This is a poetry book that takes a fresh and at times troubled look at how to do politics, and a fresh look at how to do poetry that engages politics. Its site is the Occupy Wall Street meme Occupy Oakland which began October 10, 2011, almost a month after Occupy Wall Street, as a project to continuously occupy Oakland California’s city hall square in protest against United States wealth distribution and banking practices. The project has continued in the form of smaller sporadic actions to the present.
To some extent Spahr’s text is a journal of her attempts “week after week” to be present at least some of the time as a supporter of the occupation and participant in its marches and demonstrations – despite her contrasting and possibly conflicting needs to protect and educate her young son, who is often with her, and to carry on the everyday middle-class life that she can so easily return to by merely walking a block from the sometimes violent demonstrations. “I should tell you that I never spent the night at the occupation”( 19). The ‘authenticity’ of the text is often due to the seeming candour of the poet about her limited and ‘nervous’ participation in a project she largely supports.
I have a tendency to anxiously slow down. I also stay to the side. I am nervous,
nervous. I want to keep saying this. I am an anxious body. Shortly after we step
out into the street, the white vans, which have been idly waiting nearby, pull
out and the motorcycles drive up from behind. Engines then and bright directed
The protesters have a mixture of political aims, from anti-poverty activists and chanting police-violence opponents to “black bloc” anarchists (familiar to Canadians at the Toronto G20