From the wreckage of your life . . .

“Make art from the wreckage of your life.” Miguel Parga, screenwriter

Isn’t that a fabulous instruction to follow? It was shared on Facebook by the smart and savvy “Only Cin” – Cindy Taylor.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

FAT NEVERLAND (I’M LOATHIN’ IT) by Luke Prater … and a call for help from Luke and his family

LUKE PRATER‘s poetry is ever fascinating to me. He will tackle – as he has here – the same subject in more than one poetic form. Dedication, keen intellect and a singular irreverance are the hallmarks of this thirty-five year old English poet who took a degree in English lit with creative writing and performance and subsequently went to SOAS, London to study ethnomusicology at the master’s level. At twenty-seven he took up poetry, which he says saved his life – a thing it has done for many of us. More recently Luke added “iPhoneography” to his formidable list of accomplishments, shooting pictures and “editing the hell out of them.” J.D.

“They say a picture paints a thousand words; I’d argue the opposite.” Luke Prater

 

Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – villanelle

Factory-farm ‘em on rainforest land,
jab ‘em with jittery antibiotics, in
serving a hoodwinked world’s worst burger-stand.

Nutrient nadir damn should have you banned,
even when just drunken teens in your night-kitchen
sucking down scared meat from rainforest land.

Wretched obese bloat and roll at your hand;
farmers on statutory antidepressants been
plying, supplying world’s worst burger-stand.

Consciences slip through ringed fingers like sand.
Wallets are plump; I’m still wondering why? (you grin)
greenlighting greenfelling greenforest land.

Golden the arches, but ain’t worth a grand;
Ronald’s grave future sees past catching up with him –
homeless – McCuster’s last fastburger-stand.

Clown let the kids party Fat Neverland,
Tinkerbell grounded by chow she’s demolishing.
Cattle confused grazing rainforest land,
passed off as food at world’s worst burger-stand.

Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – Pushkin Sonnet

The cattle farmed where once was leafage,
force-fed with drugs unfit for us,
supplying world’s worst burger beefage
by farmers in disguised disgust.

Nutrition nadir should be outlawed,
to spare the trees the rasping chainsaw;
to spare the cattle cheap mince fate;
to close the flooding fast-food gate.

In wilful ignorance we swallow,
in sucking down scared meat with Coke.
Obese, they bloat in oily soak,

in lack of self-esteem they wallow.
Let kids carouse Fat Neverland,
at Ronald’s clowning, cloying hand.

Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – free verse

Factory-farmed on rainforest land;
force-fed with antibiotics to serve a
hoodwinked world’s worst burger-stand.

A nutrient nadir that should have
them banned, even when just drunken
teens in their night-kitchen, sucking
down scared meat with cardboard and Coke.

Wretched obese bloat oily soak, in
triple chins of self-loathing they wallow;
farmers swallow disgust and
statutory antidepressants
supplying mass substandard beef.

Consciences slip through
ringed fingers like sand.

Wallets are plump

greenlighting
……..greenfelling
…………..greenforest land.

Golden the arches, but ain’t worth a thing;
Ronald’s grave future sees
past catching up with him –
homeless –
……………….McCuster’s last fastburger-stand.

Clown let the kids carouse Fat Neverland,
now Tinkerbell’s grounded
by chow she’s demolishing.

Cattle confused, passed off as food
at world’s worst burger-stand.

Villanelle – A1-b-A2 | a-b-A1 | a-b-A2 | a-b-A1 | a-b-A2 | a-b-A1-A2

Pushkin Sonnet (Onegin Stanza) – AbAb CCdd Eff Egg

 

© 2012, Luke Prater, All rights reserved


LUKE PRATER is a seriously talented English poet and musician. Many of you may be familiar with his work. (And I believe his dad was a fairly well know and highly regarded musician in England.) Luke founded Facial Expression Poetry and Critique and WordSalad blog, both of which are gone now. He shared the piece above with readers here several years ago. I present it as an example of his work for those of you who haven’t read him.  He’s a very worthy man. If you can help a bit I hope you’ll consider doing so. / J.D.
Image may contain: 3 people, outdoor and text

Luke Prater updated his profile picture.

