Frank Sherlock


Philadelphia’s 2014-15 poet laureate Frank Sherlock writes a reclamation of radical Irish solidarity with people of color- a tradition that has suffered erasure from the U.S. assimilation narrative. Black Panther Party support, radical labor organizing, support for Puerto Rican independence and Central American human rights work are woven into a new poem/performance/publication entitled No Border No Cry. The poem will be produced as a broadside in collaboration with the Kelly Writers House and Henry Steinberg.

Listen to the audio here (Photo by Paul Gargagliano from at Kelly Writers House):

No Border No Cry by Frank Sherlock

Forget that your dancers were outlaws

Forget the famine

Forget genocide

Forget that Walt Whitman hates you

Forget your distant reflected face as the Other

Forget that they made you police to prove that you could obey

Forget the tenaments

Forget that the Alien & Sedition Act was created because you couldn’t be trusted

Forget the shame that was thrown over you in the form of flags to contain

Forget that they made you beg to be white

Forget your witchy pagan days & the wildness that makes power nervous

Forget red scares

Forget anthems of organized labor that were accompanied so often by reels

Forget brigadistas harvesting Sandinista coffee in hills

Forget 1649

Forget slave rebellions in Barbados fighting shoulder to shoulder with Africans

Forget that you’re still called lazy & drunk

Forget you were hanged over & over again

Forget that Empire changed their recipe to absorb you

Forget that they said you were savage

Forget who they called “Castro in a mini-skirt”

Forget Africa   Forget Palestine  Forget a burning St. Michael’s on American Street &

Become a Big House enforcer

Become a Rizzocrat

Become UDA here in Southwest or South Boston

Become well-versed in Cromwell’s Pocket Bible

Become a Shankill Butcher

Become a crown grunt for the reward of being able to wear whiteness

Become a ham-head who murders Fred Hampton

Become Volunteer of the Year

Become a sniper at 60th & Springfield

Become someone who Master lets hold the whip

Become top gun Stephen McKeag

Become an apologist for law enforcement

Become a victim of compassion fatigue

Become a mouthpiece for detention without charge

Become a holocaust denier

Become against immigration

Become Sean Hannity

Become a dues-paying member of institutions that hate you deep down

Become an amnesiac

Become a new Nativist

Become a church arsonist

Become a burner of crosses   or

Remember Black Provos

Remember Assata when you think of Joe Doherty

Remember Free Derry’s roots in Free Berkeley

Remember your kin as boat people from Cork Saigon or Aleppo

Remember the lily to be worn on Easter & Mayday

Remember the Irishness of Che Guevara

Remember Indian Parliament’s moment of silence for martyrs

Remember Fanny Howe

Remember Mac Maharaj

Remember your people became Puerto Rican

Remember the IWW on Philadelphia docks organizing Irish & Polish & Black

Remember Palestinian prisoners who smuggled out letters of Sinn Fein support

Remember San Patricio Battalion deserters

Remember the rising of the moon over Sharpeville

Remember the Berrigans beating missiles to ploughshares

Remember the Bloody Sunday March modeled on Selma-Montgomery

Remember Nelson Mandela never forgot you

Remember Bobby Sands Street in downtown Tehran

Remember Panthers who were gifted the key to New York

Remember Justice in the North is about justice first

Remember Guantanamo when you think of the hunger strikes

Remember No Border No Cry


Frank Sherlock approaches the work of poet as conduit, and the writing process as collaborations of encounter. He is a founder of PACE (Poet Activist Community Extension), which enacts roving guerilla readings/performances in public space. Poems beyond the page have found their forms in installations/performances/exhibitions, including Refuse/Reuse: Language for the Common Landfill, Kensington Riots Project, Neighbor Ballads, and B.Franklin Basement Tapes. He is a 2013 Pew Fellow in the Arts for Literature, and the 201415 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia.