“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
The creation of this anthology verges on the mythical.
In the words of Michelle Franke, the founding editor of The Rattling Wall and Executive Dirctor of PEN Center USA, “On November 9, 2016, The Rattling Wall and PEN Center USA put out a call for post-election poems, stories, and essays. People had six days to send their ‘protest, promise, rage, and wonder.’ Work poured in from across the country. Not just from writers, but from teachers, doctors, activists, analysts, moms, dads, even school kids.”
Michelle edited “Only Light Can Do That: 100 Post-Election Poems, Stories & Essays,” found a designer, and arranged for a reading at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles on the one-month anniversary of the election. She and her husband picked the books up from the printer the night before the reading.
Michelle said yes to every contributor who volunteered to perform her or his work. Forty writers gathered for one of the most dynamic and inspiring readings I’ve ever witnessed. I was lucky enough to be among those who took the stage to read my poem, “Casting.” The variety of voices was thrilling.
“We are doing this thing!” Michelle announced when we were down to the last five readers. Forty gut-felt pieces in about an hour and fifteen minutes.
May I add that Michelle is expecting a baby in three weeks? Talk about female power.
Congratulations to Michelle and her literary family, which is broad and deep, on an amazing task well accomplished.
But don’t just take my word for it. Read it for yourself! It may just help you get through the hours of uncertainty and fear that the coming administration has visited on so many of us. It’s available for $15 from the PEN Center USA Bookstore.