Amidst the angry political debates and petty trolling social media feeds, I set out to make Poetry Breakfast remind us of our common humanity. Touchy topics were avoided. Social statements rejected. The goal was to connect us through the emotional and life experiences we all share.
This approach has been a respite to many. I’ve heard often from our readers that they look forward to the morning poems as a break from the turmoil and bitterness we are bombarded with daily.
But this past week, I realized, we are in a way putting our heads in the sand instead of standing up during such a crucial moment in history. For the first time I broke my rule of not publishing my work in Poetry Breakfast. I have never wanted to promote my poetry here. However, my conscience forced me to publish “Because of the Clinic, I am Alive to Tell You This,” a poem about my personal experience with abortion. It appeared in Poetry Breakfast the same day that the marches for women’s reproductive rights took place throughout the United States.
As a result of that, I’ve come to realize that Poetry Breakfast needs to have the courage to speak up on issues personal, political, and social. We cannot afford to avoid these realities anymore. We have a responsibility to face today’s challenges. Yes, we. Not just myself as the editor, but we, the Poetry Breakfast community, both poets and readers.
With that in mind, our menu is expanding to welcome poetry on important issues. What will not change is the gentleness and compassion that is the soul of Poetry Breakfast. We will tackle social and political issue with strength from the heart, not from the ideological fist. Take a look back at one of the few social issue poems that did make the menu, “Gray River” by Patricia Biela.
This is not a complete change of the menu. Just an addition. Most days you will find the poems you have come to expect, but now, on some mornings, you will wake to a social issue worded with compassion and sincerity. The heart of Poetry Breakfast will always remain the same.
Ann Kestner, Editor