graphic from Good Talk by Mira Jacob
      From Good Talk by Mira Jacob

PEN America was inspired by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s response to chants of “send her back” at a Trump rally in North Carolina. In partnership with The Guardian, we asked literary luminaries to share their favorite verses or excerpts about overcoming hatred. Read the full collection—including selections by Gregory Pardlo, Min Jin Lee, and others—and submit your own inspiring literary lines here »

Mira Jacob, the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations and the critically acclaimed novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, chose an excerpt from the poem “Who Will Survive in America? or 2017: A Horror Film” by the poet Ashley M. Jones, from her book dark // thing.

“Who Will Survive in America? or 2017: A Horror Film”

All year, I have worked
against this feeling, this country, this raging wreck
from sea to shining sea. Do you know what it means
to wake each morning, to realize your own brown hands
aren’t enough to protect you, that the likelihood
of any given day being your last one on earth
is too high, that we are more likely
to find life on Mars than to ever actually fix that fatal likelihood,
that we will probably just continue
with our meaningless Starbucks orders, fill the house
with Nina Simone and call that “woke,” value furry, collared creatures
over our own human kin? Sometimes, seems like they can smell
our otherness, seems like we sparkle with something fiery in the sunlight,
but not even our spectacular, crystalline glitter makes it easier
for them to believe that we have any inalienable right to breathe.