I am a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage "The BeZine" thebezine.com and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for permissions, commissions, or assignments.
The shape of the dreamcatcher is a circle because it represents the circle of life and how forces like the sun and moon travel each day and night across the sky. The dreamcatcher web catches the bad dreams during the night.
The night air is filled with good and bad dreams. The legend of the dreamcatcher is that it captures the bad spirits and filters them in so protecting us from evil and letting through only the good dreams. It is believed that each carefully woven web will catch bad spirit dreams in the web and disappear by perishing with the first light of the morning sun.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Elie Wiesel
Toward the end of June this year I was introduced to Kella Hanna-Wayne’s (Yopp) work via a Facebook link shared by my colleague here at The BeZine, Contributing Editor Michael Dickel, which he in turn received from his daughter. I subsequently included info on Kella and her post HERE. That’s the way the world moves these days. Though technology and social networking are mixed blessings in some respects, they’re effective tools for people like Kella and I who have work to which we are committed but deal everyday with serious physical disabilities that constrain (in my case prohibit) activity outside the home.
The link of which I speak was to a post in which Kella provided some well-considered guidelines and resources for protesting the migrant travesties on the U.S. Southern Border. As I investigated Kella’s site, I was impressed with her thoroughness and clarity. I wrote to her about doing an interview on for our activist poets, writers, and friends. She agreed. Here it is. Read on. / Managing Editor, Jamie Dedes
JAMIE: Kella, you have taken on such a range of causes, all of them important, critical. Not everyone can do that. I hear people talk about “compassion burnout,” which is understandable but irritating. It’s a luxury oppressed people don’t have. I usually respond with “pick a cause. Pick one cause and focus on that.” What’s your advice?
KELLA: I think all of us, including activists, can agree that social justice is simply overwhelming. There are so many causes, there’s so much to learn about every cause, and to make things even more complicated, the needs of each cause are constantly progressing and changing. It’s a lot to keep up with.
But one of the fundamental ideas behind my blog is that there are a basic set of guidelines that you can follow that will help you understand any source of oppression. Instead of learning about male privilege, and then white privilege, and then financial privilege, why not learn how the concept of privilege works so that you can apply it to any new cause you learn about? There are so many challenges marginalized groups face that they have in common with one another: microaggressions, oppressive language, policing of their emotions/bodies, even difficulty accessing medical care. I think that if you learn the functionality of the oppressive systems that are at work and all the basic components of social justice, it enables you to support these groups of people much more effectively and thoroughly than if you were trying to learn one cause at a time from scratch.
I also think that even if you do choose to focus primarily on one cause, it’s important to be aware of the basics of the other ones because social justice issues are all inextricably connected to each other and ignoring the way intersectionality impacts the problems that we’re tackling tends to leave holes in our solutions.
JAMIE:What then are the steps activists can take to minimize burnout?
KELLA: No matter how narrow your focus, social justice issues are far bigger than any one person can solve. Because activism has to be a collective effort, I think it’s really important to recognize that completely fixing the problem is an impossible standard to hold yourself to. You are one piece in a much larger effort to create change. Even when you are focusing on what is within your personal power, you have to be realistic about what you can actually accomplish. If there are 20 different tasks that you could do as an activist and each one is individually within your ability to do, it’s likely doing all 20 of them is not. You have to choose what it is that you are going to do.
To make that choice, I recommend focusing on forms of activism that…
Are sustainable so that you can continue to do them over time
Are empowering to you so that you feel motivated to continue
Aren’t deeply upsetting or draining in such a way that the cost of the task is greater than the positive impact the action has
Feel right to you.
Which forms of activism meet those criteria is going to be different for everyone. For example, I believe that calling your representatives is an effective way to impact the future of our country but I find making phone calls incredibly anxiety-inducing and I have to spend a lot of energy to get myself to make one. That’s not a good use of my resources. On the other hand, writing comes easily to me, I find it rewarding, and it’s something that a lot of other people can’t contribute. I can accomplish way more by writing on behalf of activism than I could if I were using the same amount of resources to make phone calls. Whenever I feel the push to do more for a cause, I re-center on the importance of my writing and how much I’m offering in the work I already do.
