Wild Women in Art, Poetry and Community featuring Gretchen Del Rio’s Art and Victoria Bennett’s “The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be”

Spirit of the Wolf

‘The spirit of the wolf resides in my heart
Mostly peacefully, but ever wild
Running in time to the blowing wind,
Dancing in the clouds that drift in the heavens
The spirit of the wolf resides in my soul.”
– Gretchen Del Rio



The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be

by Victoria Bennett

Snow Owl by Gretchen Del Rio

At twenty-six, I met an owl. It turned out to be one of the axis moments on which my life pivoted. It was a cold January day where frost lingered in the shade but the sun was shining, the kind of day where things seems possible because you have survived the darkness of winter. The trees stood bare of leaves, branch-fingers stretched out expectantly, waiting for Spring. I was waiting too, holding a sense of change quietly behind my eyes. I watched the crows fly, black wings against blue sky, looking for carrion, listened only to the sound of water and wind and some crow caw above. This was what I was trying to remember – the feel of my touch, the scent of the sky, the hopeful warmth of sun just after the midwinter. My life had become so much darkness, so much noise and pollution and not seeing. This was the counterbalance and so far, it was working. Slow, slow days, allowing the words to surface and sound and where words could not come, allowing the brush to paint or the body to move. All was changing. I was changing. The woman I was underneath was beginning to take shape, and to my surprise, I liked her.

But first, the owl. I was stood beside the ash, eyes closed, when I heard a scratch from above. I opened my eyes and saw the owl, white feathers thick for winter, watching me. Awake. Not daring to move, I simply looked and allowed it to look at me, until after a few moments, it flew away. The owl came, and I was listening because I was ready to hear, and I was ready, it seemed, to shift shape again.

One week after the owl and I met, I had a dream. In this dream, I was with a woman walking along the river. She told me I was to call the Wild Women together. This did not seem strange or unusually prophetic. I had found a deep resonance with the stories I had found in the Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book Women Who Run with the Wolves and so the archetype of the Wild Woman was something I was familiar with, but the sense of purpose was surprising, and so, the next morning I got up and started to write the posters for what was to be the very first of the Wild Women workshops.

“The reason that people awaken is because they finally stop agreeing to things that insult their soul.” Gretchen Del Rio

Six weeks later, I stood in my living room, the fire in the stove burning and the tea hot in the pot. Before me sat twelve women, very different in ages and styles, but all sharing something special: they had all responded to the call. And so it came to be, the Wild Women group was born and I was to be their mother-wolf for this journey. As I stood there, faced with women whose individual and collective ages outstripped my own, I felt petrified. Who was I to stand here and say “this is the way of being woman”? Yet, that is exactly what I was to do. I did not know where it would take us, take me. I was just willing to begin, brave enough to speak out and hopeful enough to believe.

‘”Welcome…”

… and in that one word, I started something that would sustain me through my twenties, thirties and into my forties. I had met my clan. Together, we found the courage to stand up and say, “This is who I am…”.

That was nearly twenty years ago. Since then, working with the Wild Women, I have gone on to set up Wild Women Press, published several books of poetry from the group, worked with over 2000 women (and some brave men) on a number of amazing projects, hosted the (in)famous Wild Women Salons, made creative connections around the globe, and performed live at events around the UK and USA. It is a space of celebration and activism. There is no business plan or professional career path. It can lie dormant, hibernating as we nuzzle down and grow our ideas in the dark, or it can awake with passion and create for change on a global scale. We have used our creativity to create positive change, to be part of the world we want to live in andleave for those who follow. Sometimes we act on a very local level, sometimes on a global one.

Recently, I have been collaborating with the creators of the #MeToo poetry anthology. This is a very important movement for me personally, and for us as a group. As soon as I heard Deborah Alma was wanting to put together an anthology of poems from this movement, I offered my support, and the platform of Wild Women Press. It was obvious from the very beginning that there would be many more poems than there were pages in the book, and so #UsTogether was created, to give a platform for some of these other voices. Alongside the launch of the book, Wild Women Press are hosting a selection of these poems, in honour and celebration of the courage and sisterhood of all those who have spoken out as part of the #MeToo movement.

