Poetry Inspired By California Lawyers

When you hear the word “lawyer,” you probably don’t immediately think of creative writing, poetry, or liberal arts education grants and programs. But believe it or not, writing is a pastime that anyone can love to experience. Then again, others stick to reading (or avoiding). Poetry is a worldwide phenomenon that has been around since the beginning of recorded history, and for good reason.

Some Socal Injury Lawyers were inspired to form California Lawyers for the Arts (CLA) back in the 70s, but the organization has grown a lot in the almost 50 years since then. When the CLA hit its 40th anniversary, it published a collection of poems by its most popular poets. Here are our favorites!

The following excerpt is called “Tender Arrivals” and was written by Amiri Baraka. This delightful poem is one calling out to be interpreted in the classroom by children or young adults who have no idea what she’s talking about.

Where ever something breathes

Heart beating the rise and fall

Of mountains, the waves upon the sky

Of seas, the terror is our ignorance, that’s

Why it is named after our home, earth

Where art is locked between

Gone and Destination

The destiny of some other where and feeling

The ape knew this, when his old lady pulled him up

Off the ground. Was he grateful, ask him he’s still sitting up there

Watching the sky’s adventures, leaving two holes for his own. Oh sing

Gigantic burp past the insects, swifter than the ugly Stanleys on the ground

Catching monkey meat for Hyenagators, absolute boss of what does not

Arrive in time to say anything. We hear that eating, that doo dooing, that

Burping, we had a nigro mayor used to burp like poison zapalote

Waddled into the cave of his lust. We got a Spring Jasper now, if

you don’t like that

woid, what about courtesan, dreamed out his own replacement sprawled

Across the velvet cash register of belching and farting, his knick names when they

let him be played with.

Lucille Clifton wrote “won’t you celebrate with me,” taking liberties with punctuation (or the lack thereof). This short masterwork presents simplistic questions that demand complex answers about life, race, gender, and the reality in which we live — which isn’t always an easy one to survive. Here’s the full poem:

won’t you celebrate with me

what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.