**We’re two thirds of the way there!**

I’ve been seriously unwell for a very, very long time. Fourteen years, in fact. Some of you know this, others don’t. For Facebook friends, and old friends I haven’t seen since school or my early/mid twenties, the truth is I have often made it seem like nothing is wrong. Which is possible on the internet, and with the crutch of a lot of medication. It almost feels like I’ve been living a lie for years, (when not completely absent), because I just wanted to snatch a few minutes of normal. To pretend everything’s okay. The point I’ve reached is this: I cannot continue — the years slipping away, existing rather than living, the continual pain, dis-ease and discomfort. Therefore my family (including sisters Susie Ro Prater and Joy Prater) are fundraising so I can go for treatment at a private clinic in Germany that specialises in chronic and degenerative diseases using stem-cell therapy and other protocols. We’re two thirds of the way there! Here is the link to the fundraising campaign –

THE GOOD WORKS of poets and their allies …


When I started The Bardo Group, now The Bardo Group Beguines (publishers of The BeZine), back in February 2011, I had in mind the human union in sacred space (common ground) as it  is expressed through the arts and the sharing of work that is representative of universal human values however differently they might bloom in our varied religions and cultures. I feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” They also offer a means to get some other good things done.

I have written about:

  • English poet and musician, John Anstie and the Grass Roots Poetry Group, that was founded through Twitter friendships and that published a collection to raise funds for UNICEF;
  • Dorothy Yamamoto, a poet and editor who brought a group of A-list English poets together to create a collecton, Hands & Wings, to raise funds for the rehabilitation and support of torture victims seeking protection in the U.K.; and,
  • Silva Merjanian who – along with her publisher – has donated procedes from the sale of her collection Rumor to fund assistance for Armenians escaping violence in Syria. The last time I spoke with her $5,000 was raised.

You can read about these three efforts HERE.


Today I’d like to bring three more initiatives to your attention:

  • Evelyn Augusto’s “Guns Don’t Save Live, Poets Do,Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence;”
  • Jazz singer Candice Hawley’s “Let’s Talk About it,” a free and open discussion of Anxiety and Depression; and,
  • Rev. Terri Stewart’s Peacemaking Circles for Seattle’s incarcerated youth. Terri is the founder of The BeZine’s sister site, Beguine Again, and a member of the zine’s core team.

“537 children under the age of eleven have been killed or injured by gun violence in the United States this year alone, according to Gun Violence.org.” Evelyn Augusto

Evelyn asked me to share information on her project  (I’ve included some info in a few Sunday Announcement posts). 

  • She is available to come and speak at high schools and to youth groups;
  •  She’s encouraging more people to write and post poems on gun violence;
  • She will be presenting at Rise and Resist for Sensible Gun Safety on November 2 in Oneonta, New York;
  • She has a collection of poems coming out shortly;
  • Her Facebook page – Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence –  is HERE.
  • To arrange a speaking engagement connect with Evelyn at poetsoul@gmail.com

Your Gun Is Talking

Excuse me, I can’t hear you–
your gun is speaking
louder than you do

and yes, you scare me,
it isn’t how it ought to be–
we are more like each
other than you can see

I can’t hear you
I can’t hear you
your gun is speaking louder
than you do

and yes, it saddens me
because all I see–
is a woman who doesn’t know
who she could be

I can’t hear you
I can’t hear you
your gun is
speaking louder
speaking louder.

There’s no more you.

© Written by Evelyn Augusto for Guns Don’t Save People, Poets Do. October 21, 2017


courtesy of openclipart.org

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT: Special for our Silicon Valley/South Bay friends, a workshop hosted by Jazz Singer Candice Hawley as part of her church’s Good Works Project: Let’s Talk About It is a free and open discussion of Anxiety and Depression, Chemical Imbalances and overall Mental Health. Candice says, “you’ll hear stories of lived experience, see a presentation by Tanya Pekker, MFT, on anxiety and depression, engage in a Q&A with all participants and more . . .”  Saturday, October 28, 10 am – Noon, Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, Moldaw-Zaffaroni Clubhouse, 2031 Pulgas Avenue, East Palo Alto, CA. Register HERE.


courtesy of Terri Stewart

Note: Among other things, Terri Stewart and colleagues are holding peacemaking circles with youth who have been picked up on possession of firearms.  Recently the success of these circles was acknowledged by the Seattle Times HERE.

