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“who is this woman?”

A poem by Solange Claws

We are proud to introduce Huddled Masses, a journal of writing and arts on the themes of Migration and Mobility sponsored by the Zolberg Institute and published in partnership with Public Seminar. Our goal is to provide the middle ground, to bridge the gap between the academic journal and the news, to raise solidarity with the vulnerability of the arts. The forthcoming first issue contains poetry, fiction and non-fiction that provide, we hope, alternative perspectives on the issues that saturate the airwaves and fill our classrooms. From poems of the Caribbean Diaspora to an essay on the flocking of starlings, to the poem highlighted below, we are a platform for the long-form or the “deep-form,” for nuanced investigations that challenge and broaden. In the coming weeks, Public Seminar will publish selections from the magazine which will have its print launch May 10 at 4 P.M. in Conference Room D1618 at 79 5th Ave. 16th floor which is free and open to the public and will feature festivities and readings from magazine. Huddled Masses has rolling submissions and we encourage submissions, responses, additions, heckles and comments. Email us at huddledmassesmag@gmail.com.

—Daniel Horowitz,

Editor-in-chief, Huddled Masses

The following poem is featured in the first issue of Huddled Masses.

 

PROSECUTOR ASKS

By Solange Claws

 

“who is this woman?”

as if she was a text sent

to the wrong number or

someone off of the streets who

stormed into a coffee shop

asking to speak to the manager

 

“who is this woman?”

 

as if her motherland were all

mud and she arose from the dead

soiled and dripping, an Angolan

zombie of deceit and cruelty

who came to America just because

just because, just because…

 

she wanted to raise me here, because

she wanted me to have the American dream

because, she never fulfilled her own dreams

she, born in Angola, she,

who had her lived her life in Portugal

 

Prosecutor says

“if you get deported you go back to Angola”

“but i left Portugal, my family is in Portugal, my…”

“ma’am”

 

prosecutor asks again

“who is this woman?”

 

she taught me to tie my shoes

she sat next to me in the hospital

when i was little and attached

to an oxygen tank

she, she, she

 

 

“she is my goddamn mother”

i say, first generation lip tremors,

wondering if i was worth all of this mess

all of the thousands of dollars, all

of the interrogating, test-taking,

the extra 25 minutes being interviewed at the airport

every time they left the country

because we have no family in America

besides for each other

 

prosecutor asks

“but are you able to live without her”

 

Solange Claws is a poet, performer, and social worker residing in Brooklyn, NY. Claws uses her poetry as a platform for every day feelings, destigmatizing mental illness, and social justice issues like immigration and mass incarceration.

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Solange Claws

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