Patricia Smith awarded the Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award by SDWG Board President Ellen Meeropol & Robert Meeropol
SDWG Board President Ellen Meeropol and Advisory Board member Bill Newman
Photos by Doug Anderson
It is rare and wonderful when several important elements of a life come together and make joy. That’s how I felt on Sunday, November 12, at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA when Straw Dog Writers Guild presented the Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award to poet Patricia Smith. Straw Dog Writers Guild is an organization I love. Pamela Means performed Abel Meeropol’s most famous song, “Strange Fruit,” and her version is one of my favorites. Writing for social justice, writing as resistance, is my passion. Abel Meeropol was my father-in-law and my grandson shares his name. Patricia Smith is a poet/activist I admire enormously.
These elements coming together – family and social justice and writing and community – is satisfying on both a personal and political level. I could not have been happier, or more proud. Equally amazing was the audience, many writers and artists, who told me about the convergence of these elements in their own lives and work. Patricia Smith said that sometimes it feels like we’re writing into a void. We need to support each other’s words of resistance. We need to remind each other that we’re together in this work.
As a community, we needed Sunday’s program, and we need more convergences like it, opportunities to celebrate our commitment to justice and to writing, and to the ways they work together to illuminate our world and to change it.