Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, 100TPC, Artists and Activists for Change, General Interest, The BeZine

100TPC, 2017 / Stand with us now for Peace, Sustainability and Social Justice

This year, the last Saturday of September, the regular day for the Global 100,000 Poets for Change Events around the world, falls on Yom Kippur, considered the Holiest day of the Jewish religion. Observant Jews around the world are fasting, having spent the Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur asking the people in their lives for forgiveness and inventorying their transgressions against Creation. Today, we Jews go to synagogue and ask Creation (G-d) for forgiveness. Another name for Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.

First, the order matters: We ask the people in our lives for forgiveness. Then we think how we have acted against the World. Then and only then do we turn to G-d for forgiveness.

Second, saying sorry is not enough, in our tradition. It is a start. In the Jewish tradition, people must also act differently, that is, they must enact the apology with a change in how they are in the world.

Third, human purpose can be understood—in how I have been taught—as working toward Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is the repair or healing of Creation. While there is definitely a range of interpretations that could be made on what this healing entails, it certainly incorporates attention to the physical world as well as the spiritual. These two intertwine and interrelate in such a way as to be inseparable. Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace—and writing, the arts, music in service of activism for positive change—are very relevant issues to our human purpose, from this view.

And thus, on the Holiest Day of the Jewish Year, it is appropriate to work toward Tikkun Olam, asking G-d’s forgiveness for all we have done that harms our fellow humans, inventorying our own role, and moving forward with action that shows our genuine desire to change and make things right again.

And, further, as the spiritual and the physical are interrelated, so are all of the arts (literature, art, music, dance, stage, film…), so are all three of the themes: Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace.

So this year, on Yom Kippur, we ask you to join in with your contributions from any of the arts—share your efforts toward healing and repair of our World. As you do, remember this, paraphrased from the sages:

Do not despair at the iniquity and injustice of the world in which we live. For today, that is, in this period where injustice, racism, and greed seem to have risen to power, do not give up or give in.

It is not up to us to complete the work of Tikkun Olam, but this does not free us from working toward the healing and repair of Creation. That is, although we may not achieve our goals of a just, sustainable and peaceful world in our lifetime, we must continue to make progress, and in working toward them, the healing of Creation will occur, one poem, one essay, one novel, one painting, one sculpture, one song, one symphony, one performance at at a time…

By action, not words alone, will this be done. If ever there was a time when this action is more needed than others, certainly now is one—Resistance! Activism! Peace! Sustainability! Social Justice!

Instructions for how to participate follow below.

—Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor


Thanks to Jamie Dedes for getting our virtual 100TPC underway. Travel issues left me in the lurch. My apologies. May this introduction partially atone for my tardiness in getting the event going! Instruction on how to participate in today’s event are included below:



“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a [woman or] man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy South Africa, 1966

Today under the banner of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) people the world over are gathered to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Here is a sampling of the posters announcing these gatherings.They give you a small idea of how far-reaching this annual global event is and for which we have the work and vision of  100TPC cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion to thank.

Think on this when you are tempted to lose all hope for our species. Remember that—not just today, but everyday—there are ripples and waves and tsunamis of faith and courage crossing borders in the form of poetry, stories, art, music, friendships and other acts of heroism. Hang tough. And do join with us—The Bardo Group Beguines—today to share your own creative work and to enjoy the work of others. All are welcome no matter where in the world you live.

 

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Meanwhile our 100TPC host, Michael Dickel, was caught somewhere between Israel and the American Midwest, so we got off to a late start. Michael will be around during the day today.  He did especially want you to have the link to the 100TPC Resist Wall, where you can post activist and resistance poetry today or any day.


POST YOUR WORK HERE TODAY

To share your poems, art, photography and music videos for our “live” virtual 100TPC today, please use MisterLinky for url links. Just click on the icon below.  You can also simply paste your complete work or the url into the comments section.  Remember the themes are peace, sustainability and social justice.


To read shared work see the comments section and click on Mister Linky. Enjoy!

