Posted in justice

Millions for Prisoner Rights, March on Washington, Abolish Amendment 13






“And whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind” (5:32).

“Each [hu]man’s step forward is a step forward for all of [hu]mankind.” the great white* brotherhood

* “white” here is not a reference to race but to the Aura of White Light that surrounds the anointed ones, those who have arisen from every race, creed and walk of life to lead others to enlightenment.

– Jamie Dedes

Posted in General Interest, Terri Stewart

Religious Community, Social Justice, Incarcerated Youth: An Interview with Terri Stewart

I “met” Terri Stewart online in 2011 when I visited her blog Beguine Again, which at that time was entitled Cloaked Monk. “Beguine” Again – after the Beguines, a lay semi-monastic Christian order of the 13th-16th centuries in Northern Europe. It was committed to – among other things – caring for the sick and the poor.

I was impressed with Terri’s commitment to spiritual ritual and her openness to the wisdom and beauty in religious traditions, including traditions other than her own. I valued her respect for diversity, both social and spiritual, so I eventually invited her to become the Sunday Chaplain for what was then a blog entitled Into the Bardo.

Since that time, we’ve evolved into a group (The Bardo Group) of clerics and poets, writers and other creatives representing varied traditions and cultures and sharing the core values of respect and nonviolence. We work in the interest of peace, sustainability and social justice. We publish The BeZine. Our thirteenth issue comes out on November 15th. The theme is At-risk Youth. Terri is taking the lead for that issue, making this the perfect time for readers and colleagues to get to know her better. Hence this interview … Enjoy!

Youth Chaplaincy Program Founder, Terri Stewart. Christmas at the King County Youth Detention Center, Seattle, Washington
Youth Chaplaincy Program Founder, Terri Stewart. Christmas at the King County Youth Detention Center, Seattle, Washington

Jamie: I have a sense that you were committed to social justice long before you decided to study theology and become a minister. Is that correct? What was the stimulus and what was the first project on which you worked?

Terri: When I first joined the church in 2001, I was looking for a connection to community. What I discovered was inequality in the church and an avoidance of social issues that drove wedges between people. It was like that uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner. Everybody is at the table, but only a few were allowed at the grown-up’s table. And! disagreements were glossed over for the sake of unity.

My biggest issue with the church was its lack of inclusion for LGBTQIAP individuals. In response to that, and as a mirror of the greater structure of the United Methodist Church (UMC) world-wide church, I founded the Church & Society committee. This was an attempt to get people talking and to be able to step into social issue learning and leadership. I soon found myself embroiled in controversy as two issues marched through Washington state. In 2004, there was a church trial in the town next to my home town that was an attempt to defrock a lesbian pastor. Also, just prior to the trial, I was involved in a march on the capitol in Olympia for marriage equality.

The upshot was that I was yelled at like I was a child! “Are you trying to destroy the church?”

Then, when I went to seminary, I chose a Jesuit (The Society of Jesus) institution. Liberation theology, post-colonial theology, process theology…all of these things continued to crack me open to the human condition and to the interconnectedness of all that is.

As my first forays into social justice was basically full inclusion for LGBTQIAP individuals within the UMC church, I would count myself unsuccessful. The UMC church continues to have harmful language in its official rulebook (the ominously named Book of Discipline). I continue to advocate and am on the national board of Reconciling Ministries Network. Our goal has been full inclusion. I think we are beginning to realize that we need a second goal, that of creating safe space.

Also! At the same time this was all swirling around, I started volunteering with Kairos Prison Ministry in 2003. Kairos provides spiritual renewal retreats within the prison setting. Working with Kairos (Ancient Greek for “the right time” as opposed to chronos which is “watch time”) started me on a path towards understanding the full systems that impact the lives of those who are incarcerated.

Jamie: How and when did the focus transition to incarcerated youth? What is the most important thing you would like us to understand about the youth being served?

Terri: As I worked with Kairos, I started out working with incarcerated men. Then with incarcerated women. And then with women whose loved ones were incarcerated. I worked my way into leadership positions. Eventually, we thought, “What about youth whose loved ones are incarcerated?” So we wrote a program just for them.