One of the core aspects of the group is the respect and celebration of each individual woman. Although in the beginning it was me who stood at the front of the room, every woman in the group was to go on to inspire and lead, using their own experiences, passions, talents, and knowledge to guide them in how they would to do that. In a similar vein, we will be launching an online Wild Women Press blog later in 2018, sharing our ideas and perspectives. Over the next year, we will be gathering Wild Women from around the globe to contribute, extending our circle of clan further. We would love to hear from other women, who would like to be part of a clan of contributors. If you are passionate about something, and would like to be part of a global group of Wild Women writing, creating, and being part of a positive change, please do get in touch.

In 2019, it will be our 20th Anniversary, and 20 years since we published our first book, Howl at the Moon: Writings By Wild Women. To celebrate this, we will be publishing a new book of poems by Wild Women – and this time, we are extending the howl out to others. We will be putting out the call for submissions soon, on our website, Twitter, and Facebook page.

For now, we continue to meet as a group every couple of months, and once a year, we spend four days at our Wild Women Gathering, celebrating, creating, and sharing our stories (and eating way too much food). We have witnessed births, marriages, divorces, unemployment, career changes, graduations, new beginnings, and painful goodbyes. What began as a workshop group, has become a place we now call home, and a wild family. You can sometimes find us on the fells or beside fires. We howl often, laugh lots, and when prompted, bare our teeth. Our coats are all a little more silver, and our eyes a little more wise, but we are still discovering. We are the Wild Women, and we welcome you.

Victoria Bennett
Founder, Wild Women Press

http://www.wildwomenpress.com
@wildwomenpress
https://www.facebook.com/wildwomenpress/

© 2018, “The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be” and the wild-women word-heart illustration, Victoria Bennett, All rights reserved; 2011 and 2018, water color paintings, Gretchen Del Rio, All rights reserved

Poet, publisher, activist and wild woman, Victoria Bennet

VICTORIA BENNET (Wild Woman Press) is an award-winning poet, creative activist and full-time home-educating Wild Mama to her son, Django. Originating from the borderlands below Scotland, she is the Founder of Wild Women Press and has spent the last quarter of a century instigating creative experiences in her community. Her poetry has appeared in print, online and even in the popular video game, Minecraft. She has published four collections and performed live across the UK, from Glastonbury Festival to a Franciscan Convent.

Poetry publications include:
Anchoring the Light
Fragile Bodies
Fragments
Byron Makes His Bed
My Mother’s House – a Poetry & Minecraft Collaboration with Adam Clarke, that explores grief and letting go

What We Now Know – digital VR music collaboration with Adam Clarke and The Bookshop Band, inspired by the #MeToo anthology



angel300-c12182011© Gretchen Del Rio


HER POWER LEAPS

she’s present

returned to bite through the umbilical of tradition,
to flick her tongue
and cut loose the animus-god of our parents,
like a panther she roams the earth, she is eve wild in the night,
freeing minds from hard shells
and hearts from the confines of their cages,
she’s entwined in the woodlands of our psyches
and offers her silken locks to the sacred forests of our souls ~
naked but for her righteousness,
she stands in primal light,
in the untrammeled river of dreams
the yin to balance yang
the cup of peace to uncross the swords of war ~
through the eons she’s been waiting for her time
her quiet numinosity hiding in the phenomenal world,
in the cyclical renewal of mother earth,
whispering to us in the silver intuition of grandmother moon
watching us as the loving vigilance of a warming sun ~
she, omen of peace birthed out of the dark,
even as tradition tries to block her return,
her power leaps from the cleavage of time