On behalf of Michael and the rest of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,
Jamie Dedes
Managing Editor,
The BeZine

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change

100,000 Poets for Change Resistance Poetry Wall … post your poem on peace, sustainability, or social justice


100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) founders, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, have “built” a Resistance Poetry Wall in response to calls from all over the world for a place to post poetry and art in reaction to January’s election here in the U.S.

You do not have to limit your poetry to the situation in the States. You can share work that is relative to your country or your specific concerns. As Michael and Terri state:

The poetry and art posted on the WALL are not limited to the USA elections. There are many issues that concern us all and we welcome your contribution to this page.”

These efforts do have their place and power. So far 190 people have shared work on The Poetry Resistance Wall. I hope to see you there too.

– Jamie Dedes

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, 100TPC, General Interest

CALLING ALL POETS, WRITERS, ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS: We Need Your Most Passionate Work

We invite you to share your most passionate works expressing kindness and human connection and the ways that together we might heal the degradation and devastation of wars and genocides; the heartbreak of refugees living in limbo; the desolation of hunger and famine and environmental catastrophes; the insanity of extrajudicial murders; and the disappointing growth in the West of racial and religious tensions and efforts by various administrations to chill dissent.

Please take this opportunity to join hands and hearts in peace and love: TEAM WITH US for The BeZine 100TPC online “live” event this September 30th (our 6th year) to address peace, sustainability, and social justice through poetry, music (videos), art and anything artistic that can be posted online and accessed through a url link or by responding in the comments section of the event post. The BeZine 100TPC is one of hundreds of events that will be held around the world on September 30 under the rubric of Global 100TPC founded by poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion.


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.

100TPC is just one effort that illustrates the higher possibilities of the human heart.

Let us ply our art, meditations, and prayer toward that tipping point when compromise – an admittedly imperfect peace – will overcome war and respect for life will topple resentments and greed. That may not happen in our time, but it has to start somewhere and sometime. Together let this be our modest contribution toward an end for which diverse people the world over are working and praying.


HOW THE BeZINE “VIRTUAL” 100TPC WORKS … It’s easy and will be intuitively obvious, though we will provide instruction. A blog post will go up at The BeZine blog on September 30 with some introductory material and directions. As with any other blog post, you can respond by putting your poem or other work in the comments section. There will also be “Mister Linky” … a way to put in a link to relevant work on your site. It’s easy to use but if you don’t like it, you can just put your link in the comments section. That works!

American-Isreali Poet, Michael Dickel

American-Israeli poet,Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phore(e)/ Play), is an extraordinary – and at this point very experienced – Master of Ceremonies. He’ll maintain a rolling commentary in the comments section. I’ll be online to fill in for Michael when he takes a break and also to extend the length of the event.We’re in different time zones, though this year not half-a-day apart since he will be in the States. The idea is convenience and inclusively.

All types of artists and friends can participate no matter where they live in the world even if there is no event going on in their neighborhood and even if like me they are pretty much or completely home bound (which was the inspiration for the virtual event). You can participate in our virtual event even if you are at an off-line event. You can do both. We hope that you will not only share your artistry but also enjoy the artistry of others, which is what makes it like a live event. See you then … 🙂 We also hope that you’ll visit The BeZine to read our September edition, a prequel to the 100TPC event.

On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines (publishers of The BeZine) and in the spirit of love (respect) and community,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor
The BeZine

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, TheBeZine

AN INVITATION

14463159_558672104322694_2211120892025752443_nWe’ve almost put a wrap on 100TPC 2016 and we’re nearing the end of the year. It’s time to start thinking about possible themes:
* for 100TPC 2017 and
* for the monthly themes used for The BeZine.
You are invited to suggest themes of global significance and having to do with sustainability, social justice and peace. Leave your suggestions in comments below. The core team will review them and make final decisions. Thank you for your participation, support and interest in making this a kinder world through the connections, information and concerns shared here. This is an interfaith multicultural and multinational effort. We are sisters and brothers and citizens of the world. May peace prevail.