A philosophy I carry around with me wherever I go is that everyone has something of value to offer. You have to find what your offering is.
JAMIE: Tell us about Yopp Academy.
KELLA: Yopp Academy is a section of my blog that focuses on educational material. It’s where I’m outlining that basic set of social justice guidelines I mentioned earlier.
To distinguish the amount of prior knowledge that’s needed to understand a given article, I used a college-style course numbering system, so articles are sorted into 100 level, 200 level, 300 level, etc. If you’re brand new to social justice, you start with the 100 level articles and work your way up. It really does function like a set of college courses in that articles of higher levels directly reference ideas from the level 100 articles, so the more of them you read together, the better your understanding will be of the subject as a whole.
The articles I have published currently only go up to level 300 because I’ve been putting my focus on establishing all the basic concepts before adding more advanced stuff. I’m currently working on a lesson plan of over 40 educational articles to serve as a foundation of knowledge which you can use regardless of your level of involvement with activism, which will include higher-level articles in the future.
JAMIE:Tell us about your Facebook debates.
KELLA: I’ve always had a lot of friends on facebook who are into social justice and some of them have such large friends list that anytime they posted something controversial, it would spark a discussion/debate. I started jumping into these discussions and offering my opinion and I got a reputation for being good at explaining basic social justice concepts to people who weren’t familiar with them and for clearly outlining the problems in someone else’s argument.
I used Facebook debates to practice my writing, increase my own understanding of social justice, it introduced me to a bunch of other amazing people that cared about the same things, and because managing my disability/mental illnesses made traditional activism prohibitive, it gave me a way to be involved in causes I cared about. Spending so much time arguing with people who I disagreed with also gave me a lot of insight into the places people were most likely to have holes in their understanding of our social systems which in turn has really informed the content and the structure of my blog. I often say the reason I started a blog in the first place was that I got tired of writing out the same explanations/arguments over and over again, and just wanted to write out the article once to link to every time I came across the same issue again.
I know I differ from a lot of people in that I believe debates on social media, even the “unproductive” ones, are an important branch of activism. Not only do they spread information to larger audiences of people (while only 10 people might be commenting, 1,000 could be reading the comments) but they serve as a means of socializing bigots to understand that their bigotry will be met with hassle and frustration rather than easy acceptance like they’re used to. I think that practice has a lot more power than people think it does.
JAMIE: So many people – like you and me – live with chronic, even catastrophic, illness. What can these illnesses teach us about social justice and advocacy?
KELLA: If you hold a conference for activism regarding chronic illness but you organize it in a similar way that you would any other business conference, your collection of speakers, organizers, and attendants are likely to be mostly healthy people rather than chronically ill people. If it’s energy-intensive to leave your house/travel, if you need frequent breaks or a special housing set up, if you have extensive food restrictions or you need to hire a carer to accompany you, it’s going to be very difficult, resource costly, and risky to go to a conference that healthy people can attend with ease. Even in attempting to center the chronically ill, if you organize from the perspective of a healthy person, you will leave chronically ill out of their own activism. That’s because the default systems that we have in place for most aspects of society make it very difficult for chronically ill people to participate let alone succeed.
Anytime you design a solution for the social issues chronically ill people face, you have to start by adapting your mindset and prioritizing accommodation of an experience that you’re not familiar with, or you’ll fail at your advocacy from the beginning.
And this idea is not at all exclusive to chronic illness. You see the same problem with white people organizing on behalf of people of color, cis people organizing for trans people, abled people organizing for disabled people, etc. You have to go in understanding that in order for your advocacy to be successful, you have to dismantle the relevant oppressive systems that are within your scope of power and create new systems, a new foundation before you attempt to build any kind of structure on top.
JAMIE: Your site is about eighteen months old as we work on this post. What are the goals for the next couple of years?
KELLA: I’m still very much working out what my ideal version of Yopp would be or what I want it to accomplish but so far, my concrete plans are:
Switch over to a new, more modern and accessible website
Finish writing the basic building blocks for Yopp Academy (all 40 of them!!)
Build up my Patreon supporter base– my first goal is $800 a month
Acquire enough sponsorships that I can publish up to 4 times a month
KELLA HANNA-WAYNE (Yopp) is a disabled, chronically/mentally ill freelance writer who is the editor, publisher, and main writer for Yopp, a social justice blog dedicated to civil rights education, elevating voices of marginalized people, and reducing oppression; and for GlutenFreeNom.Com, a resource for learning the basics of gluten-free cooking and baking. Her work has been published in Ms. Magazine blog, Multiamory, Architrave Press and is forthcoming in a chapter of the book Twice Exceptional (2e) Beyond Learning Disabilities: Gifted Persons with Physical Disabilities. For fun, Kella organizes and DJ’s an argentine tango dancing event, bakes gluten-free masterpieces, sings loudly along with pop music, and makes cat noises. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Patreon, Medium, and Instagram.
“This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear.
“We acknowledge that there are enormous theological differences and historical resentments that carve wedges among and within the traditions and ethnic or national groups, but we believe that ultimately self-preservation, common sense, and human solidarity will empower connections and collaboration and overcome division and disorder.” excerpt from The BeZine Mission Statement
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR
Our Annual 100,000 Poets and Friends for Change Issue
Calls for submissions of poems, feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, art and photography, music videos, and documentary videos on the themes of peace, sustainability and social justice is open now through September 10, 2019.
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY: Note we also are looking for something special to be the header for The Table of Contents Page.
Your original previously published work may be submitted as long as you own the copyright.
NO simultaneous submissions for September please.
Email submissions to email@example.com. Please note in your subject line: For Zine September 2019.
Among the guidelines: our core team, our guest contributors, and our readership are international and diverse. No works that advocate hate or violence, promote misunderstanding, or that demean others are acceptable.
The BeZineis an entirely volunteer effort. While we do not pay for content, neither do we charge submission or subscription fees.
IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE GLOBAL YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE
CALLING YOUTH & ADULTS
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS of poems, feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, art and photography, music videos, documentary videos on climate change for The BeZine blog is open through September 10, 2019. In solidarity with the world’s youth, we’ll post work on Climate Change throughout September. Your original previously published work may be submitted as long as you own the copyright. NO simultaneous submissions. Please note in your subject line: For the climate change blog. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All honors to Contributing Editor Michael Dickel for coming up with this idea.
THE BACK STORY:
100 Thousand Poets for Change, or 100TPC.org, is an international grassroots educational organization focusing on the arts, especially poetry, music, and the literary arts. It was founded in 2011 by poet/artist/musician Michael Rothenberg and poet/translator/artist Terri Carrion, and focuses on a worldwide event each September.
This initiative crossed my radar in 2011 when it was founded. I fell in love with the idea of it, the world in solidarity for peace, sustainability and social justice. What could be more wonderful? Since I am disabled and homebound I couldn’t host an event or even attend one. I decided that there were probably others who would like to participate but for one reason or another could not do so. Thus, The BeZine Virtual 100,000 Poets and Others for Change was born. This makes it possible for anyone, no matter where they live or what their circumstance, to join in 100TPC as long as they have access to a computer. People can do a local or regional event and join with our virtual event as well should they care to do so.
About two years after we started doing Virtual 100TPC, I “met” Michael Dickel and invited him to join The Bardo Group Beguines, our core team, and he soon volunteered to be our virtual 100TPC master of ceremonies. This has become one of our more delightful yearly traditions. Michael will also take the lead on the September issue of the Zine, which honors 100TPC themes.
