In the Wake of the Storm
By Emily Ruth Hazel• Isaiah 50:2–3, Isaiah 59:9–11, Luke 1:78–79
Shattered windows that we are,
strangers look through us at the aftermath.
We are the dislocated, out of socket.
Bullied by the wind, knocked down, roots exposed.
Emily Rose Hazel's work responds to the devastation after Hurricane Sandy, the theme of "Light and Darkness," and to the passages of Isaiah 50:2-3; 59:9-11 and Luke 1:78-79 as she builds a poetry collection responding to every theme from the year as a 2013 Spark+Echo Artist in Residence.
Explore the other works composed throughout the year in Emily's poetry collection, created as a 2013 Artist in Residence.
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2 Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst. 3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.
9 ¶ Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men . 11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
“In the Wake of the Storm” is a response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, particularly its impact on the New York metro region. While I was very grateful to have come through the storm unscathed, a number of my friends were directly affected by it. Some felt the effects for days; others are still dealing with the aftermath months later.
After seeing widespread power outages and damage from fallen trees, flooding, and fires, those images stayed with me. Talking with people who had experienced these losses, I was struck by how quickly our modern world can be turned upside-down and how powerless we feel when this happens.
Crisis, as we know, brings out the best and the worst in human nature—the light and the dark. It presents an opportunity for people to adapt with remarkable resilience and generously help each other, or to dip into despair and take advantage of one another’s vulnerability.
I wanted to write a poem that would hold kernels of many stories from people in different areas who are recovering from disaster, and to leave room for questions that arise out of pain and anger, as a way of giving voice to their ongoing struggle.
Where the Boardwalk Used to Be,
Taken by Emily Rose Hazel, Edited by Charis J Carmichael Braun
Emily Ruth Hazel is a poet, writer, and cross-pollinator who is passionate about diversifying the audience for poetry and giving voice to people who have been marginalized. Selected as the Honorary Poet for the 25th Annual Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading in Providence, Rhode Island, she presented a commissioned tribute to the Poet Laureate of Harlem in February of 2020. She is a two-time recipient of national Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prizes and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for a residency at The Hambidge Center in 2014. Her chapbook, Body & Soul (Finishing Line Press, 2005), was a New Women’s Voices finalist. Emily’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, literary journals, and digital projects, including Kinfolks: A Journal of Black Expression and Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature. Her poetry has also been featured on music albums, in a hair salon art installation, and in a science museum exhibition.
Emily has written more than twenty commissioned works for organizations, arts productions, social justice projects, and private clients. Currently, she is developing several poetry book manuscripts and writing lyrics for an original musical inspired by the life of the extraordinary singer and Civil Rights icon Marian Anderson. A graduate of Oberlin College’s Creative Writing Program and a former New Yorker, she is now based in the Los Angeles area.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Pitts-Wiley