladan Osman is the author of The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony.

Track 3

Glory to the Father

Victoria Chang’s fourth book of poems, Barbie Chang, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2017. She recently won a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Track 4

Soumission Chimique

Yalie Kamara is a Sierra Leonean–American poet whose forthcoming chapbook, When the Living Sing, will be published by Ledge Mule Press in spring 2017.

Side b

Track 1

Welcome to Pocha Air (From the Imaginary Activism series)

Guillermo Gómez-Peña is a performance artist, writer, activist, radical pedagogue, and artistic director of the performance troupe La Pocha Nostra. A MacArthur Fellow, Bessie Award winner, and American Book Award winner, he is a senior fellow at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.

Emma Tramposch is a writer and producer based in San Francisco. She is the managing director of interdisciplinary performing arts organization La Pocha Nostra and has been working closely with artistic director and performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña for the past ten years.

Track 2

Paul Ryan

Matthew Zapruder is the author most recently of Sun Bear, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2014, and Why Poetry, a book of prose about poetry from Ecco/HarperCollins to be published in August 2017. An associate professor in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California and editor at large at Wave Books, he lives in Oakland, California.

Track 3

In the Time of Ninety Orchids

Brenda Hillman has published nine collections of poetry with Wesleyan University Press, most recently Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (2013), which received the Griffin International Prize for Poetry. Hillman serves as the Filippi Professor of Poetry at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Track 4

Backwards

Samuel Getachew is a 14-year-old slam poet from Oakland, California. He finds inspiration in outspoken black artists like Beyoncé and aspires to a career in law and politics.

Guest Editors

Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an inaugural recipient of the Guggenheim Social Practice initiative and the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship. He is also the winner of the 2011 Herb Alpert Award in theater and an inaugural recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. He is a co-founder of the Life Is Living Festival.

Matthew Zapruder is the author most recently of Sun Bear, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2014, and Why Poetry, a book of prose about poetry from Ecco/HarperCollins to be published in August 2017. An associate professor in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California and editor at large at Wave Books, he lives in Oakland, California.