On Saturday, September 28, you are invited to visit The BeZine Blog and share your work on Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice via Mr. Linky or in the Comments section. Clear and detailed direction will be provided that day, but truly it’s an easy thing. You will, of course, also be able to read the work of others, which we hope you will do. Michael and I will keep the event going for 24 hours or so beginning at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time on September 28. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of love (respect) and community, Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor
“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come.” Wangari Maathai
We are awash in righteous – and not so righteous – concerns and obsessions: race-and-gender-based inequities, war, greed, hunger, religious and ideological differences, displacement and migration, and leadership that is too often vapid, ignorant and unspeakably cruel. We think of the times as being dark and suffocating, light obscured by dense and low-hanging clouds, but maybe – just maybe – there is a ray of sunshine, a breath of fresh air. And maybe, just maybe, that’s all we need. Let’s take that sliver of light, that breath of fresh air, and build a future. This is a battle for the world in which our children will grow old and our grandchildren will grow up.
Perhaps, Wangari Maathai (1940-2011), Kenyan social, environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, is right. The solutions are all of a piece: in the process of addressing our most immediate and pressing concern, the concern that is universal, environmental sustainability, we will mitigate hunger, migration, war, division, and greed. SustainABILITY requires that we work together. We’re not talking Utopia here. We’re talking collaboration and compromise, imperfect but functional.
SustainABILITY is rooted in the People (that would be you and me) who pull together to successfully tackle environmental concerns as the people have in efforts like Wangari’s Green Belt Movement in Africa, the tree-planting and intensive agriculture programs in China (including China’s Three North Shelter Forest Program) and in India.
“A tree has roots in the soil yet reaches to the sky. It tells us that in order to aspire we need to be grounded and that no matter how high we go it is from our roots that we draw sustenance. It is a reminder . . . that we cannot forget where we came from . . . our power and strength and our ability to reach our goals depend on the people, those whose work remains unseen, who are the soil out of which we grow, the shoulders on which we stand.” Wangari Maathai
This quarter we bring you work by talented, responsible, inspired, and sometimes discouraged artists. We also bring you fact-based hope, proven ideals and ideas, and a fair number of resources.
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
and in the spirit of love (respect) and community, Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to read this issue of THE BeZINE: You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents or you can click HERE and scroll through the entire Zine.
“The planting of a tree, especially one of the long-living hardwood trees, is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the tree takes root it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.” George Orwell
“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.” Cormac McCarthy, The Road
“My mother: She is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.” Judi Picoult
Dedicated to moms everywhere and in every time
I live in the United States where we traditionally celebrate Mothers’ Day in May, but the acknowledgment of mothers, mothering, and maternal bonds is not unique to this time and place. Simply put, Mothers’ Day in the U.S. reminds me to do something special and always this recognition includes all those fathers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, older siblings and family friends … sometimes even teachers or neighbors … who fulfill the role of mother for those children who have lost theirs.
Truth to tell, this is an accidental edition of The BeZine, totally spontaneous. I asked our core team if anyone had mom material at the ready. I was thinking in terms of one or two blog posts. Some did and, as though my mind was read, a couple of writers coincidentally contacted me asking if I would publish a poem they’d written for their mother or for Mothers’ Day. Why not? I put out a call to a few other gracious people and voilà! … an unexpected delight.
These are largely poems of love and gratitude (grab a hankie) including a sweet and well-written poem from Kennedy Stewart, our youngest contributor yet. Please enjoy this charming and thoughtful compilation and forgive me for making a quick and casual job of it.
Thanks to all our devoted, generous, and prescient contributors.
LAURA MINNING (BRC Art & Poetry) began writing creatively at the age of nine. She’s become an award-winning published poet and author since that time. All in all, she’s had one-hundred and nine individual poems, six articles, four books, three short plays and one piece of prose published both in hard copy and on-line. Her work has been featured in publications like “Literature Today”, “Amulet” and “Slate and Style”.
Laura received her first Editor’s Choice Award in 1993 for “bronx zoo” and her first International Merritt of Poetry Award in 1995 for “introspection” by the National Library of Poetry. Poetry.com recognized her work a decade later by granting her the title of International Poet of the Year.
