The anonymous amalgamation

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Now I can feel the cold
wind across my bareness
I am reminded that it was 
always there.
Now I remember that I don’t
need hope.
We only need change. 
We only need 
Water.
Fire. 
And once we sink ourselves 
in for the long haul
the roots
will tear apart the foundation.

The anonymous amalgamation
By Alison Henderson

It’s a scary story, told by the ghosts of a haunted house. But the house is America, the ghosts are the anonymous voices of the American people, and the story is real.

“When you’re in a haunted house,” said Madame Curator, “it’s funny, because you don’t actually come face to face with the ghosts. You don’t know who the ghosts are, you don’t have a clear identity of them, they aren’t something you can put your hands on.”

What happens, she explained, is things start to move around, doors start opening and closing, there are footsteps on the stairway. You can hear it all around you, but you can’t touch it and you can’t make it stop.

“That’s our intention with this book,” she said. 

That book is an anthology titled “GREAT,” and it was curated in Milwaukee with submissions from across the country. Madame Curator, who helped head the project, said its 54 pages of poems are saturated with resistance, fortitude, and subversion from the voices of America.  

“It’s the voices of people of color, and women, and queer people, and the working class, and the sexually assaulted. It may not be every voice, but it’s the voice of resistance,” she said, “and the voice of resistance is one that you can’t tape it’s mouth shut, you can’t put it behind a door and lock it.”

And much like the ghosts in the haunted house, these voices are anonymous.

“We wanted a collection of ghosts haunting the house that is America, letting everyone know that they refused to be silenced, that they will not be exercised,” she said.

The title is a nod to the now-familiar presidential campaign rhetoric, “Make America great again,” a slogan that has been used to promote policies that many feel challenge the foundations on which America was built. But it is a reclamation, according to Madame Curator, to say that making America great is being active in resistance.

“This book is brutal and it’s angry. But that anger is not the anger of defeat,” she said. 

“GREAT” was released Jan. 19 to be available for people to “engage in active subversion” throughout 58th Presidential Inauguration, which has been highly protested because of its connection to what many view as attacks on human and Constitutional rights.

And on Inauguration Day, when six journalists covering a protest blocks from the inauguration parade were arrested and subsequently charged with felony rioting, the GREAT team determined it would dedicate all future copies to those journalists and each one was sent a copy. Through Dec. 31, half the royalties from book sales will be sent to the Standing Rock Medic Healer Council. Another portion will go toward the Milwaukee chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice.

The publication was celebrated with an opening book release Feb. 1 at Riverwest Art Bar, but more are being planned, both in Milwaukee and across other large Midwest cities. A copy of GREAT can be purchased at these events or at createspace.com/6841671.

The next event will be April 19 at Boone & Crocket, 2151 S Kinnickinnic Ave., featuring reading by Milwaukee poets, book sales along with the release of a resistance-themed issue of After Magazine, and special anonymous book signing with poets writing personal messages of love, encouragement, and subversion in purchased books.