Today we have two poems–one from Tiani Coleman, the President of New Hampshire Independent Voters and one written by her daughter, Kira about the experience of growing up with a mother who is a political activist.
Tiani and Kira Coleman, 2011
“I wrote this poem as an expression of my political and life journey.” –Tiani Coleman
Voyage to Independence
Born, with dreams. Smiling.
The inner voice guiding – no worries
Do good . . . and it returns tenfold
The path is clear, progress constant
Foes exist to thwart – in theory
But there’s nothing to fear
In this black and white world if you choose the right
Always . . . Answers, safety, certainty. Purpose.
Don’t risk, or veer. It’s all laid out
For the fortunate few who know
Live it. Hold it. Defend and promote it.
Follow those who went before. It works.
And so it was. ‘Til the seasons changed.
Hope may spring eternal, but Spring doesn’t stay. There’s Summer
Fall and Winter, too. And all are needed for life to
Continue. For new things to evolve.
Trusting. Serving. Blind, unawares.
Used, used and betrayed.
Confidence shaken. It’s dark – cold.
In the void . . . carry on. It’s
All you can do.
Cultivate the grey, intricate shadows. They’re rich
With possibility. And when the Light
Bursts down, life rises up in a
Beautiful embrace as never before. Authenticity.
Not a beam of certitude . . . Rays of
Understanding. Perspective: gratitude, humility.
Not – us and them. Harmonious contrasts.
Each and All valued. Liberty and Equality.
Hope. Joy. Love.
My Mother is an Activist
At nine o’clock I’m falling asleep
Under an armchair
at the headquarters.
My hair: spread across the floor
My fingers: about to be stepped on
My mother: still in a meeting.
She used to push me on long walks in a stroller:
just the two of us.
We must have walked every neighborhood in the county
given every house at least one flyer
At eleven I pushed that same stroller
full of my little brother and a Costco bag of candy.
We were in an awful lot of parades under that
We distributed an awful lot of little signs. My grandpa,
I remember, at eighty-four years old pounding signs into the
They lost the race, of course.
None of us had any other expectations
from their hodgepodge volunteer campaign
We understood even as children: they didn’t have
the money to buy the election.
They didn’t even have the money to pay my mother.
At seventeen I went to another convention
on my birthday. I’d imagined a big
building — like the buildings we went to when I was three
but this was an independent convention.
This was a tent convention.
Still, it was the same conventional story
watching my little sister
Her little blond ponytail
pressed against the hard plastic seat
Her little pink coat standing out against
all the actual politicians in the room
she wondered just like I did —
Mommy, when can we go home?
Afterward: Kira Coleman, 17, is a junior in high school and the daughter of Tiani Coleman. Tiani Coleman was elected Vice Chair of the Salt Lake County Republican Party in 2001 and Chair of the Salt Lake County Republican Party in 2003. In 2010, she agreed to be the campaign manager for Hyer for Congress, running on the Democratic ticket, challenging Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in the most conservative district in the country. In 2012, Tiani officially declared as an independent voter and began advocating for systemic electoral reform. She moved to NH with her family in 2013, and is now President of New Hampshire Independent Voters. Says Kira, “My mom asked me to write her a poem for the blog; when I told her that I don’t have enough political passion to write political poetry, she said I could write a child’s perspective. It perhaps did not come out how she had expected… The perspective of a child on long meetings and lots of adults arguing about stuff is not bound to be particularly positive. I would, however, like to note that I do have a lot of respect for what my mom does and for her motivation and integrity in the political world. That being said, I have no intention of future political involvement.”
Our celebration of National Poetry month continues throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.