U.S. Election 2016

Writers respond to the election and the first weeks of its aftermath

Following the 2016 US Election, the publisher of Tarpaulin Sky Press emailed a handful of friends and writers, saying “I feel physically ill … [but] am attempting to pull my head out of this well of sadness and horror.” In this attempt to fix his own head and heart, he invited the writers to “contribute anything you would like to TS, regarding the current state of affairs — text of any sort — essay, poetry; whatever you do, however you do it, to survive, to speak.”

The results are collated below: off-the-cuff essays and poems, representing a diverse range of experiences, responding to the election and to living through the first weeks of the aftermath.

Laynie Browne, Two Poems

“She closed her eyes and remained very still, until she began to feel the language inside her soften, until the gormless dissolved, until gothic overtones rose to the surface, fell and expired into the theatrics supporting her, until her breathing became a succession of cures. What is literature for?”

M. NourbeSe Philip on the 2016 US Election

Post election essay by M. NourbeSe Philip: “Trump has won the hearts and minds of the American public that is the raw underbelly of a bloated, imperialist state. He has given new meaning to the expression: Anybody can become president of the United States—anybody as in serial harasser and predator of women; as in known racist supported by the KKK; as in a shady dealer, snake oil salesman; as in confirmed liar. Anybody! But a competent, experienced, intelligent woman.”

Poem by Arisa White: “Two Days After 11/9”

Post-election poem by Arisa White: “I took a walk outside today, / the helicopters are done / with surveillance, protestors / left burning roofs smoldered, / the tears of motherfuckers, down. // Bright nigger stars cause novas / in the parking lot, dice roll, / they exhale their Prop 64, / and I want someone to say / something magical to me, / like they’re a bouncy house / ready to soundbite their way / into believing this was not / our country a week ago.”

Poem by Rodrigo Toscano: “relay alpha, bravo, charlie”

Post-election poem by Rodrigo Toscano: “there’s ENOURMOUS gaps in my education / there’s ENOURMOUS gaps in your education / there’s a lil’ wee lack of giddyup in my wuh uh uh / there’s a lil’ wee lack of giddyup in your wuh uh uh / swing-dancing the most remotest thing to trumpism are we? / still swing-dancing the most remotest thing to trumpism are we?”

Jan Clausen, Election Journal

Post-election essay by Jan Clausen: “It’s not that she didn’t win. Regardless of what you think about the dangers of a Clinton presidency, there’s this: how is it possible that I live in a country where so many millions of people voted for that man?

Felicia Zamora, Poem to America

Post-election poem by Felicia Zamora: “skin peeled away, how defense fails; & my eyes, oh eyes, in uncontrollable wet; to witness, to experience decimation in the aortic sack; oh society oh; what you cull, piece by piece; what you strip…”

Poem by Lauren Russell: “11-9-16”

Poem by Lauren Russell, following the 2016 US Election. “Distraught in possibility, the men are afraid of becoming redundant, the whites are afraid of going extinct. I say this to my mother, who is white. I say ‘they,’ not ‘you,’ not her, a part of me. 61% European by the DNA test = 0% white by the one drop law, a ghosting.”

Poem by Brenda Sieczkowski: “| holding cell |”

Poem by Brenda Sieczkowski, following the 2016 US Election: “…we hold onto these truths for dear life we hold these truths hostage we hold a torch for a mirror up to bar no holds on hold the line of the fort of the grudge of these truths we are losing our hold on these truths we are holding a gun to these truths…”

Essay by Katrina Otuonye: “Our Waning Sense of Goodwill”

Katrina Otuonye on the US Election: “Will you speak up and protect a transgender person from harm? Will you walk Muslim students to their cars, the same way you would with a woman walking at night? Will you stand up for Latino kids who are having ‘build that wall’ chanted in their faces? Will you escort women into Planned Parenthood? Will you wait with me the next time I’m stopped by the police? Will you speak up?”