About the book

A Road-Map for America by
Anandam Kavoori

Recent events, from 9/11 to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have raised numerous questions about the United States’ role in the world and the state of U.S. democracy. As a professor of broadcast news and international media, I followed with rising concern the media’s central role in defining the terms of the U.S. war. As a recent immigrant to the United States, I had conflicting feelings about my country’s vision for the rest of the world and the growth of triumphalism within its borders. I struggled with trying to find a way to voice the many tensions I felt in these roles as a professor and immigrant. I began to keep a diary of poetry and fiction as a way to find such a voice. I wrote a collection of forty one poems make up a collection about contemporary events.

These poems are an attempt to culturally interrogate our recent history. They seek to answer questions important to all people in the United States: Why did the attacks of 9/11 happen? Why do they hate us? How does the rest of the world see us in the aftermath of the war on Afghanistan and Iraq? How should the United States handle itself as the world’s only superpower?

In sum, the collection has a single ambitious goal: to provide a set of guidelines for re-thinking the U.S. role in the world today—to provide, as the title suggests, a road-map for America. In doing so, the collection provides a counterpoint to contemporary political and media discourse that is centered on a reiteration of U.S. triumphalism. However, the collection is not just “protest poetry” but an attempt to map the cultural and psychological space that our country needs to enter in order to engage with the complexities of the contemporary world and to find a moral center from which to speak. I believe fiction, especially poetry, to be uniquely suited to this task, more than any other genre. Fiction allows for both the deft rendering of truth and, more importantly, for the imagination of possible futures.

The sequence of poems in the collection follows the time-line of events and the order in which it was written (with a few exceptions).

While the fiction is presented in this sequential fashion, what unifies the collection are the themes (and underlying goals) that run through all of these poems. The important themes/goals are:

  • Understanding the role of the media in our understanding of war and terrorism
  • Re-interrogating world events between 9/11 and the end of the Iraqi war
  • Understanding the impact of the last two years on the personal lives of immigrants in the United States and on the lives of people in countries affected by this country’s actions
  • Examining how acts of personal intimacy are implicated in global relations of power
  • Providing a critique of neo-conservatism
  • Providing a critique of neo-nationalism
  • Explicating the role of nationalism and capitalism in the world today
  • Seeking a new vocabulary for articulating U.S. identity that draws on themes of global humanism, personal agency, ecological responsibility and a sustained criticism of nationalist politics and corporatization.

The collection tries to fills that vast psychological space in the United States that struggles with our triumphs on the battlefield and the negative light in which we are seen in many parts of the world. In doing so, the collection attempts to go beyond dissent to strategize the kinds of personal and collective work that are needed for people in the U.S. in the future.

I hope to publish this whole collection online soon, a sample of which appears here in Jump Cut. You can contact me at akavoori@yahoo.com.