Press Releases

Poetry for Political People

From Councilmember Kriss Worthington's Campaign for Re-Election
Wednesday August 18, 2010 - 09:58:00 AM

Poetry is Berkeley's newest addition to the generally prosaic realm of the Candidate Statement. Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington's 2010 re-election statement consists entirely of a poem. 

Worthington has long supported artists and funding for the arts, and wondered if using an art form might gain his City Council campaign support from people bored with politics as usual. He was recently inspired to use this novel approach to winning over voters by local musician and poet Avotcja. At her birthday party at La Pena, Worthington was impressed as poet after poet wove together personal tributes to Avotcja, intermingled with musical and political commentary on the major issues of the day. 

Although an admitted amateur in comparison, he felt motivated to give it amtry. 


The product of his efforts is now part of the official campaign record. Each four-line stanza covers two different topics. They range from the opening playful humor of: 


"The Sierra Club says vote for me, 

And who am I to disagree.” 


To a serious, complex couplet on the details of the City budget: 


“When concern for taxpayers was moribund, 

I made the motion for the Rainy Day Fund.” 


To a revelatory conclusion on the importance of keeping him on the City 



“I reformed the Permit Process but it’s still not right, 

so you need to keep me there on Tuesday night.” 


Although the poem lacks a strict adherence to classic iambic pentameter, it 

does follow a classic format. The poem consists of six quatrains. 

(A quatrain is a stanza of four lines, usually rhyming.) The rhyming 

couplets maintain an AABB form throughout. 


With each rhymed couplet covering a new political topic, Worthington manages 

to squeeze 15 different subjects all into a mere 200 words. These include 

Environment, helping Seniors and Disabled, Peace, Labor, Consumer Rights, 

Diversity, Crime Prevention, Small Businesses, Eco-passes, Tenants, 

Northside, Southside, Permit Process reform, and his “Independent 

Progressive Voice." 


For many years poet June Jordan taught a popular class called “Poetry for 

the People", which has since been carried on by students. Worthington, who 

was her friend and admirer, was so impressed by her combination of poetry 

and politics, that he tried to get her to run for office. Now he offers 

his own personal blend of politics and poetry. He expressed hopes that 

the novelty of this stylistic approach might break through to appeal to 

voters who may otherwise not pay attention. Indeed, the poem already 

elicited very favorable responses on Facebook. 


Will Worthington give up his day job, to go into full-time poetry 

writing? Not likely, since that may be one of the very few jobs that pay 

even less than the City Council. Will the voters of Berkeley think this is 

a distraction from the seriousness of the campaign? Or will this approach 

in fact get more voters to stop and think about the issues? 


One poem is unlikely to make or break an election. And we do not know if it 

will affect even one vote. But we do know that once again, Berkeley -- and 

Berkeley's progressive leader Kriss Worthington -- is a trailblazer in a 

different way of doing things. 


Candidate Statement POEM, by Kriss Worthington 


The Sierra Club says you should vote for me, 

And who am I to disagree; 

To non-profit groups I found money to give, 

to help the seniors, poor, and disabled live; 


For Peace, for Labor, for Consumer Rights, 

I go to meetings most days and nights; 

I practice real diversity, the MOST Asians,  

Latinos, students and women were appointed by me; 


When concern for taxpayers was moribund, 

I made the motion for the Rainy Day Fund; 

To stop violent crime I wrote a plan, 

for ambassadors working with “ the Man”; 


Small businesses I helped with parking and lease, 

so you can come and shop here please; 

I voted no on the bad BRT, 

but lets get EcoPasses and Multimodal Connectivity; 


As a tenant myself I know how it feels, 

so I help lotsa tenants try for better deals. 

I work long hours at very low pay, 

to get Northside and Southside to have their say; 


I love our people and love what I do; 

An Independent Progressive Voice working for YOU 

I reformed the permit process but it’s still not right, 

so you need to keep me there on Tuesday night! 


Kriss Worthington for City Council 2010 

Endorse, Volunteer, Contribute at 548-8796, 





I will stake my reputation 

that a fair investigation 

will show that immigration 

is truly good for our nation. 


So I make this invitation 

that we stop discrimination, 

deportation and incarceration 

and just STOP Arizonification. 


We need activation and legislation 

for fairness and legalization 

With education on immigration 

we can be a caring nation 


and just STOP Arizonification. 


ODE TO BARBARA LEE, at A Brand New Day 


Barbara Lee speaks for WE 

in the LGBT community. 

She went to Mills College and to U.C. 

where she triumphed over poverty. 

She worked real hard in Dellums day 

and learned the skills she uses today. 


She moved to the State Assem-bl-y 

to fight for you and me and equality. 

Now in Congress, Barbara speaks for me 

in books and papers and on TV. 

She supports the bills that you want to see 

and opposes ones that hurt you and me. 


She supports an ENDA that includes the T 

and letting us serve in the mil-i-tary. 

George Bush giving in, was a sight to see 

when she won money to fight AIDS internationally. 

She's a founding member, you'll be glad to see 

of the Congress Caucus for LGBT equality. 


Now i never graduated with a PH.D 

in english language or poetry 

but I do know Barbara is the EPITOME 

of the American Dream, successfully, 

working for us ALL inclusively. 

She's an honorary member of our family. 





The economy's not great 

by the hand of fate 

on this sad date 

but it's time to NEGOTIATE. 


I do not exaggerate 

the time is late 

Let me simply state 

it's time to NEGOTIATE. 


We must educate 

we must pressure the state 

but we can not wait 

it's time to NEGOTIATE.