Umit Singh Dhuga: “A police officer has been charged with murder, after three years of painful procedural wrangling, in the death of Dalian Atkinson. Atkinson was tasered to death in the early hours of August 15, 2016. He was a celebrated black English football player who was part of the famed attacking trio known, when I was growing up in England in the 1980s, as ‘The Three Degrees’—you will note that the press was not exactly politically correct back then (or now). I found that the terza rima form suited the subject of three black athletes who connected so beautifully on and off the sports field and who inspired so many of us ‘coloured’ boys in England to persevere in sports despite racist abuse. It was thought to be ‘cute’ and ‘clever’ to call Cole, Dozzell, and Atkinson ‘The Three Degrees’ because they were black, played with flair, and wore stylish clothes. But we know now, and we should have known then, that this is racist. The fact that the Crown Prosecutor has—this week—laid charges against the rather taser-happy police in West Mercia, England, marks a milestone in the turbid British history of race relations. This poem celebrates Atkinson’s astonishing achievements as an athlete, but also points up the painful question which his first employer—Ipswich Town Football Club—had famously asked when Atkinson moved to Ipswich from Newcastle: ‘How do you feel about him being black?’” (web)
This week’s Rattlecast features 2008 Rattle Poetry Prize winner Joseph Fasano, plus open lines. Fasano is the author of four books of poetry and a recent novel, and is founder of the Poem for You series, a digital space offering recitations of listeners’ favorite poems by request. Tanner Stening also joins us to discuss the Overview Effect on Poets Respond Live.
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