Thursday, March 4, 2010

Craig Santos Perez Is Not an Activist

It truly is a small world. A friend of mine in Vancouver just stumbled upon this poetry website featuring the work of Craig Santos Perez -- and the speech he read aloud as a panelist at the San Francisco screening of The Insular Empire. What are the chances?

Reading Craig's speech made me appreciate all over again his talents as a writer. If you want to know what's happening on Guam, you should really read this speech - the part that he read at the UN, and the part he read at my screening. In a few minutes he managed to link past with present, and to draw metaphors with deft precision. You kind of have to read the whole thing to appreciate his skill, but here's a paragraph I found particularly moving:

"Instead of the DEIS marking the end of our people, it has ignited our strength and united so many of us. Despite being caged by colonialism and militarization for so long, we are rising up. We are Guahan. When we do finally achieve sovereignty, we will look back at this time as a pivotal point towards our decolonization. We reject the future the military plans to cage us in. The voice of a decolonized Guahan has become too strong."

I remember him reading these words, surrounded by people united in their concern for these islands, and feeling - for once - a sense of hope. Because it's true: this buildup has galvanized people. Dr. Vince Diaz once told me, "The Japanese military did more to help the US colonize these islands than the US ever could"... and now the US military is doing more to help decolonize Guam than anyone ever thought possible. Push hard enough, I guess, and the people are bound to rise up and push back.

Craig's two books of poetry ("from unincorporated territory" - volumes 1 and 2) are available here and here. You can check out his blog here.

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