Laura’s artistic accomplishments have been equally impressive. She’s had one-hundred and three original pieces exhibited and fifty-six images published. Her work has been displayed at venues like the VMFA Studio School, Trenton Free Public Library and Barcode.
The Barcode exhibit featured thirty-six pieces of Laura’s artwork during the month of February in 2016. Four pieces were sold over the course of opening weekend, and the exhibition was sponsored by Bacardi.
As a person with low vision and blindness, Laura hopes to inspire other creative people to never allow anything to hinder them from reaching for the stars and accomplishing their dreams If you were to ask her about her creative successes, she would tell you that the difficult is but the work of the moment, and the impossible takes a little longer.
All the stars and planets were aligned…Just after the election I had a birthday, which I share with my binary brother, Lewis. In sixty years, we’ve never spent a birthday apart. Like so many of us, he was shocked, saddened, crushed by the election results. There was only one thing to do. We played space age hooky, beamed him out of the office and transported ourselves to the Seattle Center.
Specifically, to the EMP, which is celebrating 50 years of Star Trek.
I hardly remember life before Star Trek. And talk about The Next Generation! My children absorbed Star Trek by osmosis in utero. As I ascended the stairs to the EMP tribute, the Star Trek theme song elicited a visceral response that only gets stronger as I get older. I’ve lived long enough now to see many of these stories played out on my planet in real time.
My apologies to Sonja and to readers. This poem was scheduled to appear in the March 2019 issue of the Zine, themed Waging Peace. Somehow it dropped out of the line-up. It’s an excellent poem and I know you’ll find yourself touched. / J.D.
“May there be peace in the heavens, peace in the atmosphere, peace on the earth. Let there be coolness in the water, healing in the herbs and peace radiating from the trees. Let there be harmony in the planets and in the stars, and perfection in eternal knowledge. May everything in the universe be at peace. Let peace pervade everywhere, at all times. May I experience that peace within my own heart.” Yajur Veda 36.17)
At The BeZine when we discuss Waging Peace, we mean radical peace. We mean putting down weapons and using words. We are realists. We don’t envision a utopia. We do envision compromise, an imperfect peace but peace non-the-less.
Some of our contributors rightfully see Waging Peace as a path that starts with inner peace. Others were moved to bear witness, to raise consciousness, or to imagine a world at peace and some are inspired to suggest potential solutions.
It’s quite a package we gift you with today from poets and writers representing several of the world’s wisdom traditions and about ten countries including those of the U.K., Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, and the U.S.. Soul stirring. Thought provoking. Satisfying.
Thanks to all our contributors, to our core team members, and to the readers who are an important part of this effort. Please read, “like”, and comment. You – and your thoughts – are valued.
On behalf of The Bardo Group Begines
and in the spirit of love (respect) and community, Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor
Submissions deadlinefor the March issue – themed Waging Peace – is March 10 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard.
Please send text in the body of the email not as an attachment.Send photographs or illustrations as attachments. No google docs or Dropbox or other such. No rich text.
Send submissions to email@example.com.
Publication is March 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos or essays), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration.
No demographic restrictions.
Please read at least one issue.
We DO NOT publish anything that promotes hate, divisiveness or violence or that is scornful or in any way dismissive of “other” peoples. No just-war pieces please.
The BeZine i s an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. It is not a paying market but neither does it charge submission or subscription fees.
Previously published work may be submitted IF you hold the copyright. Submissions from beginning and emerging artists as well as pro are encouraged and we have a special interest in getting more submissions of short stores, feature articles, music videos and art for consideration.
These big cats are called Puma, Cougar or Mountain Lion. They are solitary animals. Her power comes as she moves through the world unseen, taking only what she needs, and silently marking territory so conflicts won’t be necessary. She is a ghost of the woods just like your soul is.
When I lived in the mountains she had her den across the road and down hill a bit. Despite being practically on my doorstep I never, ever saw her. Just paw prints. I use ‘she’ because female seems appropriate.