© Jamie Dedes


Gretchen Del Rio

Illustration ~ the lovely watercolor painting by Gretchen Del Rio with its girl-tree, panther and other spirit animals was the inspiration for my poem, Her Power Leaps, on the return of the divine feminine. The back-story on the painting is interesting. Gretchen says, “I painted this for a fourteen year old Navaho girl. It is for her protection and her power. She sees auras and is very disturbed by this. She is just amazing. Beauty beyond any words. You can see into the soul of the universe when you look at her eyes. She has no idea. I loved her the moment I saw her. My blessings for her well being are woven into the art.” Such a delightful piece. I purposely posted it full-size so that everyone can enjoy the detail. Bravo, Gretchen, and thank you. / Jamie Dedes

©2011, water color painting; Gretchen Del Rio, All rights reserved; 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved.


ABOUT

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“#MeToo: rallying against sexual assault and harassment, a women’s poetry anthology” edited by Deborah Alma; “Persephone’s Daughters,” empowering readers and writers who’ve experienced gendered abuse

Will be out on March 8. Pre-order HERE.



#MeToo Anthology, The Back Story

by Deborah Alma, Editor

The #MeToo (Fair Acre Press, March 8, 2018) anthology came straight out of a long thread on my Facebook page in October 2017, just as we were talking about the Harvey Weinstein allegations on the news and before I had even heard of the #MeToo campaign. I asked women friends of mine to add their name on the thread if they hadn’t experienced any form of sexual harassment in their lives and I was surprised to find that of the 200 women that started to share some of their stories , 2 or 3 told us that it had never happened to them. My surprise was not that there were so few, but that there were any women at all.

Of course over the years we have shared these stories with our friends, sisters, mothers, partners and sometimes with the police, or in court. It has been the water we swim in as women. But saying something publicly has always been difficult and brave. The words would stick in our throats, for so many reasons.

But something was released and given a space within social media. It was easy to add our voice to the rising shout of #MeToo. We felt the sisterhood. Many women were emboldened by this to share more difficult stories, more details.

I’m a poet, and an editor and someone suggested we collect these stories somehow and it was obvious to collect them as poems. It was what I could do.

I am very proud of this book, proud of the poets for sharing and for the courage in putting their names to their words. I have been amazed by the wonderful collaboration in its making; all of us women.  Jessamy Hawke is the daughter of an online friend and she came forward and offered to make new line drawings for the book, the striking cover was made for the book by my friend Sandra Salter and all the work of editing and publishing was donated. Jess Phillips MP gave us her introduction and it’s been endorsed by Amanda Palmer and Rachel Kelly amongst others.

I do recognise that it is a painful and difficult to read a great deal of the time. But when taken slowly, and with reading only what you can bear, I trust the reader will hear its rallying cry of anger and impatience. We have had enough.

© 2018, Deborah Alma

DEBORAH ALMA (Emergency Poet) is a UK poet, with an MA in Creative Writing, taught Writing Poetry at Worcester University and works with people with dementia and in hospice care. She is also Emergency Poet prescribing poetry from her vintage ambulance. She is editor of Emergency Poet-an anti-stress poetry anthology, The Everyday Poet- Poems to live by (both Michael O’Mara), and her True Tales of the Countryside is published by The Emma Press. She is the editor of #Me Too – rallying against sexual harrassment- a women’s poetry anthology (Fair Acre Press, March 2018). Her first full collection Dirty Laundry is published by Nine Arches Press (May 2018). She lives with her partner the poet James Sheard on a hillside in Powys, Wales.



POETRY FROM

#MeToo: rallying against sexual assault and harassment

 

Freeing the sources of light

Make friends with the light.

It’s been years

since you watched summer turn bad,

 

felt warm grass chafe your bare legs

and his old man’s fingers

trespass beneath the dress

 

you never wore again.

That hot summer

you dashed to your childhood garden

 

but the sun glared,

music buzzed from the wireless,

stung a secret place, the Everlies

 

and Elvis called heart:

always tender, baby,

always untrue.

 

And summers afterward

echoed bus rides to city parks

where he kissed your mouth,

 

fondled your arms.

The sun blurred, twinned

into headlamps,

 

pinned shadows on the wall-

but it was decades ago.

