On Nov 29, I issued the “Ferguson Ballad Challenge” to express my solidarity with Shannon Barber’s concern that The Paris Review chose to publish the poem it did under the title “The Ballad of Ferguson, Missouri.” The good news is that titles can’t be copyrighted and the field for the real ballad of Ferguson, the one that will illuminate and motivate and heal, is wide open. Dudley Randall, pictured above, used the traditional ballad form movingly in his great poem “Ballad of Birmingham,” after the bombings of churches suffered by the Black community in 1963. This challenge is issued also in his memory and in honor of all the poets who have used the ballad form to battle and mourn oppression and injustice.
I am now repeating the challenge with a first draft deadline newly extended to Dec 15 (you may also be interested in my Huffington Post column on this issue). For a poet who wants to write a poem on Ferguson in traditional ballad form, I will volunteer up to 2 hours of my one-on-one poetry/meter/form support and editorial feedback (value $550), as needed, to help finish up the piece in formal style. On Dec. 15, I will choose which ballad to work with from among the drafts sent to me at the Contacts page of this website. Love, Annie