“Would you be interested in going to Salerno, Italy for a 100 Thousand Poets for Change World Conference if we held another gathering at the end of May in 2020? 4 days, workshops, party, reception, tours, poetry readings, tour Pompeii, Amalfi boat cruise…” Michael Rothenberg, 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) cofounder
In June of 2015, poets and other artists from all over the globe gathered in Salerno, Italy for their first 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) World Conference organized by 100TPC Cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrión. Michael is putting out feelers to see how much interest there would be in a another gathering to be held in 2020. If this appeals to you, you can connect with Michael Rothenberg on Facebook HERE. Honestly, if I were able to travel, I’d be there faster than that fabled New York minute.
In 2015, I asked Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play) who attended the first conference to pull together a report for The BeZine. We’ve included it here. I think it might help you get a better idea of what to expect. The report is below the following info on Michael Rothenberg, Terri Carrión, and 100TPC.
Michael Rothenberg is an American poet, songwriter, editor, and active environmentalist. Born inMiami Beach, Florida, Rothenberg received his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Afterward, he moved to California in 1976, where he began “Shelldance Orchid Gardens”, an orchid and bromeliad nursery. In 2016, Rothenberg moved to Tallahassee, Florida. In 1993 he received his MA in Poetics at New College of California. In 1989, Rothenberg and artist Nancy Davis began Big Bridge Press, a fine print literary press, publishing works by Jim Harrison, Joanne Kyger, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen and others. Rothenberg is editor of Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry. Rothenberg is also co-editor and co-founder of Jack Magazine.
Terri Carrión earned her MFA at Florida International University in Miami, where she taught Freshman English and Creative Writing, edited and designed the graduate literary magazine Gulfstream, taught poetry to High School docents at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami and started a reading series at the local Luna Star Café. In her final semester at FIU, she was Program Director for the Study Abroad Program, Creative Writing in Dublin, Ireland.poetry, fiction, non-fiction and photography has been published in many print magazines as well as online, including The Cream City Review, Hanging Loose, Pearl, Penumbra, Exquisite Corpse, Mangrove, Kick Ass Review, Exquisite Corpse, Jack, Mipoesia, Dead Drunk Dublin, and Physik Garden among others, including the recent anthology, Continent of Light. Her chapbook “Lazy Tongue” was published by D Press in the summer of 2007. A collaborative poem with Michael Rothenberg, “Cartographic Anomaly” was published in the anthology, Saints of Hysteria, A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry. Her most recent project is a collaboration with F.R Lavandeira and Loreto Riveiro on a trilingual Galician Anthology, (from Galician to Spanish to English)
“100 Thousand Poets for Change, or 100TPC, is an international grassroots educational organization focusing on the arts, especially poetry, music, and the literary arts. It was founded in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, and focuses on a worldwide event each September.” Wikipedia MORE
MICHAEL DICKEL’S REPORT ON THE 2015 CONFERENCE
Salerno, il mio amore
June 3, 2015, the afternoon after I arrived in Salerno, Italy, I found my way up to the Santa Sofia Complex, an old church on a square with a fountain.The first 100-Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) World Conference would begin with an opening reception in the evening. In the complex, I met Terri Carrion, one of the co-founders of 100TPC and co-organizer of the conference. She told me that her partner, Michael Rothenberg, was around the corner at a cafe meeting one of the writers who had just arrived from Macedonia.
After helping Terri and Valeriano Forté, a Salerno poet and 100TPC organizer, assemble some tables in our meeting room, I wandered down to the cafe. Several poets gathered at tables in excited conversation. Michael was with Mitko Gogov, the poet from Macedonia. Others were from the U.S., Mexico, Hungary, Germany (via the U.S. and Rome), Greece, Malaysia, and France. And this was just the beginning. All of the people at the cafe then I now count among new-found friends, along with many more that I met during the following week.
Imagine, if you can, more than 80 poets from all over the world—every continent, 33 countries. Imagine poets from every generation, spoken-word artists, poets with books or no book, all come together to share the spirit of poet-activists, as 100TPC organizers. Now imagine us all talking about poetry, about arts and activism, women’s issues, oral versus print traditions, and organizing—with interpreters translating into Italian and English. That’s how our four conference days were (mostly) spent.