Posted in General Interest

IMPORTANT REMINDER

img_1061The gremlins (Priscilla Galasso, Steve and me) are busy behind the scenes, getting ready to bring you the September issue of “The BeZine,” which is focused on Environment/Environmental Justice as it is part of our 100TPC effort. Deadline is looming, so if it is your intention to submit, please send in your work on theme to bardogroup@gmail.com – today would be great as we are reading … let us know your status in the comments here. Thanks!

American-Isreali poet, Michael Dickel is master of ceremonies for our 100TPC, which will follow our September zine. The zine comes out on the 15th and 100TPC is on the 24th. You can get to know Michael HERE.

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Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, Jamie Dedes, Nature, poetry

the smell of wood, the scorch of fire … and a writing prompt to help you prepare for 100TPC

stumpsthis rough-barked sequoia stump, sitting in majesty
in its coastal home, victim of wildfire, burned down
to its gnarly roots, its nicks, holes and char, eons
of scars, life seemingly cut off, goddess snake alive
inside the concentric circles, the smell of wood and
scorch of fire, at the verge of our infinity, in its truth ~

pristine

rugged

pulsing

haunted by the geometry of limbs, the calculus of green,
the algebraic eloquence of a world within a world  ~

So present.

So essential.

So primal.

it sings to itself in the marrow of our bones

– Jamie Dedes

WRITING PROMPT

In preparation for The BeZine 100,000 Poets (and Friends) for Change

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016

Theme: Environment/Environmental Injustice

This poem was originally written in 2014 for Wilderness Week. There were then and are now a number of fires raging in the western United States. Wildfires are a natural occurrence but since the 1980s they’ve been increasing due to human-caused climate change. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists . . .

Wildfires in the western United States have been . . . occurring nearly four times more often, burning more than six times the land area, and lasting almost five times as long (comparisons are between 1970-1986 and 1986-2003) ….. many of the areas that have seen these increases—such as Yosemite National Park and the Northern Rockies—are protected from or relatively unaffected by human land-use and behaviors. This suggests that climate change is a major factor driving the increase in wildfires.” MORE

We tend to look at these fires in terms of the expense incurred fighting them and the cost of lives, homes, habitat, wild life and so forth. However, there’s one consideration we may tend to forget: Nature teaches us, comforts us, feeds us and is the ebb and flow of our spiritual and physical lives. The loss – the environmental injustice – is profound on more than a material level. This is what the smell of wood, the scorch of fire seeks to illustrate. “Nature” is who we are. Nature is us.

Write a poem or creative nonfiction piece on what the natural environment means to you and perhaps the sense of loss you feel as you note plants, animals, insects and wilderness that you’ve seen damaged or destroyed by climate, industry, overpopulation and whatever else has effected the area in which you live.

© 2014, poem, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reservedPhoto credit ~Bay Nature.org: “The Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, California, is dedicated to educating the people of the San Francisco Bay Area about, and celebrating the beauty of, the surrounding natural world. We do so with the aim of inspiring residents to explore and preserve the diverse and unique natural heritage of the region, and of nurturing productive relationships among the many organizations and individuals working towards these same goals.” Read more HERE.

You are invited to join The Bardo Group Beguines at The BeZine blog on Saturday, September 24 for 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change.  Below is a list of more features to provide you with information. We hope you’ll join us.

RELATED:

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, General Interest, justice, Michael Dickel, Peace & Justice, Poems/Poetry, Poets/Writers, Sustainability, The BeZine, Writing

100,000 Poets (and other artisits and friends) for Change, 2015: over 500 events scheduled around the globe

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These are busy days for Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion who founded 100,000 Poets for Change.  Michael announced yesterday that 500 events are now scheduled for September 26, 2015, the fifth anniversary of this global initiative for change; that is, for peace and sustainability.

For those who are just catching up with us100 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 is centered on a world-wide event each September. This past June the first World Conference on 100TPC was held in Salerno, Italy.

There are also several offshoots cropping up: 100,000 Photographers for Change, 100,000 Drummers for Change … and so on. A little searching on Facebook and you’ll find them, though the umbrella for all,  100TPC, does include a range of artistic specialties and friends of the arts and is not limited to poets and poetry.

