Protest! She Urged, Some One Hundred Years Ago

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Protestors advocating for voting rights to be extended to women were called “suffragettes,” rather than suffragists, to diminish them, much as the belittling term “women’s libbers” was used in the 1970s. Similarly, when Hillary Clinton was running, female supporters were accused of “voting with their vaginas.” In response, feminists now speak of their political “vagendas.”

THE FERVOR OF POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT since the 2016 election, notably — but not only — the global women’s marches on the day after President Trump’s inauguration, has startled commentators and politicians alike, and heartened some. But this should be no surprise, for protests are a solid part of the American experience. More than a hundred years ago, this American poet celebrated the fact that here “speech, thank God, no vested power…can gag or throttle.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox also complained of “the lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws.” Read on for more of her only-too-timely views.

Protest

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born on November 5, 1850, at Johnstown Center, Wisconsin. She was widely read in her time, and Brooklyn Artisan recently reprinted a New Year’s poem of hers. Her books include Poems of Passion (1883) and Poems of Peace (1906). This poem was published in a collection in 1914, and may have appeared earlier in a periodical. Ms. Wilcox died on October 30, 1919, the year before the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women’s voting rights protection under the Constitution. 

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Open Studios: Plan A Happy Post-Election Weekend

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Windsor Terrace artist Susan Greenstein’s watercolor view from New York’s High Line (not for sale).

THIS WEEKEND (NOVEMBER 12-13) THIRTY-FIVE ARTISTS in Windsor Terrace and Park Slope will open their homes and studios and invite us in on Saturday and Sunday to have a look, talk about art or not, and maybe buy something, maybe not. The hours are 12 to 5 pm both days. Brooklyn Artisan is quick to attest on the basis of previous years that it’s a lot of fun to do and certainly should give you a good rest from politics.

To make a plan over brunch, check the map at parkslopewindsorterraceartists.com. (The map is downloadable. Most of the studios offer map printouts that you can pick up and carry with you.)

The site also has a Directory of Artists that’s set up to be fun to browse. Use it as a planning tool to choose studios most likely to interest you. In past years, Brooklyn Artisan has started our meanderings at the southeastern edge, 41 Fuller Place, with the dazzling watercolors of Joy Makon. Many of her subjects are local scenes, beautifully composed (and hard to resist. Ask Joy about giclée prints, too). One year we worked north and west to Park Slope, ending up with interesting conversation on technique in Simon Dinnerstein‘s impressive top-floor home studio (his Fulbright Triptych is world famous), and another year, we circled around Windsor Terrace, buying a charming Christmas book with illustrations by Dara Oshin and a watercolor by Susan Greenstein for Christmas gifts.

Warning: It may be hard to part with your gift purchases! (Susan’s watercolor view from the High Line hangs handsomely in this writer’s home even as she types. See homey photo above.)

Keep Calm … And Chalk On

Konditori Swedish Coffee Shop in Prospet Heights, Brooklyn

Konditori Swedish Espresso Bar in Prospect Heights

Konditori Swedish Espresso Bar, BrooklynFor Swedish espresso aficionados, or the merely curious, Konditori in Prospect Heights is on Washington Avenue between St. Marks and Prospect, where it projects a friendly attitude. “Keep calm and stay Swedish” is the message of the day. Cardomom Brod is a featured menu item. Or you could choose the hairy calorie bomb, aka the CocoBall.  Other Konditori locations are in Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg and Greenpoint (plus one on the Lower East Side in Outer Brooklyn). (Photos: Brooklyn Artisan)

This Saturday, Visit Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Show

Joy Makon watercolor detail from "Christmas at the Lake"

Joy Makon watercolor detail from “Christmas at the Lake”

THIS COMING SATURDAY, MAY 9, BROOKLYN ARTISTS will begin showing their work in a juried show at Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s Red Hook waterfront location near the Fairway grocery store. The reception Saturday is 1-6pm, and the show continues until June 14. (www.facebook.com/BWAC.ART or bwac.org) Brooklyn Artisan proudly notes that executive Editor Joy Makon (https://joymakon.wordpress.com/) will be there, for she has a watercolor in the show. (Image above is a detail from an earlier painting.)

Our Library Is Hanging with the Elite

SO SAYS INFORMATIONWEEK. In the 2015 InformationWeek “Elite 100” listings of top business-technology innovators, the Brooklyn Public Library not only makes the list – the only library to do so – but it’s no. 25, rubbing shoulders in the top quarter with UPS and FedEx, NASA, Boeing, Biogen, PayPal, TIAA-CREF and Merck. Why? “As a result of our partnership with Tableau,” says the library’s President and CEO Linda Johnson, “BPL’s 60 branches are more responsive than ever to the needs of the communities they serve.” The library’s eResources – meaning eBooks and eVideos, catalog info, even homework help – serve Brooklyn’s 2.5 million residents 24/7 at www.bklynlibrary.org. See ya’ at the libe — online.

Want To Start Your Own Artisanal Business?

READ INVESTOPEDIA’S SPECIAL REPORT on starting a business in New York City, filled with stories of Brooklyn business startups. You’ll see why Brooklyn and Queens are magnets for innovation and small-batch production as well as get important leads to New York City services that can untangle regulations and smooth your way. (Full disclosure: The Investopedia story is brought to you by founding folks at Brooklyn Artisan.)

April Is Poetry Month (Not the Cruelest After All)

BROOKLYN-RESIDENT PATRICK PHILLIPS, who teaches at Drew University, is also a working poet with several titles published. The most recent, Elegy for a Broken Machine, is just out from Knopf and in bookstores now ($20) or in a Kindle edition from Amazon ($12). He is reading tonight (April 2, 2015) at Drew University (with Tiphanie Yanick) and later this month at a Poetry Society gig in the Fulton Street Subway Station. Keep up with his readings schedule at www.patrickthemighty.com. (The following poem is reprinted with the poet’s permission.)

Sunset Park

The Chinese truck driver
throws the rope
like a lasso, with a practiced flick,

over the load:
where it hovers an instant,
then arcs like a willow

into the waiting,
gloved hand
of his brother.

What does it matter
that, sitting in traffic,
I glanced out the window

and found them that way?
So lean and sleek-muscled
in their sweat-stiffened t-shirts:

offloading the pallets
just so they can load up
again in the morning,

and so on,
and so forth
forever like that—

like Sisyphus
I might tell them
if I spoke Mandarin,

or had a Marlboro to offer,
or thought for a minute
they’d believe it

when I say that I know
how it feels
to break your own

back for a living.
Then again,
what’s the difference?

When every light
for a mile turns
green all at once,

no matter how much
I might like
to keep watching

the older one squint
and blow smoke
through his nose?

Something like sadness,
like joy, like a sudden
love for my life,

and for the body
in which I have lived it,
overtaking me all at once,

as a bus driver honks
and the setting
sun glints, so bright

off a windshield
I wince and look back
and it’s gone.

 

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