Those were scheduled topics. Another one came up—artists’ international mobility. Several poets had their visa requests turned down by their home countries or Italy. So we rejoiced when three poets from Egypt finally received their visas at the last minute and arrived during the conference. Some who could not make it joined us virtually by posting to social media. For the next conference, we plan to be more prepared for this issue, and to have both advice and, if we can raise them, funds to assist people.
The days tended to serious dialogue on sustainability, peace and justice. The evenings (and a couple of afternoons) overflowed with poetry. Each evening, several poets read as “scheduled” readers, usually after dinner. Then came the open mic—which ranged from raucous readings to a quiet “campfire” around candles to a poetry walk from the complex to the sea. The open mic that I co-hosted with a poet living in Malaysia and a Ghanian poet was in a restaurant, the last reading of the conference.
And what of Salerno? Salerno won our hearts—an old city with a castle overlooking it that once was ruled by a warrior-princess; the home of Alfonso Gatto, an Italian poet whose poetry appears in murals by contemporary artists all over the town via the Alfonso Gatto Foundation (a sponsor of the conference); a town nestled between mountains of alleyways, stone walls, beautiful squares and the sea; a song of bells, sea gulls, swallows; a haven for street artists and poets.
The night following the end of the conference, many of us still in Salerno took over most of a small restaurant around the corner from the Santa Sofia Complex. Not wanting to let go of our transformative week of amazing global poetry, we began an impromptu reading, some reading from books of others, some reading our own work. A couple from the town, not part of our conference, sat at one of the tables listening, and then the man asked if he might read some of his work in Neapolitan. He recited his work, then line by line he read the Italian with someone translating into English. Poets attract poets.
So, in two years, we plan to return. Writer-artist-activists reading this, perhaps you’d like to join us?
MICHAEL DICKEL a poet, fiction writer, and photographer, has taught at various colleges and universities in Israel and the United States. Dickel’s writing, art, and photographs appear in print and online. His poetry has won international awards and been translated into several languages. His chapbook, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism came out from Locofo Chaps in 2017. Is a Rose Press released his most recent full-length book (flash fiction), The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, in 2016. Previous books: War Surrounds Us, Midwest / Mid-East, and The World Behind It, Chaos…He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36(2010). He was managing editor for arc-23 and arc-24. With producer / director David Fisher, he received an NEH grant to write a film script about Yiddish theatre. He is the former chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. Meta/ Phor(e) /Play is Michael’s blogZine. Michael on Social Media: Twitter| FaceBook Page | Instagram | Academia
I love coyotes. Perhaps it is their inquisitiveness most of all that I adore. I walk with my dogs every day in the Guadalupe Oak Grove wildlife preserve. My day is perfect when I have a coyote sighting and especially perfect when they follow me on the walk. These coyotes are quite small compared to the Mountain coyotes, but coyotes they are indeed. Makes me feel like I am running with wolves. Being with wild animals invokes the Cherokee prayer above. The wild things teach me stillness They take me to the depths inside myself where stillness abides. I am rejuvenated with great love. So, you see, coyote is truly my sensei, my teacher when we gaze…
“We make our world with words! No one knows this truth better than the Poet, the wordsmith crafting perception of moments into bite sized pieces of sound—line, verse, phrase, sentence; meaning and its absence.” Longer Ago, Poems by Spoon Jackson, Feeling is a footpath to the heart of the world, RootfolksMORE
c Spoon Jackson / photo with family, friends, teachers
“I have found that prisons are created internally and are truly found everywhere.” Spoon Jackson (realness network)
In the interest of time, I’m sharing this from Wikipedia. The petition needs to go to the governor tomorrow, October 15. As this post goes up, there are only 1,651 signatures. 2,500 are needed. The petition is HERE. Please feel free to reblog this post.
“Spoon Jackson (Stanley “Spoon” Russell Jackson) was born August 22, 1957 in Barstow, California. He began serving a life without possibility…