We – that is The Bardo Group and Beguine Again, publishers of The BeZine are hosting a virtual event and you are all invited to attend and add links to your own relevent work.  The links will be collected and published in a Page on The BeZine site and also archived at 100TPC. Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) of The Bardo Group is the lead for this event. Michael is also the organizer of an event scheduled in Israel this October.  You can contact him via his blog or message him on Facebook if you have an interest in participating there.

Meanwhile, here is an introduction to the visionary founders of 100TPC, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion:

MICHAEL ROTHENBERG was born in Miami Beach, Florida in 1951, and has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 37 years. Currently Michael is living and creating among the redwoods.

Michael is co-founder of Shelldance Orchid Gardens in Pacifica, which is dedicated to the cultivation of orchids and bromeliads. He is a poet, painter, songwriter, and editor of Big Bridge Press and Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry and everything else.

In 2011 he and Terri Carrion co-founded the global poetry movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change. His songs have appeared in Hollywood Pictures’ Shadowhunter and Black Day, Blue Night, and most recently, TriStar Pictures’ Outside Ozona. Other songs have been recorded on CDs including: Bob Malone’s The Darkest Part of The Night (Caught Up in Christmas) and Bob Malone (Raydaddy’s Blues), Difficult Woman by Renee Geyer, Global Blues Deficit by Cody Palance, The Woodys by The Woodys, and Schell Game by Johnny Lee Schell.

Michael’s poetry books and broadsides are archived at the University of Francisco, and are held in the Special Collection libraries of Brown University, Claremont Colleges, University of Kansas, the New York Public Library, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, and UC-Santa Cruz.

His most recent collection of poems is Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story (Ekstasis Editions 2013) and Murder (Paper Press, 2013) My Youth As A Train published by Foothills Publishing in September 2010.

TERRI CARRION was conceived in Venezuela and born in New York to a Galician mother and Cuban father. She grew up in Los Angeles where she spent her youth skateboarding and slam-dancing.

Terri Carrion 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.

Her 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, Jack, Mipoesia, Dead Drunk Dublin, and Physik Garden among others.

Her collaborative poem with Michael Rothenberg, Cartographic Anomaly was published in the anthology, Saints of Hysteria, A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry and her chapbook Lazy Tongue was published by D Press in the summer of 2007.

Terri’s most recent projects includes collaborating on a trilingual Galician Anthology, (from Galician to Spanish to English) and co-editing an online selection of the bi-lingual anthology of Venezuelan women writers, Profiles of Night, both to appear in late August, on BigBridge.org., for which she is assistant editor and art designer. Currently, she is learning how to play the accordion. Terri Carrion lives under the redwoods and above the Russian River in Guerneville, Ca. with her partner in crime Michael Rothenberg, and her dogs Chiqui and Ziggy.

Posted in 000 Poets, 100, justice, Michael Dickel, Musicians, Peace & Justice, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Poets/Writers, TheBeZine, Writing

The Poet as Witness: “War Surrounds Us,” an interview with American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

Editors note: The theme for our September issue is poverty. It is part of our 100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) for Change event (change being peace and sustainability) to be held here as a virtual event on 26 September 2015. Michael Dickel takes the lead on this project and the September issue. Here’s an opportunity to get to know him better. Michael’s vision: “… hope must/ still remain with those who cross/ borders, ignore false lines and divisions/” is consistent with the mission of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group, publishers of The BeZine.  The September issue will post on the 15th. J.D.

5182N5cYeEL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_“That some of those labelled as enemies
have crossed the lines to offer condolences
at the mourning tents; that the mourning
families spoke to each other as parents
and cried on each others’ shoulders;
that we cried for the children who died
on both sides of the divide; that the
war began anyway; that hope must
still remain with those who cross
borders, ignore false lines and divisions;
that children should be allowed to live;
that we must cry for all children who die”

– Michael Dickel, (Mosquitos) War Surrounds Us

Jerusalem, Summer 2014: Michael Dickel and his family including Moshe (3 years) and Naomi (1 year) hear the air raid sirens, find safety in shelters, and don’t find relief during vacation travels.  In a country smaller than New Jersey, there is no escaping the grumbling wars that encircle. So Michael did what writers and poets do. He bore witness. He picked up his pen and recorded thoughts, feelings, sounds, fears, colors, events and concerns in poetry. The result is his third collection of poems, a chapbook, War Surrounds Us.

