Brian Gilmore (’14, ’15) made the following presentation at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles as part of a panel entitled This Ends Now.
As a poet, and writer in many other genres, politics has never been too far from my writing. By the time I took writing serious and decided to be a writer, the movement for the end to apartheid in South Africa was in full swing and myself and many other students and activists rarely missed an opportunity to join a protest. Those of us who were poets wrote about it all the time and it often consumed our literature and created a personal challenge to write good poetry that we respected but that also spoke to the moment. Ronald Reagan was also President, and he too, became easy inspiration for our political verse considering policies he advocated that denigrated the poor and people of color.
It has never been an issue for me to mix art and politics, and especially, the serious issues as they appear in society. As a black writer, it is impossible to ignore the politics of my time and many writers, Sonia Sanchez, Richard Wright, Haki Madhubuti, John A Williams, and others, provided examples of writers who wrote in a time of crisis, on a variety of issues.
Read the rest of the remarks here: This Ends Now!