Patrick Rosal is a multi-disciplinary artist and author of four books, most recently Brooklyn Antediluvian, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize. He has taught at Princeton University, the University of Texas, Austin, Sarah Lawrence College and has earned fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Senior Research Program. A professor at Rutgers-Camden, he has led workshops for youth, incarcerated populations, and many other communities across the U.S.
Editor's Note: The following essay contains a racial slur in the context of a historical quote from a Black soldier. At the request of the author and our belief that the context of the usage is important in this case, we have left the slur as was written in the original text. The piece also contains a graphic image from war. Please be advised.
Tell my friends that I am just the same as a Filipino.
— Ed Brown, 24th Infantry, Buffalo Soldier
For the new year, we bring you a poem about poems (but not just about poems) by Patrick Rosal. It's impossible to read this poem without thinking of events from the last few months. The poem asks us to consider the power and danger of both words and people, painting the subject with flawed humanity and questionable intentions. At the end we're left to wonder where we as readers, writers, and citizens, stand in this scenario -- as perpetrators, victims, or somewhere in between?
Patrick Rosal writes on the United States' violent roles in the Philippine-American War and at home in Ferguson.
by Patrick Rosal
For Sheila who wants to learn to play