While some use poetry to galvanize war, Michael’s poetry is a cry for peace. He watched the provocations between Israel and Hamas that resulted in war in 2014 and he illustrates the insanity.

            And the retaliation
Continues, reptilian and cold,
retaliation the perpetrator
of all massacres.

Though the poems change their pacing and structure, they present a cohesive logical and emotional flow, one that takes you blood and bone into the heart of Michael’s experience as a human being, a poet, a Jew, a father and husband. He touches the humanity in all of us with his record of the tension between summer outings and death tolls, life as usual and the omnipresence of war.  Both thumbs up on this one. Bravo, Michael.

– Jamie Dedes

Poems from War Surrounds Us:
Again
Musical Meditations
The Roses

TLV1 Interview and Poetry Reading

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MY INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL DICKEL:

Jamie: Putting together a poetry collection and ordering the work in a way that enhances the meaning and clarity of poems included is not easy. One of the first things to strike me about the collection as a whole is how it flows, so well in fact that it reads almost like one long poem. I found that quality contributed to the work’s readability. How did you work out the order? Was it consciously ordered or did it arise organically out of the experience of the war?

Michael: I’m very gratified that you noticed this about my book. I hadn’t thought of it quite in that sense, of being one poem, but I like that it reads that way. The sense of a book holding together, a collection of poems having some coherence, is important to me. I don’t think my first book achieved this very well, although it has some flow poem to poem. The whole is not focused, though. My second book has a sense of motion and narrative, from the Midwest where I grew up to arriving and living in Israel, and now being part of the Mid-East. However, War Surrounds Us, my third book, finally has a sense of focus that the other two did not.

Unfortunately, I probably can’t take too much credit for that coherence. Even more unfortunate, a real war raged in Gaza, with rockets also hitting the Jerusalem area, not that far from where I live. As we know now, thousands died, most apparently civilians, many children. Just across the border to the Northeast, diagonally opposite of Gaza, a much larger scale conflict burned and still burns through Syria—with even larger death tolls and even more atrocities over a longer time. These wars had, and still have, a huge impact on me and my family.

During last summer, the summer of 2014, this reality of war surrounding us had all of my attention. And it came out in my writing as obsession with the war, my family, the dissonance between living everyday life and the reality of death and destruction a missile’s throw away. So the topic filled my poems those months, as it did my thoughts. And the poems emerged as events unfolded over time, so a sort of narrative wove into them—not a plot, mind you, not exactly, anyway.

This gives a chronological structure to the book. However, not all of the poems appear in the order I wrote them. I did move some around, seeing connections in a theme or image—if it did not jar the sense of the underlying chronology of the war. Some of the events in our life could move around, and I did move some poems to places where I thought they fit better. I also revised the poems, reading from beginning to end several times, trying to smooth out the flow. A few of the poems I actually wrote or started before this phase of the ongoing conflict broke out—but where they also fit into a pattern, I included them. In the end, I moved and revised intuitively, following my own sense of flow and connection. I’m glad that it seems to have worked for you, as a reader, too.

Jamie: What is the place of the poet and poetry in war? Can poetry, art and literature move us to peace? How and why?

Michael: This is a difficult question. Historically, one place of poets was to call the soldiers to war, to rile them up and denounce the enemy. There is a famous poem from the Hebrew Scriptures. Balaam is called by Balak to curse Jacob and his army. The story sets a talking donkey who sees an angel with a sword and other obstacles in his way, but long story short, he arrives and raises his voice. He is the poet who is supposed to curse the enemy. Instead, he begins, “How beautiful your tents, O Jacob…” and recites a poem that is now part of the Jewish liturgy. This is not necessarily a peace poem, but it shows words and their power to curse of bless. I think the place of the poet is to bless and, rather than curse, to witness with clear sight.

