A Poets & Writers article on writers and educators working against gun violence in the classroom names Erika Meitner as one writer “making the gun issue central to her work, as well as to her activism.”
Writer Sarah M. Seltzer notes how Meitner’s personal history has influenced her connection to gun violence. Meitner signed a contract for a teaching job at Virginia Tech a few days before the mass shooting on campus that killed thirty-two and wounded seventeen.
“My first classes of undergraduate and graduate students had experienced the shooting,” Meitner says. “It was a community in trauma.”
The article continues:
“In addition to affecting her pedagogy, the subject seeped into Meitner’s own work. In her forthcoming poetry collection, Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, September), she writes, ‘I ask my son what he would do if someone came to his school with a gun. / I would take my friends and hide, he says. I would be very quiet.’”
Themes of trauma, gun violence, uncertainty, and resilience weave throughout Holy Moly Carry Me, which chronicles Meitner’s observations on life in present-day America. Meitner, the granddaughter of refugees and Holocaust survivors, herself a Jewish American woman from New York City raising one black son and one white son in a predominantly white Evangelical Christian neighborhood in southern Appalachia, brings a depth of understanding and compassion to some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century—from the refugee crisis and gun violence to racial tensions, economic anxieties, religious identity, and beyond. With a refusal to settle for easy answers, Meitner’s narrative poems embrace life in an increasingly fractured society, and they never stop asking what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The Poets & Writers article concludes by noting how poets-turned-activists like Erika Meitner and Lisa Moore are engaging with the student-lead activism following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seltzer writes:
“In recent months both Meitner and Moore have taken their own kids to major rallies in the wake of that tragedy. It is the young people signing on to this fight, Moore says, that gives hope. “Youth movements have energy, power, wit, and savvy,” she says. “That tends to be what carries the work of changing a culture.”
Read more poems about giving hope for the future in Erika Meitner’s Holy Moly Carry Me—now available for preorder in the BOA Bookstore.
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