At the same time, I was called into ordained ministry. I went to seminary. In my second year of seminary, I was required to do an internship. My internship was at the King County Youth Detention Center (KCJDC), Seattle, Washington. I basically never left.

The thing to know about the youth at KCJDC and at the state level institutions I serve, is that they are traumatized youth. The average ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score for incarcerated youth is 92 out of 100. Most of us would be in therapy with that high of a score! Instead, these youth are incarcerated. We could change that by having trauma informed teaching practices in communities where generational trauma has occurred or by having mental health centers with trauma treatment available. Destigmatizing therapy would be grand!

Jamie: Tell us about Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, how other ministers may get involved and what the public can do to help.

Terri: The Youth Chaplaincy Coalition developed out of my internship at KCJDC. We realized that there was a need to organize, train, and supervise religious volunteers so that the youth would get the best care possible.

While we started at KCJDC, we now are state-wide. I run a mentoring program called MAP that aids youth in developing transition plans for when they go home. Since the kids go home all over Washington, I need volunteers in every city!

My dream is to teach people across the world how the MAP program works and how easy it is to walk with those affected by incarceration. There is also a training called “Healing Communities” that teaches communities how to use their gifts in aid of those affected by incarceration. If every church was a Healing Community and every city had trained mentors, we could transform the world! Well, we could at least change one child’s life. If you want to be involved or talk to me, you can email me at YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org

My biggest need is financial support. I take a very small stipend and am responsible for all my own fundraising needs. I often make decisions this way, “Should I do my work today? Or should I do fundraising today?” Although I should view fundraising as work, I often give it a lower prioritization! So donations would be especially appreciated. I persuaded the Church Council of Greater Seattle to adopt the organization so we are a legit 501c3 and we have an accountant doing all the financial stuff! That is a great gift to me!

Donations can be sent to:
Youth Chaplaincy Coalition
PO Box 18467
Seattle, WA 98118

Be sure and put YCC or Youth Chaplaincy on the memo line.

Jamie: What made you decide to go into ministry? What is the most rewarding aspect of that commitment?

Terri: When I first experienced a call to ministry, I thought I was going bananas. My first reaction was, “Who me?” or “I must be over-tired!” The call I experienced felt like a direct communication from the Divine telling me to go deeper. As I went deeper into understanding the call of ministry, I discovered it was a call to ordained ministry.

The most rewarding part of the commitment to a sacramental ministry is when I see a person’s eyes light up with the understanding that they are, indeed, holy and good—a living sacrament.

Jamie: Tell us about “cloaked monk” and the place of ritual in our lives.

The Cloaked Monk developed out of a commitment to daily spiritual practices in ordinary life (the monk part) and that I was kind of disguised—like wearing a cloak!

I believe that ritual marks out sacramentality in our daily lives. Sacramentality is that connection to one another and to the Divine. It is a way of marking time that moves away from chronological time (Greek: chronos) and into marking the fullness of time (Greek: kairos). It also allows us to fully be present without living in the past or rushing into the future. This is especially important in our transient age of moving here and there faster and faster. Rituals grounded in generational practices connect us through time and space to another age. There is also the place for new rituals created that uplift new and modern experiences that our ancestors would never have imagined. They can be a celebration, a grounding, a remembering, or a lament.

The ancient Celts had thin places. They were places that the veil between the earth and beyond seem especially vulnerable to one another. Places where the things of heaven could pass to the earth and where things of the earth could pass to heaven. Stonehenge is one such place. Or labyrinths. Ritual, when it is meaningful, creates this thin place.

Jamie: Why should readers care about people and issues that don’t seem to touch their lives directly?

Terri: Unfortunately, it seems that issues of justice and mercy do not intersect with ordinary lives. Incarceration seems far away from us. Refugees in Syria seem far away. Violence in Palestine seems so very far away. But it all tangles together like my bag of knitting yarn. I am a very poor knitter. My yarns always get tangled and I don’t know what to do. And when it is in my bag, it will suck in all the other little things in there! Resources or things I might need become tangled up in the yarn. Those are resources that I need. They might be resources that others need.

In Washington, we spend about $9,600 per student to educate them. We spend about $45,000 per prisoner to incarcerate them. What we know is that by reading scores in the 4th grade, we can predict incarceration rates because we do not fully fund our schools. What if we were able to direct our resources into education? All students would benefit.

I imagine that it is like boats rising in a tide. A rising tide raises all boats. Yours, mine, everyone’s!

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© 2015, most words and all photographs, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

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

SAVE THE DATE: 26 Sept. 2015: 100,000+ poets in solidarity for peace and sustainability

Heads-up everyone: For the fifth year on September 26, 2015, more than 100,000 Poets (and artists, musicians, and other creatives and activist) will meet in town squares, theaters, on beaches, in cafes and probably some backyards in solidarity for a peaceful and sustainable world.

At The Bardo Group/Bequine Again, we’re hosting a virtual event so that those who have no neighborhood events to go to or who are home bound can participate.

At this writing founder Michael Ronthenberg, poet and publisher, reports that 300 events are already registered.  To see if there’s an event near you or to register an event in your neighborhood, go to the site. 

The following is a message from the founders of 100TPC:

Michael Rothenberg: Poet and editor of Big Bridge Press and zine

and

Terri Carrion: Associate editor and visual designer of Big Bridge Press and zine

100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE [100TPC] MOVEMENT for PEACE & SUSTAINABILITY!

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

“What kind of CHANGE are we talking about?”

The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This changes how we see our local community and the global community. We have become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It is empowering . . .

… and there is trouble in the world. Wars, violation of human rights, ecocide, racism, genocide, gender inequality, homelessness, the lack of affordable medical care, police brutality, religious persecution, poverty, censorship, animal cruelty, and the list goes on and on.

Transformation towards peace and a more sustainable world are the major concerns and the global guiding principle for 100 TPC events. War is not sustainable. There is an increasing sense that we need to move forward and stop moving backwards. But we are trying not to be dogmatic. We hope that together we can develop our ideas of the “change/transformation” we are looking for as a global community , and that each local community group will decide their own specific area of focus for change for their particular event. All we ask is that local communities organize events about change within the guidelines of peace and sustainability.

“I want to organize in my area. How do we begin to organize?”

100 Thousand Poets for Change will help organize and find individuals in each area who would like to organize their local event.

If you are an organizer for your community you will consider a location for the event and begin to contact people in your area who want to participate in the event. Participation means contacting the media, posting the event on the web, in calendars, newspapers, etc., reading poems, doing a concert, performing in general, supplying cupcakes and beer (it’s up to you), demonstrating, putting up an information table, inviting guest speakers, musicians, etc., organizing an art exhibit, and documenting the event (this is important, too), and cleaning up, of course.

Organizers and participants will create their own local event as an expression of who they are locally. Do they want a a concert or a jam session, candlelight vigil or a circus, a march or a dance, poetry reading in a cafe or on the subway, do they want absolute silence, a group meditation on a main street; it’s up to the local organization.

However, groups should try to hold some part of the event, if not all of it, outdoors, in public view (not required). The point is to be seen and heard, not just stay behind closed walls. It is also important that the event be documented. Photos, audio, videos, poems, journals, paintings! Documentation is crucial. The rest of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change want to hear what you have to say about change and enjoy your creativity too! The documentation will be shared through a blog/website that I will set up, a blog/website where groups can share and announce event information, as well as post photos, videos, poetry, art, and thoughts. But an event doesn’t have to involve tons of people. It can be just you (the organizer) and your pet, on a street corner, with a sign. Just let me know what you are planning!

Every effort counts!

Each local organization determines what it wants to focus on, something broad like, peace, sustainability, justice, equality, or more specific causes like Health Care, or Freedom of Speech, or local environmental or social concerns that need attention in your particular area right now, etc. Organizations will then come up with a mission statement/manifesto that describes who they are and what they think and care about. Mission statements form arround the world have been collected and worked together into a grand statement of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Thank you for joining us!

Best, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion

—————————–
Michael Rothenberg: Poet and editor of
Big Bridge Press and zine

Terri Carrion: Associate editor and visual designer of
Big Bridge Press and zine

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, General Interest

“Disruption” ~ the backstory on the People’s Climate March …

This is the trailer. You can watch the full movie HERE.

Posted in Bardo News, Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, General Interest, Peace & Justice, Poets/Writers

BARDO NEWS: “Beguine Again” + “The Bardo Group” merging; Poetry Kudos; 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change event; the People’s Climate March gone global …

800px-rafael_-_el_parnaso_estancia_del_sello_roma_1511-1STATUS ON MERGING  Beguine Again and our collective, The Bardo Group, continue with sharing of ideas and some modifications to site links already in progress. At this point the intention is to continue with daily posts. The official transition date is October 1st. On Saturday, October 4, Terri Stewart will post a more complete status report. Jamie Dedes will remain as a part of the core team and as poetry liaison.

We move forward with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change. However, we have streamlined the plan given the weight of work that is now upon us. We won’t be able to publish a book this year – a dream for next year maybe – but we’ll still have daily post/s and in the spirit of the occasion, we invite readers to link in their own relevent work to the posts via Mister Linky or in the comments sections starting September 27 and through October 3 inclusive. Shortly after the event close, we’ll collect links into a Page like the one we did for Poets Against War, 2013 Collection HERE.

The Bardo Group chosen area of concern for this year’s event is Peace and Justice.

The founders of 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change are enthusiastically rolling forward. Founders Michael Rothenberg, poet and editor of Big Bridge Press and zine,  and Terri Carrion, poet, writer and associate editor and visual designer of Big Bridge Press and zine, have pages set up for all participating organizations. THE BARDO GROUP event page is HEREWe take this opportunity to thank Michael and Terri for their vision and their work.

Michael and Terri have written: 

“The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It will be empowering.”  MORE

KUDOS

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PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH (HERE) The largest global demonstration for climate action in history is scheduled for September 21. In solidarity, Beguine Again will post spiritual practice relevant to the issues.

(c) 2014 Jamie Dedes
(c) 2014 Jamie Dedes

 

More than 100 organizations are taking part in an online recruitment drive to sign people up for the demonstration. In the first hours of the push, thousands of new sign-ups have already begun to flow in.

The People’s Climate March is expected to be the largest demonstration for climate action in history. The march takes place just two days before world leaders gather for an emergency Climate Summit at the United Nations. Marchers are demanding leaders go beyond rhetoric and commit to bold action at the summit.

More than 750 organizations around the world are supporting the People’s Climate March, from the largest transit workers union in New York City to a coalition of buddhist monks.

In total, the groups represent roughly 100 million people worldwide.

The scale of organizing for the march now rivals that of a major electoral campaign, with thousands of volunteers, daily phone-banks and canvasses in NYC, and a major online operation to turn out marchers. Updates from the field include:

Trains and hundreds of buses will be bringing people from across the country for the march. Including a dedicated train from San Francisco to New York, a dedicated train from D.C. to New York, and buses from multiple points outside of New York.

More than 45 labor unions have signed onto the march, pledging to turn out members in New York City and from surrounding areas.

Connecticut alone has over 40 different groups confirmed to attend.

Renowned artist Shepard Fairey, whose Obama Hope poster has become world famous, has donated a poster design for the march.

At a warehouse in Brooklyn, artists are creating giant sculptures, floats, and banners for the march.

The global campaigning group Avaaz has secured 10% of the subway ads in NYC for the month before the march. The ads were chosen after a poster design contest that netted over 400 entries worldwide. Groups are planning a major student recruitment push for college campuses as classes resume in September.

In New Delhi, thousands will take over the streets on September 20 to demand a renewable energy revolution.

In Australia, organizers are expecting hundreds of individual events to take place across the country, including a major march in Melbourne.

In London environment organisations and faith groups are combining forces to create a historic march through the city to the steps of Parliament.

In Berlin three parallel marches will combine forces in a colourful festival.

Events are already being planned in Ghana, Kenya, DRC, Nigeria, and Guinea, along with a major march in Johannesburg.

In Paris, local groups will create the “Paris Marche pour le Climat,” with parades, marches, and bicycle rides planned across the bridges of the Seinne.

Reports are also coming in of large mobilizations planned in: Kathmandu, Rio, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Dublin, Manila, Seoul, Mumbai and Istanbul.

Organizers are confident that the sheer scale and diversity of the People’s Climate March events, from the headline demonstration in New York City to the simultaneous events worldwide, will show politicians that there is a massive, energized movement demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis.

In New York City, the message will be difficult to ignore: marchers have come to an agreement with the NYPD for the march to flow directly through the middle of Manhattan. The march will begin at Columbus Circle at 11:30am on Sunday, proceed over on 59th Street to 6th Avenue, down 6th Avenue to 42nd Street, then right on 42nd Street to 11th Avenue. The route passes by some of New York City’s most famous landmarks, from Rockefeller Center to Times Square.

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The march and the Climate Summit in New York mark the beginning of a busy 18 months of crucial international negotiations. Climate negotiators will head to Lima, Peru, in December 2014 to make progress towards a global climate deal. Then, in September 2015 world leaders will meet back in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, the global post-2015 development agenda. Three months later, the world will gather in Paris to try and sign a new international climate treaty.

BLOGGERS AND WEBSITE OWNERS don’t forget that September 10 is Internet Slowdown. This is all about NetNutrality. Our site host, WordPress, is participating.

In the spirit of peace, love and community,

The Bardo Group

Posted in General Interest

The Australian Wilderness Society, protecting the environment

Published on Mar 18, 2013
Welcome to the Wilderness Society!! Our valued staff and members share their stories about the Wilderness Society and their reasons for protecting the Australian environment and wilderness.

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), leader of Indian Nationalism and promoter of nonviolent civil disobedience

 

Posted in Buddhism, Teachers

UPDATE: Buddhist Global Relief

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, American Buddhist Monk, Theravada Tradition

Founder and Chairperson

Buddhist Global Relief

Photo ~ Ken and Visakha Kawasaki under Creative Commons Atribution-Share Alike 3.0 Uported License via Wikipedia

This is just in from the Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi. J.D.

·

BGR Logo
let the lotus
of compassion
enfold the world

Buddhist Global Relief came into being in June 2008, born of the conviction that Buddhists should play a more active role in helping our unseen brothers and sisters around the world emerge from the crushing weight of poverty and social neglect. Inspired by the Buddha’s great compassion, we chose chronic hunger and malnutrition as our special focus. Our programs are intended to help people escape this brutal trap by promoting more sustainable methods of food production and more equitable systems of food distribution. We also sponsor the education of poor children, especially girls, and right livelihood opportunities for poor women, enabling them to earn more to feed their families.

In only three years, we’ve already launched over twenty-five projects in Asia, Africa, Haiti, and the U.S. The most recent include:

  • regular nutritious meals for hungry children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • wells to provide water for poor families in Cambodia
  • training in employable skills for indigent girls in Sri Lanka
  • educational assistance for slum children in Nagpur, India
  • training farmers from Malawi in ecologically sustainable agriculture
  • a community garden and orchard to produce nutritious organic vegetables and herbs in Mqatsheni, South Africa
  • a greenhouse to grow produce for the poor in the Maryland-Pennsylvania region of the U.S.

Today BGR is playing a major role in representing Buddhism on the stage of global giving. Last year, we were even invited to participate in conferences on collaboration in poverty alleviation at the White House and the National Cathedral. These led to several partnerships with Oxfam America on projects in Cambodia and Vietnam. Recently Tricyleand Buddhadharma, two major American Buddhist journals, featured articles about BGR (please see Tricycle’s Feeding the world’s hungry and Buddhadharma’s Buddhist Global Relief articles). We want this Buddhist presence to flourish, visibly representing the compassionate spirit of the Dharma in ways made urgent by the terrible persistence of poverty and malnutrition.

We’re doing our utmost to turn back this tide, but we can’t achieve our goals without help from friends who share our ideals and resonate with our values, good-hearted people like you. Your donations are the key to everything we do: to combating hunger and malnutrition, to educating poor children, to helping those who cannot help themselves. And because we’re an all-volunteer organization, we use the funds we receive prudently, with care and discretion, to ensure that over 90% of every dollar goes directly to finance projects.

As we come to the end of 2011 — the time for selfless giving — please bring forth a heart of generosity for the world’s poor and hungry people, who need a helping hand in order to rise up and stand on their feet. Please give generously. When you give, you become a part of our mission, a partner in our endeavor to express compassion in action. Bear in mind that to give is to receive, to experience the joy of offering others the chance to live with dignity and hope.

May all blessings be with you and your family,

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi signature

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Founder and Chairperson

Buddhist Global Relief is a 501(c) (3) organization. Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations. You can either donate online at the BGR website or send a check to:
Buddhist Global Relief
PO Box 1611
Sparta, New Jersey 07871 USA

If your company has a Matching Gift Program, please enclose the necessary forms as well.

Posted in Essay, Jamie Dedes

POET ACTIVISTS IN SOLIDARITY

 

“From time immemorial, poetry has built better bridges between people than those with bricks and stones. And these bridges do not get old or obsolete … ” [Change Is Born in the Womb of Poetry]  MujeebJaihoon


POET ACTIVISTS IN SOLIDARITY

by

Jamie Dedes

After much resistance, I finally joined Facebook under my name HERE and created a page for Into the Bardo HERE. Facebook is yet another something that can consume too much time, but it’s also a gold mine of information and introductions to talented, responsible folks from around the world. Through poet-Friend connections I recently received an invitation to participate in:

100 THOUSAND POETS OF THE WORLD (100 Thousand Poets for Change) – This puts me in mind of Sam Hamill‘s Poets Against the War, when hundreds of poets marched and read outside the White House in protest against the war in Iraq. That was a well-defined effort. In this case the first question that comes to mind is “What kind of change?” 

The first order of change is for poets, writers, artists, anybody, to actually get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. I think it will be empowering.  Excerpt from the press release of March 2011 announcing the the first 100 Poets for Change global event that was held on September 24, 2011. The next global event is scheduled for September 29, 2012.

100 Thousand Poets for Change is a unified effort among activist poets, artists, photographers, and musicians working toward a sustainable world through simultaneous events held across the globe, basically consciousness raising and peaceful protest. This September under the umbrella of  100 Thousand Poets for Change, 700 events were held in 550 cities representing 95 participating countries united to promote environmental, social, and political change. That’s pretty amazing and down-right gratifying. 100 Thousand Poets for Change is not getting the press that the Occupy movement is getting, but it is striking by virtue of its size, support, and sustainability.

Bob Holman and Margery Snyder, in an article on About.com said, “the beauty of the concept of 100 Thousand Poets for Change is that it is completely decentralized and completely inclusive.”  All those involved are hoping, through their actions and events, to seize and redirect the political and social dialogue of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and sustainability.

Throughout the year, there are also small local events. Even as you read here today, the Sharjah International Book Fair is in progress will run  through November 27. 100 Thousand Poets for Change was invited to participate and is actively doing so.

If this effort sounds like something that interests you as a poet and/or citizen of the world, check out the website HERE.

POETS AGAINST THE WAR started in 2003 by Sam Hamill is now defunct, but all the poems have been placed in a university archive. I was honored to find that two of mine are included. Sadly the web domain has been assumed by others for advertising. However, there is a bound collection of some of the original poems, Sam Hamill, Poets Against the War.

Δ

AUDRE LORDE (1934 – 1992)

Caribbean-American poet, writer, activist

trying to make power out of hatred and destruction

trying to heal my dying son with kisses

Power by Audre Lorde, The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

NOTABLE AND QUOTABLE

“[Poetry begins] that process by which we insure the future because we know so much more than we understand. We must first examine our feelings for questions, because all the rest has been programmed. We have been taught how to understand, and in terms that will insure not creativity, but the status quo. If we are looking for something which is new and something which is vital, we must look first into the chaos within ourselves. That will help us in the directions that we need to go–that’s why our poetry is so essential, is so vital. Now whether poetry has the responsibility to effect social change . . . it doesn’t really matter. As we get in touch with the things that we feel are intolerable, in our lives, they become more and more intolerable. If we just once dealt with how much we hate most of what we do, there would be no holding us back from changing it. This is true with any kind of movement. This is the way in which the philosopher/Queen, the poet-warrior leads.” Audra Lorde in an interview Karla Hammond, American Poetry Review, March-April 1980

©  Jamie Dedes, 2011 All rights reserved

photo credit ~ Audra Lorde (1980) by K. Kendall via Wikipedia and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Posted in Essay, Jamie Dedes

THE EVOLUTION

 

When we marched,
Slithered
Through slimy mud past riot-shielded cops in Alexander
(This is the ghetto.)
While children peered wild-eyed from dark windows,
For some of us these were re-runs of earlier apartheid-burdened days.
But, then, it was defiant resolution that drove our hearts and braced our feet.
Now, sadness at betrayal sat sadly on our hearts.
Our shouted slogans hung heavy over us in grimy air.
We winced at familiar oft-repeated lies
Oft-repeated lies.

Dennis BrutusSouth African Poet/Activist (1924 – 2009), in Leafdrift

·

THE EVOLUTION SHALL BE BLOGGED

by

Jamie Dedes

There are people for whom poetry exists almost exclusively as an aid to social change, to political discourse– not as some sort of didacticism – but as a discussion, a wake up call, a way of approaching some truth, finding some meaning, encouraging resolution. I’m not one of them. I am as likely to write about the beautiful flowers that have just popped on my orchid – at last – or something my mom said fifty years ago as I am to write a poem on a social issue. But it does happen and quite often:  a horrific war photo, a news report of an injustice, a homeless person outside the grocery, a friend in pain that I can trace to some social issues, and the words start to flow. There’s the urge to respond, to do something – the urge to activism.

As I make my way around the blogosphere, I delight to see how many poets blog for causes – “worthy” causes as my mom would say – and I know that “worthy” is in the eye of the reader. War is big. For those poet-bloggers who are pacifists, this medium offers one means of passive resistance. Perhaps passivism is the strongest form of resistance and poetry the conscience of the collective soul.

In the 70s, the American author, poet, and musician, Gil Scott Heron, wrote The Revolution Shall Not Be Televised (video below). It comes to mind now. For those who remember, this might seem odd. It’s a Nixon-era piece, but we’re still struggling with the trivialities Heron is so beautifully strident about. And the revolution couldn’t be televised. It would be too big for one thing. Though Heron was addressing issues for blacks, I would submit that while we have different histories, we’re all struggling to stay afloat on the same broken-down raft.

In Dennis Brutus’ poem above, he points to the world we now live in. Having survived Robben Island with Nelson Mandella, he was freed only to find that while apartheid ended in South Africa it had become world-pervasive. The issue now he discovered was no longer race but economics: the few haves vs. the masses of  have-nots. And those who have just a bit – enough to feel safe and perhaps a bit smug – are just a hairbreadth away from have-not.

I can’t help but think that the revolution so many of us seek is rooted in transforming values. Hence, it is more evolutionary than revolutionary. As such, perhaps it is too gradual and pervasive to be televised. Perhaps it is evident in our blogosphere and the heart-born prose and poems of simple folk like you and me with nary a pundit or politician among us. Perhaps it’s a bottom-up thing, more likely to be blogged than broadcast, rising from homespun poetry – outsider literary art – sometimes rudimentary and awkward, but always quiet and true and slow like a secret whispered from one person to the next. It is perhaps something stewing even as we write, read, and encourage one another. Perhaps there is some bone and muscle in what we do. Individually we have miniscule “audiences.” Collectively we speak to enormous and geographically diverse populations.

I think I hear army boots a-marching, marching across networks everywhere. Or perhaps poetic fancy has caught my spirit today and all is dream …I hope not. Blog on …

So let some impact from my words echo resonance 
lend impulse to the bright looming dawn

Dennis Brutus

Video posted to YouTube by .

Illustration: Face the Monster  Frits Ahlefeldt, Public Domain Pictures.net.