There is a long history of poet as witness and observer. Czeslaw Milosz in The Witness of Poetry and Carolyn Forché, following him, in her books Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness and Poetry of Witness, which goes back to the 16th Century, argue that the poet’s role is to observe and bear witness to the world—to the darkness, the atrocities, genocide, war… Forché quotes Bertolt Brecht: “In these dark times, will there also be singing? / Yes, there will be singing. / About the dark times.” I think that is what we do as poets. That’s what I hope that War Surrounds Us does at its best, albeit as much a witnessing of my own family and context as of the Other. Then, as feminist theory has taught me, the personal is political, the political personal.

A1oKsOxRrJL._UY200_Can art and literature move us to peace? I don’t know. I hope it can move us to see more clearly, to feel more acutely, and to embrace our humanity and the humanity of others. Perhaps that will move us toward peace. There is so much to do, and it is as the rabbinic wisdom says about healing creation: it may not be ours to see the work completed, but that does not free us from the responsibility to do the work. As poets, we make a contribution. I hope the songs about the dark times will also be blessings for us all.

Jamie: Tell us about your life as a poet. When did you start and how did you pursue the path? How do you carve out time for it in a life that includes work, children and community responsibilities. You live on a kibbutz, I think.

Michael: Well, starting at the end, no, I don’t live on a kibbutz, I live in Jerusalem (the pre-1967 side of the Green Line). I do teach English at a college that was started by the Kibbutz Movement as a teacher’s college in the 1960s, now Kibbutzim College of Education, Arts and Technology. That appears in my email signature and confuses some people outside of Israel, who think I teach as part of living at a kibbutz. I’m actually more like adjunct faculty, but no one at the college works directly for a kibbutz as far as I know, and the college is open to anybody who qualifies.

While I only have a short day, from when the kids of my current family go to pre-school until I pick them up, I also usually only teach part-time. Some semesters I teach full-time or even more, but usually not. And, many of my courses in the past couple of years have been online, meeting only a few times during the semester. This helps.

My wife works full-time in high tech, which allows us to survive on my irregular, adjunct pay. She also has some flexibility, which allows her to usually be free to pick up the kids as needed around my teaching schedule, and we have on occasion hired someone to help with the kids so I could teach, not so much for my writing. But that has allowed writing time on other days.

Mostly, I write during those few hours when the kids are at pre-school, after the kids have gone to bed, or even later, after my wife has also gone to bed. If I’m working on a deadline or a large project, such as some of the freelance work I do for film production companies, I write after my wife gets home from work even if the kids are still awake. Usually, though, I write when I find time, and I find time when I don’t have other obligations.

Perhaps of relevance to this book, the writing took over. I was late in getting papers back to students and delayed other obligations and deadlines, even canceling a couple of other projects—although it was not just the writing, but the whole experience of the war, dealing with it and wanting to be very present with my children. As the poems relate, we went to the Galilee, in the North, for a month, a vacation we have taken before. Last summer, though, it had extra urgency because of the war. Unfortunately, during an outing picking apples in the Golan Heights, we heard artillery across the border in Syria, and that’s when I wrote the title poem of the book, “War Surrounds Us.”

The summer before, on that same month-long getaway, I wrote a lot of flash fiction, which makes up most of my next book, which should come out by the end of the year. I wrote during both summers when the kids were napping or after their bedtime, mostly. The place we stay in, a friend’s house (he travels every summer), has a lovely courtyard, and after the children went to bed, Aviva and I would sit out in it, usually with a glass of wine. She would read or work online and I would write on my laptop into the night. It was lovely and romantic.

I have to say that I almost don’t remember a time when I didn’t write poetry or stories. I recall trying to stop on a few occasions, either to work in some other aspect of my life, or when I did a different kind of writing, such as for my dissertation (which devolved into creative writing for more than half of it). But really, going back into my early years, I wrote stories or poems of some sort—influenced I suppose by A. A. Milne, Sol Silverstein, Kenneth Grahame and, later, Mark Twain and even Shakespeare. I had books of Roman and Greek myths, the Lambs’ bowdlerized Shakespeare for children, and some Arthurian tales as a child, not to mention shelves of Golden Books. Later, I read Madeleine L’Engle and a lot of science fiction. And everything I read made me also want to write.