The July issue of The BeZine covered prison culture and restorative justice. Learn about peacemaking circles in this excerpt from July’s The BeZine. 

JUSTICE IN NEW-OLD WAY

by

Terri Stewart

Rev. Terri Stewart, Associate Pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church

Today, we sat in the King County Youth Service Center lobby that had been turned into a courtroom for the sentencing of one of the youth we have been working with. I am a member of the King County Peacemaking Coordinating Team (PCT). We apply the principles of Peacemaking Circles, an ancient process taught to us by the Tagish and Tlingit First Nation people to modern court cases. A new-old way.

Today, we heard from the judge, the prosecution, the defense, the PCT…and then the respondent (person who did harm) spoke. And then the victim’s mother spoke.

We were all blubbering and sniffling by the end of it. But not because it was hurtful. The tears were because of the witness of transformation and hope. To see a genuinely healed person extend their hand to honor the victim. To see the victim’s family stand up and say, “Do more of this.”

There are some flaws to work out but that is because we are human. And this process is all about becoming more completely human.

In this particular case, the respondent had committed felony harassment. This charge on a juvenile record could irrevocably alter his future. It would limit his housing, loans, educational opportunities and more. I don’t know if we really understand what we do to juveniles when we hang felonies around their neck during a time in their life when their brain is not fully formed. But I digress.

I remember the mother of the victim looking at the respondent and saying (paraphrase), “It is so good to see you this way. Before, all I had as an image of you was the threat on social media where you had a gun and were threatening my boy’s life. You were scary. Now you are human.”

During the Peacemaking Circle process that took about 8 months, we discovered how similar the respondent and victim were. They were both from homes going through divorce. They both loved photography. They were both kids being sunk by the social systems around them. One responded by acting out. The other by withdrawing. In this case, working towards healing the family systems healed the crime. It helped everyone remember that they were human. And that we are all human.

I share below with you the recommendation from the PCT and the joy in a complete dismissal of charges against the respondent. (I’ve removed the names of the young people involved).

Can I get an Amen?!

Summary and Final Recommendations for Referral #4

July 7, 2017

Good afternoon, my name is Safia Ahmed and I am a member of the King County Peacemaking Coordinating Team. I have the honor of speaking on behalf of the team to share the work that has been done in this case and our recommendations for sentencing.

To begin, the Peacemaking Coordinating Team would like to honor and thank the victim and his family who gave their courageous support for this case to be referred. Their support and willingness to participate was instrumental in this restorative process to promote healing and partnership between King County, community based organizations, faith based communities, and the youth, families and communities of King County.

We received a referral for the respondent’s case on October 11, 2016 from Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jimmy Hung. A home visit was conducted with the respondent and his family to determine the suitability of this referral for the Peacemaking Circle process. In addition, a home visit was also conducted with the victim and the victim’s family to share an overview of the Peacemaking Circle process, answer any questions and gain an understanding of what level of participation in the Peacemaking Circle process they may want to have.

After completing both home visits, the Peacemaking Coordinating Team accepted the case. The following summarizes the work done since accepting the case in December 2016 until July 1, 2017.

Five Healing Circles with the respondent, the respondent’s family and community members who wanted to show support. Each circle was on average 3 to 4 hours long. These circles were to promote healing, peace and reconciliation and as preparation to meet with the victim and the victim’s family since they indicated their openness to actively participating in the Peacemaking Circle process.
The respondent and his parents participated in an all-day community circle with King County Executive Dow Constantine and other King County leaders on March 11, 2017.
The respondent’s mother attended a 3-Day Introductory Peacemaking Circle Training from April 26-28, 2017
One Pre-sentencing Circle and One Sentencing Circle that included the presence of the victim’s mother along with criminal justice stakeholders; friends and family from both parties.
Approximately 8 hours of check-ins via phone and text with the victim’s mother and her family, keeping them apprised of the respondent’s progress with the Peacemaking Circle process.
Ongoing check-ins with the Criminal Justice stakeholders involved in the respondent’s case, keeping them apprised of the respondent’s progress.
One home visit and approximately 20-25 hours of check-ins via phone and text with the respondent over the course of 7 months.
The following outline was agreed upon in the Sentencing Circle as a conclusion to this case:

