By Contributor on March 17, 2011

By Isaac Miller

This week's piece, "32 flavors" comes from Ani DiFranco, the iconic feminist DIY singer-songwriter and independent record label founder. DiFranco's work embodies the phrase "the personal is political", viewing politics not only in structures and systems, but in every facet of her lived experience.

The topics of her songs range across violence, consumerism, misogyny, abuse, racism, family, relationships, the many experiences of joy, and most of all what it means to speak from her perspective at the moment she is writing from. In all of her work, DiFranco finds ways to bring large, societal issues home. Instead of keeping them at arms length, she writes from herself outwards. In this song, DiFranco challenges the confining standards of physical beauty that our society places on women, describing beauty that defies these arbitrary, and ultimately oppresive, expectations. In deeply poetic language, DiFranco demonstrates something that is often lost in the frenzy of political organizing: that in order to change our society we must first change ourselves and the way we think about and relate to one another.

-- Isaac Miller, Spoken Word Editor for The Progressive

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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