I owe the earliest of my poems that I can remember to exercises from grade school teachers, one in 3rd grade, maybe 4th, the other in 6th grade. However, I’m sure that I wrote stories and possibly “poems” earlier. My first sense that I could become a poet arrived via a junior high school teacher, who encouraged me to submit some poetry to a school contest. I tied for first place.

So, I started writing forever ago. By the time of the junior high contest, I had read e e cummings, Emily Dickinson, some Whitman. By 9th grade, I discovered the Beats through a recording of Ginsberg reading “Kaddish” and other poems. Hearing him read the poems, then reading them myself, changed everything.

Alongside this development, one of my brothers brought Dylan records home that I listened to. All three of my brothers, with my parents’ tacit approval, played folk music and protest music in the form of songs of Woody Guthrie; The Weavers; Joan Baez; Peter, Paul and Mary; in addition to Dylan. These influenced both my writing and my world view. The same year that I came across Ginsberg’s work, I was involved in anti-war activity in my high school. That spring, four students were shot at Kent State. In another way, that changed everything, too.

Writing, activism, and politics, for me have always been interwoven. I also heard that year about “The Woman’s Movement,” which today we call Feminism. Later, much later, I would read and take to heart the idea of the personal being political, the body being political. I think my poems, even the most personal, always have a political and theoretical lens. And the most philosophical or political or theoretical, also have a personal lens. I don’t think that we can help but do that, but I try to be aware of the various lenses, of using their different foci deliberately as part of my craft. I’m not sure that is the current trend, and much of my work doesn’t fit well in spoken word or slam settings (some of it fits). However, this is my poetry and poetics—and they arise from a specific cultural context, the complexity of which I could not begin to convey in less than a lifetime of writing.

My development from those awakening moments looked like this: I read. I wrote. I shared my work with other people who wrote. Sometimes I talked with others about writing. My first degree in college was in psychology, not English, because I naively thought that psych would help me understand the human condition and that English would “ruin” – suppress – my writing voice. However, I took a lot of literature courses and my study abroad term focused entirely on literature.

After college, I had a career as a counselor working with runaways, with street teens, with children undergoing in-patient psych evaluations, and in a crisis intervention and suicide prevention center—a career that taught me a lot about politics, gender, race, and justice. I continued to write, often about some of the most disturbing realities that I encountered, but not well.

I had been out of college nearly a decade when I took some courses in creative writing at the University of Minnesota, at the suggestion of some friends in a writing group who had also taken some. One of the professors encouraged me to apply to the Creative Writing Program, where I was accepted. The acceptance was a poignant moment—I was out of state at my father’s burial. My now ex-wife remained back with our then 2 year-old daughter. She saw the letter in the mail, so called and read it to me. It was also my 32nd birthday. So many emotions all at the same time. Mostly, I remember wishing I could have told my father—from when he first heard that I’d applied, every phone call we had included his asking if I had heard yet if I had been accepted. It was the most direct way he had of saying he was proud.

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Jamie: Tell us a little about 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) in Israel and how people can get in touch with you if they want to participate this year. Are you able to manage a mix of Arabs and Jews?

Michael: The thing about 100TPC is that it’s pretty loose, as an organization, and very anarchic in governance. Which is to say, I’m not sure there is something I could call 100TPC in Israel. There’s a wonderful poet in Haifa who does some events, I don’t think every year. She is very active in peace activism and poetry. There’s an Israeli mentor of mine, Karen Alkalay-Gut, who has organized 100TPC events in Tel Aviv since the first year. For the past two years, I organized a poetry reading in Jerusalem. The first one was small, a few people I knew and cajoled into reading. The second one was much larger, over 25 poets. We had one Arab writer, who writes in English, at the second reading. Her poetry is powerful and personal, written as an Arab woman, a mother, and an Israeli. An Arab musician was going to join us, but he had a conflict arise with a paying gig. It is difficult to manage the practical, political, and social barriers, but people do it here. I am just learning a bit how to do this now.