Reimbursement to the victim’s family for 8 of the 12 counseling sessions the victim partook in for self-care and healing work. Each session cost $120 for a total of $960
2 sessions paid by the respondent
3 sessions paid by the respondent’s family
3 sessions paid from funds provided by the community and the Peacemaking Coordinating Team
The respondent’s father kindly agreed to show support to the victim and the victim’s mother by offering to pay for a trip as an opportunity to spend time with each other to rebuild their relationship along with having a positive experience coming from the respondent and his family.
In addition the Peacemaking Coordinating Team also recommends the following:

6 months of volunteer work with the Peacemaking Coordinating Team as a way to give back and pay it forward that includes:
Attending the Peacemaking Coordinating Team meetings once a month
Participate and help lead a monthly Young Men’s Circle in support of other young people who are going through similar situations.
The respondent, with the support of his brothers and parents, has agreed to these recommendations as a way to heal the harm he has caused to the victim, the victim’s family and to the community at large.

The Peacemaking Coordinating Team would like to conclude our review and recommendations to this case by again expressing our heartfelt gratitude to the victim and the victim’s family who graciously permitted the respondent and his family to participate in the Peacemaking Circle process even while contending with the harm inflicted by the respondent’s actions. It is our belief that their generosity and commitment to restorative practices have given space for the healing process to begin for both families. We would also like to express our appreciation to the court, our criminal justice partners and the community for the continued support of our work.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri Stewart

Currently Terri is raising money for the King County Peacemaking Teams.  As I write this $1,555 of $2,000 has been raised. Details and to donate link HERE.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

A New Report from PEN America Warns: Epidemic of “Fake News” Poses Looming Threat to Free Expression


The spread of “fake news” is reaching a crisis point, PEN America warns in its new report,  Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth. The comprehensive, 100+-page report evaluates the array of strategies that Facebook, Google, Twitter, newsrooms, and civil society are undertaking to address the problem, stressing solutions that empower news consumers while vigilantly avoiding new infringements on free speech.

Coming from the leading US free expression organization, the PEN America report argues that even though most “fake news” is protected by the First Amendment, its proliferation creates a flood of disinformation that imperils open expression writ large and demands a concerted response.

“Fake news is mendacious publication gone viral in the digital age,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, citing the organization’s 1948 Charter which commits PEN to “oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood and distortion of facts for political and personal ends.”

“That most fraudulent news may be protected by the First Amendment doesn’t mean it isn’t corroding our discourse and, ultimately, our democracy,” said Nossel. “When the public loses its bearings in terms of what’s true or false, it shakes the foundations that make freedom of speech valuable.”

Faking News rates the range of fact-checking, algorithmic, educational and standards-based approaches being taken to counter the proliferation of fake news.  The report identifies sound methods that merit investment, and sounds a warning bell for tactics that risk suppressing controversial speech, such as giving government new powers to regulate or calling on social media companies to block specific content entirely.

The report comes out as tech giants Facebook, Google, and Twitter are being called to Capitol Hill to testify about how their companies’ platforms and technologies were used by Russian actors in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election. Arguing that these companies—which are many Americans’ primary channels for news consumption—must play a critical and transparent role in curbing the spread of false news, the report spells out a series of specific strategies that center on empowering news consumers with access to fact-checking initiatives and news literacy programs.

In Faking News, PEN America also sets out a News Consumers Bill of Rights and Responsibilities outlining what consumers should expect from the outlets and social media platforms that convey news and how they can protect themselves and others.

In addition to the report, PEN America will host a public panel discussion about “fake news” on October 13 at the Newseum in Washington, featuring Nossel, NPR Editorial Director Michael Oreskes, executive director of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center Lata Nott, media critic Rem Rieder, and George Stanley, award-winning editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Newseum’s Gene Policinski.

The report is available here.

*****

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. The organization champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible