Politics & Poetry

We’re starting something new here at HOOT, which is getting the inside perspective from artists that we admire. This includes their artistic vision for one of their pieces, a critical response – or close read – of a work of art, and how different artists approach their medium. We’re starting with the brilliant Alex Simand, who you’ll hopefully be seeing a lot of in the future. He details the thought and POV behind his poem dealing with the recent Brexit.

Artist Statement:
The world appears to be tearing at the seams. Driven by populist sentiment, once-celebrated progress in the realm of global citizenship, pluralism, and multiculturalism has revealed deep schisms in societies around the world and a ubiquitous form of xenophobia that is, at times, inexplicable. We know this implicitly here in the US, thanks to the presidential campaign of [redacted], but it’s with the utmost terror that I observe the widespread nature of a fear undeniably rooted in white supremacy and colonialism. Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Let’s take back control, goes the pithy refrain from the separatists. The sentiment strikes me as infantile, in the truest sense. The same nation that once boasted of the sheer size of its sprawling empire has become afraid of meddling newcomers. Though I try to empathize with any point of view, this movement towards sequestration makes me imagine a small boy gripping his blue and red rubber ball and yelling mine at passersby, though no one has ever threatened to take it from him. And so this is the image I play with in my poem, Brexit Strategy.

Brexit Strategy

Brackish child broods in sandbox
his pail
his shovel
draws a line in white, brazen,
defiant as duck-billed platypus—
he browsed
the brown skinned kids,
brought them home,
branded them British,
but playtime is over,
he says

he built this—him!—
brick by brick
though he is a child
outgrown his britches
of bangers and mash
and the kind of certainty
that murders babies in brambles

Mine, says child, brine-sour,
folded in a hole he dug
in the seventies—
a bronchial mist settles in,
the cold hug of absent mother:
polite disappointment
in her crown,
but child brackets his purview
with moats that tear his fingernails,
imported crocodiles with toupees
and elaborate insults

he is brusque and serious
when he says, breathless,
we are closed for business,
who’s laughing now?
but nobody gets the joke
when he burns the bridge


SimandAlex Simand holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. He writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. His work has appeared in Red Fez, Mudseason Review, Five2One Magazine, Angel City Review, Drunk Monkeys, and others. Alex is the former Blog Editor for Lunch Ticket and past Editor of Creative Nonfiction and Diana Woods Memorial Prize. Find him online at www.alexsimand.com or on Twitter at @AlexSimand.

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