Thursday, September 26, 2013

Case Study No. 1014: David James Hudson

"When They Come for the Libraries" by David James Hudson (Hillside Festival, July 24, 2011)
Okay, so it's not best performance or video ever, but it's the first one in front of other librarians! For a slightly better performance, go here: ... or stay tuned.

Sign this:

Performed at the Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ontario on July 24, 2011. (c) David James Hudson 2011. Now go get a library card and use it.
Tags: library libaries austerity library cuts privatization Rob Ford Toronto Guelph librarianship librarians slam poetry Guelph Poetry Slam spoken word performance poetry Dave Hudson public service cuts community stop the cuts
Added: 2 years ago
From: davidjameshudson
Views: 1,063

[David gets up on stage and holds up a library card]
DAVID: Does anybody have one of these?
[there is a smattering of applause from the audience]
DAVID: Who knows what this is? Who can guess?
[some people yell out "Library card!"]
DAVID: It's a library card.
[audience applauds]
DAVID: I see a lot of really amazing librarians in the crowd. I am a librarian, too.
[audience applauds]
DAVID: Libraries do amazing things. Uh, how many people have been to the library or go to the library still? Public libraries, yes yes!
[audience applauds]
DAVID: Alright. Um, the thing is, they're under attack right now. Like a lot of public services. Uh, how many people are from Toronto?
[no response]
DAVID: Sorry ... Yeah, that's a solidarity thing. But, uh, yeah. Rob Ford is attacking your libraries, along with attacking your parks. Attacking arts grants, attacking public health things, just basically attacking anything and trying to privatize whatever they can. We need to keep public libraries public, okay? So make sure you look at what's going on in your community with your public library, make sure you use it. Get a DVD or a kids' book, y'know? Relax, and yeah, support your public libraries. This is called "When They Come for the Libraries," and it's for all my library mentors and colleagues.
[he steps away from the microphone, then launches into his spoken-word performance]

When they come for the libraries
With signs for the doors
Padlocks in hands
Hardhats and demolition plans in scrolls
Well, you know that they are not coming for the books
There are bookstores down the street
And saved preferences ready for one-click pick
To cart
To credit card
To door
To dusty shelves
They are not coming for the books
For the chambers of power are themselves
Lined with volumes of poverty plans
Sold with rich words
Sentences that push us towards margins
Deft sentences just like we are drowning in their data streams
They are not coming for the written word
Just like written words are not the frontier of civilization
That we would imagine they are
No, we know that it is our hands too
That know sometimes that
We know that it was words spoken
Comfort falling on ears
Direct and still on our bedside
On those nights that never seem to end
Those nights that shook with anxiety
When they come for the libraries
When that demolition ball stands
Momentarily motionless
Perfectly spherical
Efficient and technical
Capable neither of passion or memory
When they come at the libraries' walls
Know this
They are coming at our mutuality
For the best way to leave us helpless
Is to convince us that we cannot ask one another for help
And so, the empty library shelves
Which once housed documents of our common future and our common past
All its asymmetries and absences
Raspy whispers of silent voices
Haunting canons
Traces of text written over text
Traces of unfamiliar spirits meeting only where transluscent fingerprints
Etched across pages merge
As text passes from one hand to the next hand
To the next hand to the next hand
This is the library they are after
This is where an embrace of limits and scarcity
Is a refusal of limits to imagination
Cracked spines, aging pages
Renewed, rejuvenated under new eyes and new moments
Where curricula walls of textbook erasures
Give way to the pressure of curiosity and yearning
Standing in the stacks
Like "Damn, my stories have been told!"
Like "I knew those maps were wrong!"
Like "These are the names of my heroes and these are the words of my orientation!"
This is the library they are after
This is where an embrace of limits
Where the pleasure of give and take reveals itself
Revealing those who are, those who were, those who will be
This is the pleasure of return, of circulation
Like books through a system
Like a march through the streets
Like the blood that orbits our profoundest desires
But let us not remain entangled in heady romances
For they are coming
New York
More and more library doors slammed shut
Do you see them?
Dots in the distance, moving closer
Do you smell the smoke from fires at hospitals and public schools
Smoldering along their trails
When they come for the libraries, will you fight?
Not just for bound spines
But for our very bonds
For the ties that bind
By which we thrive
Not the lonely bondage
By which we die

[audience applauds]
DAVID: Keep the Toronto library and all libraries public!

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