I curate The Poet by Day, and am a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. The Poet by Day [jamiededes.com] is 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. I am also the founding editor of "The BeZine" and manage all associated activities. Email: email@example.com
This one is dedicated to those many who continue to create in the face of sometimes dramatic physical health issues and disabilities. Be as well as you can be. You are valued.
There are two videos included here. If you are reading this post from an email subscription, it’s likely that you’ll have to link through to the site to view the videos. They’re both worth the time and effort.
The Spoon Theory (see video above) is a clear and vivid way of explaining what it is like to live with any chronic, catastrophic and potentially life-threatening illness. I suspect that it also explains what life is like for those who have lived long enough to be described as “elderly.” Understanding The Spoon Theory gifts us with compassion for ourselves and patience with how long it takes to get even the smallest tasks done.
The first step in living successfully with catastrophic illness and advanced aging is to recognize (acknowledge/understand) the ramifications in terms of everyday life and its details. The Spoon Theoryhelps with that.
The second step is acceptance. That’s about letting go of your story. It’s about not being defined by the circumstances of your life. It’s about living with not struggling against. This requires something much more profound than positive thinking, which tends toward the superficial.
Letting go of our stories means letting go of judgement and attachment and a sense of victimization, which are the root causes of many of our very human pathologies. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote of this my-story mentality as “striving, disappointment, and boredom” or a life that is devoid of Spirit. Songwriters, who often make their living by stoking the “pain body” or the residue of emotional pain that stays with us [Eckhart Tolle], call this the IFD disease – idealization, frustration (the ideal cannot be achieved) and demoralization.
The third step in the journey is to adapt, a business of the heart. Adapting is not about giving up. It’s about finding our core of joy and gratitude and no one reminds of joy and gratitude better than the beloved Benedictine monk, Brother David Stendl-Rast (video below), who combines the wisdom of traditional Christianity with pragmatism of Buddhism.
No guilt. No judgement. Just joy. With understanding, self-compassion, patience and acceptance, we can still produce as so many of us do … and maybe, instead of beating ourselves up over what didn’t get done each day, we’ll be able to pat ourselves on the back for all we do accomplish. We cannot share The Spoon Theory with everyone. Many people will not understand our challenges. All that matters is that we do and that we support one another.
Thanks to the support of my world-class son and a stellar medical team, I’ve lived for about two decades past my original medically predicted expiration date. Every year or so I feel compelled to get on my soap box – though the topic is off-theme for my poetry site, The Poet by Day – about lung disease, its increasing prevalence, and its debilitating effects. This post was originally written in 2016 for The Poet by Day. At that time, I needed oxygen for activity only and carried a small tank or two in a backpack as above. As expected, over time the disease progressed and years of insufficient oxygen resulted in other complications: pulmonary hypertension and right-sided heart-failure. These are further complicated by a rare blood cancer (not curable but managed). These complications result in my being home-bound and often bed-bound for days.
I am now on high-flow oxygen (15 liters) 24/7 and am attached to two linked stationary oxygen concentrators at home and have large portable tanks for doctor visits and to get around the senior housing facility that is my home. These are moved around with specially-designed carts. My son must come with me to doctor appointments because it takes four tanks per trip, which is too much for me to handle on my own.
At the time in our history when we started to see nature as something apart from us, when we gave up our shamanic instincts and in our hubris separated them from our growing science, when we devolved from stewardship and one-with to ownership and power-over, we set ourselves up for a world of multifaceted pain and disruption. One result in modern times is environmentally induced disease caused by xenobiotic substances that result in cancers, autoimmune disorders, and interstitial lung diseases (ILDs).
My concern here – as a powerful and noteworthy example of the impact of industrial pollutants and of wars and other violence to the earth and its inhabitants – is interstitial lung disease. I have hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an ILD that can be caused by smoking. I am a lifelong non-smoker. Everyone – EVERYONE – is at risk of ILD, smokers or not, and so are other animals. We know that in the United States and England alone, the numbers suffering from ILD are growing. No matter where in the world we live and what we do for work, we all need to recognize and acknowledge this as part of the complex package of environmental injustices.
Our lungs are the only organs that are exposed and immediately vulnerable to industrial pollutants and inhaled chemicals, dust and other particulate matter in the air. One study tells us, “Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in humans worldwide. Environmental factors play an important role in the epidemiology of these cancers.”
Consider the two hundred ILDs: These are diseases that affect the tissue and space around the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs resulting in scaring (fibrosis). We – and other animals – can’t breath through scar tissue, which is not permeable. Hence the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen is inhibited. The result is a slow, horrifying and painful death by suffocation. This is mitigated for people like me who have access to healthcare, supplemental oxygen and medications like prednisone and mycophenolate mofetil and, when the time comes, palliative care and ultimately hospice. People living in poverty, in war-torn areas or working at risky occupations in third-world countries, get no such relief and no palliative care is available to them in the final stages. This is unimaginably cruel.
While the most common interstitial lung diseases are considered idiopathic, they can result from exposure to certain chemicals– including medications – and from secondhand smoke and occupational exposure to agents such as asbestos, silica, and coal dust. They may also evolve from an autoimmune reaction (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) to agents in the environment, some of which might be naturally occurring and benign for many people.
Forbes Magazine cites lung disease as one of the continuing legacies of 9/11, the result of “toxic collections of airplane fuel, asbestos, fiberglass, metal, plastic, garbage, waste materials, fecal material, human remains and who knows what else.” In reading this description, one can’t help but think also of the people of Syria and other regions of war and conflict. It is not uncommon for soldiers returning from war to report newly developed respiratory disorders.
Industry, war and conflict, greed and denial, all combine to put the very ground we live on at risk, the air we breath, and the precious functioning of our lungs … We rightly worry about and advocate for issues of deforestation, pollution, hunger, dislocation, destruction of property and other issues of environmental injustice. Not the least of our motivations, concerns and advocacy must be for the sake of our lungs. It’s a fight for the very breath that enlivens us.
“Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; It is the rust we value, not the gold.” – Alexander Pope
I come to this place of Elder Power through a cascade of chronic catastrophic illnesses and disabilities, which – like life – are ultimately fatal. Some have encouraged me to write from a clinical perspective. It would seem, however, that the clinical lessons have less significance than the life lessons. It is the life lessons that give us the strength to keep going, that are the true value to be shared, and that make us elders. To me “elder” implies more than “senior” or “senior citizen,” which I see as demographic terms for people who have reached retirement age. A senior is someone who has merely put in time, while elder is about attitude and state of mind. Elder implies one who is accomplished, who has learned a few things along the way.
As a poet, writer, and content editor, it is the life lessons, not the clinical ones, which inspire and inform my work. I have learned, for example, that all humans are in process and therefore imperfect; and that, no matter what our differences are, the most important thing is to remain open to communication and to accept and release our own follies and those of others. I have learned that neither illness nor threat of death preclude joy. I have learned that people who are joyful rarely do harm to themselves or others. I have learned that fear of death has to be directly addressed and then firmly put aside in favor of the business of living. As the saying goes: “It’s not over until it’s over.” Until then, we have responsibilities to others and ourselves. The only real difference between someone who has a life- threatening illness and someone who doesn’t is that the former is no longer in denial.
“If people bring so much courage to this world, “ wrote Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms, “the world has to kill them to break them. The world beaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very brave and the very gentle impartially. If you are none of these it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
I am not good, or brave, or particularly gentle. I do not – and never have – suffered fools kindly. Sometimes I let it all get me down. I descend into fear. I am impatient with process, with taking meds and going for seemingly endless tests and doctors’ appointments. Maybe that’s why I’ve outlived my original medically-predicted expiration date by some eighteen years. My mother used to say, “Only the good die young.” My best quality may be that under my protective shell of intractability, I actually am willing to be broken and reformed. I suppose only time will tell if I have grown “strong at the broken places.”
So, here I stand, twenty-odd years into it, hugging my 70s at the dawn of a bright new day in a body that is now dramatically disabled and quite a bit older. It’s still a good morning and a good body. I recognize I once dealt with a worse handicap than my current disabilities. That handicap is commonly referred to as “youth.” I survived. Maturity on the other hand is a true boon, a gift to savor and enjoy with layers of luxurious nuance I had not anticipated. I do not long for my youth. I love my graying hair. I love my wrinkles and the loose skin on my neck. I love the mild deformity of my feet. These things remind me that I am still here after all. It’s unlikely that I’ll dye my hair, though I have. I will not get chemical injections or cosmetic surgery. I will not use rejuvenating grooming products that have been tested on defenseless animals. I am inspired by civil-rights-era African-Americans who sported Afros, said essentially “this is who we are and what we look like,” and chanted “black is beautiful.” I am graying. I am wrinkled. It’s all lovely and lyrical and makes me smile. It’s about ripeness, not rottenness. It’s honesty: what you see is what you get. Aging is beautiful. With maturity, one finds character refined and perspective broadened, energy expands and compassion flowers. The experience of joy comes more easily.
As survivors, we owe it to those who have gone on to live in gratitude for this gift of a long life. How ungrateful and what an insult it is to them for us to bemoan our maturity and yearn for our youth as we so often do. What an incredible waste of time and energy such yearning is. Many don’t survive childhood in their impoverished and war-torn areas. Some others don’t survive childhood due to congenital or other diseases. My sister died by her own hand when she was twenty-seven. I have a wonderful, talented, smart friend in her mid-thirties who will pass within three months from this writing. Like you, I have relatives and friends who didn’t make it to fifty, much less sixty or seventy. All things considered, aging is a gift not a curse.
