The poets get the last word

This blog has covered the controversy surrounding the disinvitation of poets Josh Healey and Kevin Coval from the J Street Conference. As you may recall, Josh and Kevin moved their performance to another venue instead.

I was planning to add to the blog an audio recording of the event, just so that people could hear for themselves what the controversy was all about. I am glad I did not. Why? In the meanwhile, Josh produced video recordings instead.

They are absolutely worth a watch. I did not arrive in time to DC to be at the original performance. I confess that watching the videos replenished my soul after a hard Congress Goldstone-bashing week.

Here’s how Josh described the value of Kevin’s poetry:

I know that listening to Kevin provokes a lot in me. Listening to Kevin … makes me want to speak, makes me want to yell, makes me want to cry. It brings out a lot. It brings out more than just reading the newspaper or just reading the BBC — and it brings it out in a way that hopefully we can see more, more in common with each other, more in common with each other’s humanity while recognizing that we are not all the same but we can have the same goals, so for me it is creating a space that is a safe space to maybe not leave the conversation in the same place that you started it.

After you watch these short videos, I hope you will agree that this applies to both Kevin and Josh.

First off, the context:

Josh’s poem that got Michael Goldfarb’s right-wing panties in a bunch:

Now Kevin:

The beginning of the Q&A, with Laila Al-Arian:

Closing thoughts:

If you want to watch more, go to

If you want to read more from Kevin, here’s a start:

Since the Second Intifada I have thought, wrote, and spoke about these issues, but over the course of these last several weeks, I have arrived at a new beginning. Prior to now, I muddled this issue in complexity. But I have come to realize it is actually simple and clear. I am a Jewish-American man in solidarity with Palestinian people. I am in solidarity with Israeli and American and all people who work and risk their lives and livelihood for justice. I am not restricted to working within the confines of the Jewish-American community. Justice and the resistance to imperialism is a global, human concern for all people down to struggle. For Jews, yes, but not Jews alone. For Palestinians, yes, but not Palestinians alone.

OK, if you still you want to listen to the full audio (no video), here it is.

– Sydney Levy

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