For this year, I am working with two other organizations—the Lindberg Peace Foundation, which has held annual Poetry for Peace events. This year will be the 40th anniversary (yartzheit, in Hebrew) of Miriam Lindberg’s tragic death at the age of 18. She wrote poetry, was a peace activist, and also an environmental activist. Her mother was a poet and professor, and passed away a few years ago. Joining us in planning the Jerusalem event will be the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development. Their mission as I understand it is to develop interfaith leadership for common goals related to eco-justice that would also provide a model for solving the Middle East conflicts.

The Jerusalem events won’t be the same date as the national event (26 September)—our dates will be 15–16 October, to honor the 40th anniversary of Miriam Lindberg’s death. Dorit Weissman, a Hebrew-language poet and playwright, also has become part of 100TPC this year, and she and I are having a smaller reading on 8 October with other poets.

We are just setting up a Facebook page for organizing with the three groups, 100TPC, the foundation, and the center. People could look for me on FB and send me a chat message there to be in touch. I hope that we will have the events posted on FB in the next few weeks, but we are still working on the details. The devil is always in the details, as the saying goes.

Michael will host The BeZine‘s virtual 100TPC this 26 September 2015.

Be the peace.

© 2015, book review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; words, poetry, photographs of Michael, Michael Dickel, All rights reserved; cover illustration, The Evolution of Music, by Jerry Ingeman, All rights reserved

Posted in General Interest

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY: “Got Change?”

Image: UConn/Pinterest
Image: UConn/Pinterest

While eating lunch today, I took in a few minutes of news—probably not the best option for one’s digestive system, heh?

Reports of serious world-wide conflicts, domestic abuse wrought by sports icons, the rampant spread of Ebola in third world countries, the ambush and murder of police officers, increased racial violence…on and on it went. My reactions? Fear, a sense of hopelessness and two all-pervading question: what has happened to cause such discord and what am I supposed to do to make a difference? Clearly, diplomatic relations haven’t produced much effect, nor have sanctions or war.

I think of Gandhi–a man of peaceful, non-violent resistance. I think of Francis, the saint and the pope—men of prayer. I think of Martin Luther and Mother Teresa—persons of action. And I think of Matthew Arnold, Maya Angelou, Rudyard Kipling, Langston Hughes and hundreds, if not thousands of other poets, famous and little known, whose work has influenced us as societies and individuals to make changes for the better.

On September 27th, The Bardo Group will join forces with poets world-wide in celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Here is a snippet/an invitation from their website that explains this movement:

Do you want to join other poets, musicians, and artists around the USA
and across the planet in a demonstration/celebration to promote peace and sustainability and to call for serious social, environmental and political change?

Image: julieflyglare.com
Image: julieflyglare.com

In preparation for Saturday’s kick-off, we would like to invite you to bring a poem or reflection of your own which gives your readers, each other, pause for reflection and the courage to support change. If we can touch but one person, it is worth the effort.

Here are a few suggestions we might draw upon:

• Plead a cause that is most important to you;
• Choose a poet or artist whose work invites change and write of them;
• Evaluate what changes you wish to make on a personal level.

I think of the popularity of “random acts of kindness” and the difference that a simple moment of thoughtfulness can make in another’s day and how that multiplies. Though our personal influence seems so limited, we do have the power to create change.

Someone once asked Mother Teresa how she could really expect to save everyone who was in a state of desperation. Her simple response: “One person at a time.” May our efforts effect that spark of positive change in our troubled world, or in one troubled life.

If you would like to share your work, please access Mister Linky, below, and copy and paste the direct URL to your post into the spaces provided.

Image: wellspiritconsulting.com
Image: wellspiritconsulting.com

Thank youl

– Victoria Slotto

© 2014, poem and photograph, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Victoria’s poetry collection is  Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012

Editorial note: With this post, we put closure on Writers’ Fourth Wednesday until further notice. Thank you for joining us and much appreciation for Victoria’s leadership with this event over the past several years.