“People worldwide are living longer. Today, for the first time in history, most people can expect to live into their sixties and beyond. By 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to total 2 billion, up from 900 million in 2015. Today, 125 million people are aged 80 years or older. By 2050, there will be almost this many (120 million) living in China alone, and 434 million people in this age group worldwide. By 2050, 80% of all older people will live in low- and middle-income countries.” World Health Organization MORE
Some of our power comes from our sheer numbers. According to the World Health Organization, 900 million of us were aged sixty or more in 2015 and as of 2018 125 million of us were aged over eighty. We represent a huge political constituency, a lucrative market, and an enormous fount of energy, experience, and expertise. If that isn’t power in this modern world, what is? What a force for peace we could be.
Some of our power comes from consciousness. We are awake now. We have learned how to live in the moment and how to live joyfully, hugely. That alone is a lesson to share. Some of our power comes from more time and focus. Many of us are retired or semi- retired or on disability, or soon will be. Implicit in that is the time to keep abreast of issues in our communities, countries, and our world. We can take the time and make the effort to get accurate information, to analyze carefully, and to share appropriately; that is, in a well considered, non-inflammatory, non-sensational manner. We can act with grit and grace.
Let the elders among us be the Global Movement of Strength in Broken Places. Let those of us who have this gift of long life seize on it and ply our elder power individually and in concert. Let’s live with joy, do good, and have fun. Most of all let us be generous with our love. Soon enough, when the time is ripe, our bodies will become earth once more. Our spirits will travel on but the river of mortal life will continue to flow. Our children will see us reflected in the eyes of their children. Our grandchildren will strain to hear our voices in rustling leaves and breezes that whisper to them in the night. They will seek us out in moonlight and the warmth of the sun, in the roar of the oceans and the gentle meandering of a lazy brook. They will find us in the hearts of the lives we’ve touched with concern and compassion.
“My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn’t accessible.” Stella Young, was an Australian comedian, journalist and disability rights activist. She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta and used a wheelchair for most of her life. When she was fourteen she audited the accessibility of the main street businesses of her hometown.
Throughout the month of February 2020 The BeZine blog is featuring a range of material on illness and disability in concert with Kella Hanna-Wayne’s YOPP!, a social justice blog dedicated to civil rights education, elevating voices of marginalized people and reducing oppression. Our intention in doing this is to give voice to those with illness and disabilities, to raise awareness of the issues and outcomes, and to offer workable alternatives for those who have to manage in environments that are not conducive to inclusion.
We’ve already had some question with regard to terminology: disabled v. differently abled. We respect each contributor’s chosen terminology, which will be reflected in their posts.
Kella and I are disabled and we both prefer that term over differently-abled. Here are my reasons:
There are things I – like many others – am absolutely unable to do. Period. End of story.
“Differently abled” is inherently meaningless in this context. All human beings are differently abled. Some are better at music, for example, and others are better at accounting.
Almost everyone has some degree of disability, especially as aging progresses. If you wear glasses, you are disabled and, depending on your occupation or interests, you might be unable to function without glasses.
A reference to anyone as a “differently-abled” individual, is a cruel euphemism. In my own case, for example, it diminishes the reality of my 24/7 life, which involves being on high-flow oxygen, being unable to lift anything heavy, being restricted to certain living conditions, often being restricted to bed, dealing with chronic bleeding due to a rare blood cancer, and living with extreme fatigue.
“Differently abled” implies a norm that does not exist. There is no one way to feel, to communicate, to educate oneself, or to ponder and create art. The implication is that anything that deviates from the fantasy norm is less than ideal, possibly even somehow wrong.
“Disabled” is not a disparagement. It’s truth. It’s accurate. Implicit is an acknowledgement that there are productivity and quality-of-life challenges that have everything to do with social, political, and cultural assumptions and structures and nothing to do with any one person’s atypical body or mind.
Finally, “differently-abled” is a stigmata that ignores the kinds of accommodations (including some life-changing technologies) that could be made available to help those many with atypical bodies and minds to lead fuller, richer lives and to contribute their energy and talent to help others and their communities.
This is the short story, the down and dirty of it. Input is welcome from readers and we hope that you will enjoy and benefit from contributors’ posts throughout the month. We are still open for submissions to the February blog-post series on illness and disability and for submissions to the March 15 issue of the Zine, themed “Waging Peace.” Submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the spirit of love (respect) and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines, Jamie Dedes
The BeZine, Managing Editor
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.