One of the defining events of the past year, in Minnesota and around the world, was the murder of George Floyd and the international protests demanding justice. Though Mr. Floyd’s murder was shocking, for many people it fit a pattern of racism and violence inflicted upon Black people and BIPOC communities in this country. In response, Poet (and friend of the podcast) Mary Moore Easter created a collection of poems by nine Black, Minnesota poets who used their art to process the pain of George Floyd’s murder, the trauma of systemic racism, and question what it means to resist.
In this episode, Lissa speaks with Mary Moore Easter, editor and poet, as well as Bernard James, a poet who lived near the intersection now known as George Floyd Square. The collection is titled Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: Poems in response to the murder of George Floyd (copies can be found on Rain Taxi’s website).
From Mary Moore Easter, Editor of Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop :
The murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, and the surrounding social upheaval, cry out in this concentrated collection of poems. Minnesota Black poets of three generations sing their grief, resistance, and heart-bruised love in this time of turmoil. They call out what’s lost, how circumstances repeat through time, and the national consequences we shoulder. Varied acts of language invoke the natural world of ants, birds, and bumblebees, of Carolina Reaper peppers and “sour fruit gone straight to rot.” They name the contested soil of our streets, highways, and neighborhoods, even as they search for the comfort of a home. In the face of endangered bodies, they assert belonging—“we made ourselves a home”—and call for breath to fill a single set of lungs, and to sustain a whole people.
—Mary Moore Easter
This video was produced to support the launch of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, a chapbook published by Rain Taxi and edited by Mary Moore Easter in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Twin Cities Book Festival.
To purchase a copy of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, visit raintaxi.org
GO Deeper: Additional Materials
Read: Bernard James’s Website – learn about his writing
Watch: a Mini-Documentary from independent news organization Unicorn Riot on the community and activism at George Floyd Square
Watch: Collection of individual poet readings from the chapbook
Explore more of Mary Moore Easter’s recent works:
From the Flutes of Our Bones (Published by Noden Press)
Free Papers: poems inspired by the testimony of Eliza Winston, a Mississippi slave freed in Minnesota in 1860 (Finishing Line Press)
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