Art Works Blog

Celebrate Independence Day with Poetry

As we prepare to celebrate the 242nd birthday of the USA, what better way to celebrate, investigate, and illuminate our country's complexity than with poetry. From love poems to laments, in lines short and long, in metaphor and plainspeak, these poets sing of the America they know, the America they remember, and the America yet to come. (Click on the name of the poem to read each poem in its entirety.)

lines from Fran Haraway's poem The Fourth of July Parade

"Town traditions,/ Politicians,/ Perspiration,/ Celebration!" from "The Fourth of July Parade" by Fran Haraway

lines from Myra Sklarew's poem Monuments

"Each of us has monuments in th ebone case of memory. Earth-/ bound, I take my sac of marble and carry it down lonely city streets where our/ generals on horseback and a tall bearded man keep watch over all their/ citizens...." from "Monuments" by Myra Sklarew

lines from Miller  Williams' poem Of History and Hope

"We have memorized America,/ how it was born and who we have been and where./ In ceremonies and silence we say the words,/ telling the stories, singing the old songs." from "Of History and Hope" by Miller Williams

lines from Claude McKay's poem America

"Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,/ And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth,/ Stealing my breath of life, I will confess/ I love this cultured hell that tests my youth." from "America" by Claude McKay

lines from Learning to Love America by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin

"...because I have nursed my son at my breast/ because he is a strong American boy/ because I have seen his eyes redden when he is asked who he is/ because he answers I don't know" from "Learning to love America" by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim

lines from Paul Revere's ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Listen, my children, and you shall hear/ Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,/ On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;/ Hardly a man is now alive/ Who remembers that famous day and year." from "The Landlord's Tale. Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

lines from Immigrant Picnic by Gregor Djanikian

"It's the Fourth of July, the flags/ are painting the town,/ the plastic forks and knives/ are laid out like a parade" from "Immigrant Picnic" by Greogry Djanikian

lines from Dear America by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

"I pick you up/ & you are a hicld made of longing/ clasped to my neck...." from "Dear America" by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

lines from America I sing you back by Allison Adele Hedge Coke

"When she grows far past her self-considered purpose,/ I will sing her back, sing her back. I will sing. Oh I will--I do./ America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in." from "America, I sing you back" by Allison Adele Hedge Coke


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