Judging the Poetry of Courage Award for 2021 will be Robin Anna Smith, a writer and artist whose work has earned numerous accolades, including The Touchstone Award for Individual Poems (2020), First Place in the UHTS Fleeting Words Tanka Contest (2019), and nomination for the Pushcart Prize (2018). Their work focuses on disability, gender, and systems from a neurodiverse perspective.
Robin has two chapbooks and two mini collections: Fire Rainbow (Human/Kind Press, 2020), Forsythia (Turtle Light Press, 2020), Systems Askew (Yavanika Press, 2019), and Controlled Chaos (Sonic Boom, 2019). Robin is the Founder and EIC for Human/Kind Journal and Press.
On our question of how 2020 has impacted the role of the poet, they write:
“The occurrences of 2020 have well-illustrated why poetry is so important. Over time, we have seen how history books have been rewritten by the powers that wield control, and important parts of the past have conveniently been erased. The onus is on us, as poets, to inject truth into our work to bear witness and to likewise lift up the works of other truth-writers who may not have the same platforms or privileges that we do.
As technology advances, much of our genuine communication tends to diminish, making it easier for propagandists to spread misinformation. I feel poetry occupies a unique space that can help bridge this gap and spark new conversations that may otherwise not take place. There is a way that poetry captures the essence of a subject that often cannot be relayed in prose. This can draw attention to important subjects in a manner that is unintimidating yet at the same time thought-provoking. My hope is that poets will use their positions to provoke positive change in society.”
Robin shares the following poem with us: