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In Conversation: Poet/Musician Graffiti Bleu & Michael Rothenberg, cofounder of the global peace initiative, 100,000 Poets for Change


You can listen to the two-hour podcast HERE. Recommended! This post is meant as an alert and also to share my two cents.

As I write, it’s just a few hours after listening to Just My Thoughts with Graffiti Bleu on BlogTalk Radio. The show started with an exploration of What does the revolution look like? with Graffiti Blue, Michael Rothenberg, and the show’s panel and callers comprised of poets involved in 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC).

Harkening back to Gil Scott-Heron and his poem, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,  part of the discussion was on technology and social networking and their roles in fostering peace, social justice and sustainability. When Heron wrote his poem in 1971, the means to formulate and distribute information and opinion were dominated by mainstream media and corporate interest, which were not in sympathy with the revolution Heron envisioned. Those interests are still dominant and still lack sympathy, but there’s something of a balance occurring – however imperfect – now that we plain folk have access to the tools of technology and social networking. Without social networking, we wouldn’t have 100TPC, which can happily be said to have gone viral since Michael Rothenberg put out a call on Facebook for poets to join in a global peace effort back in 2010. While each of us in the “100,000” has a relatively small “audience” together we touch many, many minds and hearts. We do have an agenda, but it doesn’t foment strife. We’re not in anyone’s pocket. That’s clean power. It’s power to …

On a personal level, one benefit of technology is that people who are homebound – as I sometimes am – can take part in change-making initiatives more actively than simply writing letters-to-the-editor or to our legislators, which is not to say we should give that up. I started a virtual 100TPC via The BeZine and with The Bardo Group Beguines so that disabled people and people who do not live near a 100TPC event would have the opportunity to have their say, to lend their support. Our 2015 commemorative page is HERE.

We need to do more than “talk.”  Agreed. And I think that one of things 100TPC gives us is hope … huge hope from seeing that there are people in every nook-and-cranny of the world who share our values and priorities. This helps us to keep on keeping on with our local grassroots initiatives as well as our broader advocacy. This serves to sustain our faith and commitment.

Ultimately for me, 100TPC is about breaking down barriers, crossing boarders. It leads the way in our evolutionary journey toward a sustainable peace. In the documentary film Ten Questions for the Dalai Lamathe Dalai Lama says “we need more festivals.”  In other words, if we get to know people, if we break bread with them or share a bowl of rice, we are less likely to think of them as “other.”  It will be more difficult to turn around the next day and do harm.  100TPC is our festival. Once we’ve shared hearts, souls and stories through poetry, how can we marginalize anyone? How can we abandon or abuse?

Can the revolution be bloodless? The question is really “will it be?” I don’t think so. I don’t think revolutions are by their very nature “bloodless.” The psychopaths will always be with us and until we stop marginalizing people and leaving them desperate and vulnerable to tyrants, we’ll never have bloodless reform. We’ll never achieve a sustainable peace. Peace is a state that takes awareness and awareness takes growth, which is an evolutionary process.  That doesn’t mean we should give up. It means that as poets we should continue to bear witness, to touch hearts, to raise consciousness and to nurture the process of growth. As poet Michael Dickel said in an interview on this site HERE: “. . . it may not be ours to see the work completed, but that does not free us from the responsibility to do the work.”

© 2016, words, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photograph courtesy of Graffiti Bleu and Michael Rothenberg.

In his steps … Martin Luther King, Jr., a legacy

2016015699419aee083by Rev. Ben Meyers, Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo (UUSM), CA

This past Saturday (January 16), in the North Central Neighborhood of San Mateo, the children in the county school system gathered at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center to listen and support the poets, essayists, and artists who participated in this year’s (the 31st annual) event. Afterward, everyone was invited to gather at UUSM, to celebrate the children and to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy with activities, music and buffet.

In most communities across the country, the practice of inviting school-age children to ponder King’s legacy and its impact on the American culture and society is fast becoming a standard practice and tradition. This year’s MLK contest topic encourages an exploration of other leaders who were influenced by King’s message of hope, unity, enfranchisement, and peace. It is right that the “next” generation engage in the continuance of King’s impact because we live in a time when those ideas are daily challenged by continued despair, disparity, and violence. We can yet ask, “Where do we go from here?”

FullSizeRender-1As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth today, let this be a time when, along with paying our respects to the memory of King’s life and his historic legacy, we raise our consciences from our “moments of comfort and convenience” and ask ourselves in ways never before, “Where are we standing among the current challenges and controversies that yet plague our communities, thwarting our dreams of equality and shredding the network of mutuality of which Dr. King spoke so eloquently?” It is time to know where, or even if, we stand for justice and equity and peace.

If we do not like the answer to our inquiry, let us have the courage and the audacity to move ourselves from our comfort and complacency to a place more inconveniently situated, and stand tall.

© Rev. Ben Meyers, all rights reserved

Just fun today: Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky read by Benedict Cumberbatch

If you are viewing this from Facebook or email, you’ll have to link trough to listen to the video.


‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

– Lewis Carroll

by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson),photograph,2 June 1857
Lewis Carroll selfie photograph,2 June 1857

61KpHS-4AqL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), the pen name of Oxford mathematician, logician, photographer and author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, is famous the world over for his fantastic classics Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Hunting of the Snark, Jabberwocky, and Sylvie and Bruno.

Ruth Jewell (A Quite Walk), a core team member of The Bardo Group Beguines found this delightful reading of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem read beautifully by actor Benedict Cumberbatch. The poem is from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871), which is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland (1865). The illustration is from the book and was done by Sir John Tenniel.


The BeZine, 15 Jan. 2016, Vol. 2, Issue 4 (Parents and Parenting), Table of Contents with Links

Published by Second Light Network of Women Poets, Parents, an anthology of poems by women writers (Enitharmon/Second Light, 2000) was the inspiration for this month’s theme. What a wonderful idea. Parents are after all universal, even when the one who parents is a surrogate. This month The Bardo Group Beguines and friends have taken on parenting as well as parents and  present an interesting blend of insights and experience.


Young Prince Rāhula prompted by his mother to ask for his inheritance, left behind by the Buddha after His renunciation. Instead, the Buddha told Venerable Sariputta (Sariputra) to ordain Prince Rāhula, giving him a spiritual inheritance better than the one he asked for.
Young Prince Rāhula prompted by his mother to ask for his inheritance, left behind by the Buddha after His renunciation. Instead, the Buddha told Venerable Sariputta (Sariputra) to ordain Prince Rāhula, giving him a spiritual inheritance better than the one he asked for.

The lead feature, Buddha as Parent, is by Gil Fronsdal.  Gil was ordained as a Soto Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1982. In 1995 he received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman, the abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. Gil currently serves on the SF Zen Center Elders’ Council. He is the primary teacher at the Redwood City Insight Meditation Center in California and he teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California where he is part of the Teacher’s Council. His books include the ever popular Issue at Hand: Essays on Buddhist Mindfulness and A Monastery Within: Tales from the Buddhist Path.

If you have read the life story of Buddha, you may have been disconcerted to find as I was that the Buddha was an absentee father. Gil says however:

“…that after his awakening, the Buddha became his son’s primary parent for most of the boy’s childhood. From the time Rāhula was seven, he was under the care of his father, who proved to be a remarkably effective parent: Rāhula had reached full awakening by the time he reached adulthood. So we can ask, what kind of parent was the Buddha?”

In exploring the Buddha as a parent, we get some insight into how we too might bequeath a spiritual inheritance.

c Corina Ravenscraft
c Corina Ravenscraft

We move on to read Corina Ravenscraft’s touching feature Art Lessons about the support and inspiration her artist mother provided and Priscilla Galasso’s The Nature of Nurture, about her experience of parenting.

“Parenting is a living thing, a responsive dance with biology, and although we humans are biologically social creatures, heavy-handed social structure can strangle our relationships and bind us into damaging patterns.”

Resident storyteller Naomi Baltuck – whose family wins the award for most original family photos and best costume parties – generously offers two of her wise photo stories on theme.

We have a rich collection of poems under both “Parents and Parenting” and the “More Light” section. These include works by three poets proudly added to our pages: award-winning New York poet, Matt Pasca along with Lance Sheridan and Ampat Varghese Koshy.  Incuded among the poets are Myra Schneider and Dilys Wood, who share their poems from the anthology, Parents.

Under music you’ll find Walkin’ Home, so beautifully written and sung by Iris DeMent.

James Cowels and John Anstie offer thought-provoking essays under “More Light” and Marlyn Suarez-Exconde – also new to our pages – combines words and art into a pleasant nugget of wisdom.

Getting to Know You, a new section, features charming interviews of team members, Cornia Ravenscraft and Priscilla Galasso.

Read. Learn. Laugh. Cry … share your thoughs in the comment sections and show your appreciation of contributors with “likes.”  Join us next month for “All God’s Creatures.”

Special thanks to Moshe Dickel for letting us use his painting for this month’s header, to team member, Michael Dickel, for introducing Matt Pesca, and to award-winning British poet Anne Stewart for her kind and constant assistance in getting permissions for me from writers and publishers in the UK.

Don’t forget to visit The BeZine sister site, the spiritual community, Beguine Again, where you can enjoy Terri Stewart’s inspirational posts for daily spiritual practice. These have been well-received and are beginning to go viral.  Bravo!

On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines and in the spirit of peace and community,
Jamie Dedes
Managing Editor


Lead Feature:

Budda as Parent, Gil Fronsdale


Art Lessons, Corina Ravenscraft


The Nature of Nurture, Priscilla Galasso


Remembering Mom, Jamie Dedes


Magnum Opus, Naomi Baltuck
Back Down to Earth, Naomi Baltic


Squeezing a Penny, Jamie Dedes
Nursery Rhymed, Michael Dickel
Hearts and Glowers, Joseph Hesch
Three Poems by Ampat Koshy, Ampat Varghese Koshy
Jigsaw Puzzle, Charles Martin
Walking Around Monaco, Matt Pasca
Soup and Slavery, Myra Schneider
Christmas Fare, Dilys Wood


Walkin’ Home, Iris DeMent


An Interview of Corina Ravenscraft
An Interview of Priscilla Galasso



When the Heart Speaks, Marlyn Suarez-Exconde


Individual Responsibility … Whose job is this?, John Anstie
Sailing with the Ancient Mariner, James R. Cowles


Bullied Into Insanity, Brian Crandal
Compassion, Michael Dickel
Grace, Matt Pasca
Into the Darkness … A Mugging, Lance Sheridan

Further Connections

Beguine Again, Spiitual Community and Practice

Brief Biographies of Core Team and Contributors

For updates and inspiration “Like” us on Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

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Back Issues Archive
October/November 2014, First Issue
December 2014, Preparation
January 2015, The Divine Feminine
February 2015, Abundance/Lack of Abundance
March 2015, Renewal
April 2015, interNational Poetry Month
May 2015, Storytelling
June 2015, Diversity
July 2015, Imagination and the Critical Spirit
August 2015, Music
September 2015, Poverty (100TPC)
100,000 Poets for Change, 2015 Event
October 2015, Visual Arts (First Anniversary Issue)
The BeZine, Volume 2, Issue 1, Nov. 2015 (At-risk Youth)
The BeZine, Volume 2, Dec. 2015 (Waging Peace, An Interfaith Exploration & The Hero’s Journey)