Monday, October 25, 2010

"Like a wild red poppy rooted in life": The poetry of Marilyn Buck

image from Collage with Marilyn Buck and Frida Kahlo by Bob Lee, Austin artist
"I survived, carried on, glad to be
like a weed, a wild red poppy,
rooted in life
Marilyn Buck, from her poem Wild Poppies

Marilyn Buck spent more than 30 years in maximum security US prisons for political crimes committed during the 1960's as part of her involvement in the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army.  Buck was imprisoned for politically motivated actions undertaken in support of self-determination and national liberation for Native Americans, African Americans and Puerto Ricans and in opposition to racial injustice and U.S. imperialism.

Marilyn Black was a white women who described herself as a political prisoner against the crimes of an Imperial America.  In prison Buck continued the fight against injustice and earned a BA in Psychology and became a highly acclaimed poet, writer and translator. She published numerous poems and books and was preparing a new book of her work when she died.

Buck was granted parole in 2010 and was to be released from prison when she learned she had an aggressive form of uterine cancer. She was released from prison on humanitarian grounds before her parole, but died in August 2010, shortly after her release. She had served 33 years of what was an 80 year sentence for political crimes.

Marilyn Buck's poetry resonates with a power and a beauty that I find deeply moving.

You can read more about Marilyn Buck and her work, including her profoundly beautiful poetry, here, here and here.
Three Women
Marilyn Buck 1999

two women sit on the couch
a third on her heels
between them a bench
     a private tableau carved in
     crowded prison space

dashed with English
skims across the din
they spoon out
rice fish
a bit of pirated green
Americanized soy sauce
reconstituted by secrets from home
transforms the instant

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