Welcome the light,

 

you don’t need a sky’s worth,

just a lodestar for the journey.

White roses in a glass vase,

 

candle-flame at dusk and the moon

in winter, carrying

its bowl of borrowed sun.

© 2018, Sheila Jacob      


Bitch

Always just within reach, it is the desk-drawer revolver

or the switch that is flicked when a woman says No

and means No and knows her own mind

and makes herself inconveniently clear;

 

it is the cocksure roar of boy used to his own way,

one more of the ones we warn each other about,

whose reputations we pass around like classroom

secrets, names itching from girl-hand to woman-hand,

 

the ones who just adore women, who say their wives

really don’t mind, the ones who wonder, aloud,

and publicly, what hitch qualifies you to claim

this space for your small fierce self,

 

the ones who will scrape back their chair, stand up

in the kitsch restaurant, tongue catching on the latch

of that single syllable,the alarmed door he will shoulder

open becoming the exit she will depart through. 

© 2018, Jane CommaneAssembly Lines (Bloodaxe, 2018)


Irish Twins

attic rain

the backyard swing

off kilter

We share an attic room. In the corner is an old double bed that smells and sags on one side. My side. Late at night I hear my heart beat. Loud. So loud he will hear it. He will think my heart is calling him up the attic stairs. His footsteps are heavy. He smells of old spice and cherry tobacco. My eyes shut tight. I know he is there. I feel his weight. Never on my side. Always on the side she sleeps. When the bed-springs sing their sad song I fly away. Up to the ceiling. My sister is already there. Together we hold hands. Looking down we see our bodies. We are not moving. We are as still as the dead.

© 2018, Roberta BearyContemporary Haibun Vol.14 (Red Moon Press)



PERSEPHONE’S DAUGHTERS

The Return of Persephone, c.1891 (oil on canvas) by Leighton, Frederic (1830-96); 203×152 cm; Leeds Museums and Galleries (City Art Gallery) U.K.; English, public domain

PERSEPHONE’S DAUGHTERS is published online, in print and in film. This magazine’s content is based on a mission to empower women / femme individuals who have experienced various forms of gendered abuse (sexual, emotional, physical, racial, verbal, etc), or other forms of degradation (harassment, catcalling, threats, etc).  Persephone’s Daughters welcomes all identities.

Online Sunday Stories feature personal accounts of those surviving abuse. There is also a film submission category that aligns with the mission. Accepted works are featured online on Film Fridays.  Of note is a post-election mini-issue, a writing and art collection by people who are negatively effected by the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. Proceeds from the sales of that collection go to the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, which provides services, legal help, and advocacy to unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing trafficking, conflict, poverty and more.

The editor’s say that submissions for Issue 5 will likely open in April. The theme is “Sexual Assault Awareness.” Sunday Stories and Film Fridays are currently open for submissions. Link HERE.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

RESIST, REIMAGINE and REFORM: 100,000 Poets for Change honor the Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and address gun control; PEN World explores pathways through turmoil

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”  Jiddu Krishnamurti



USING OUR WORDS: Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, cofounders of 100,000 Poets for Change, are wonderful at finding ways for us gather online and off and to use our words to raise awareness of justice issues, encourage one another, make connections with like-minded, become a force for positive change, and show those in turmoil that we are present.

Michael announced today ..

“So far Coconut Creek, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Tallahassee have scheduled 100 Thousand Poets for Change associated readings as tribute to the students murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. These readings will be held in March and address the topic of gun control. We are waiting for confirmation for Pensacola, St. Petersburg and Gainesville and welcome additional organizers in Florida and around the country who wish to participate in this initiative.”

Look for events near you or publish your event info on 100,000 Poets for Change Communication Hub.  You are also welcome to post events on The BeZine 100,000 Poets for Change, 2018 Discussion Page and A World with Peace, A Place to Lament and Resist Gun Violence.



PEN America presents the 2018 PEN World Voices Festival: Resist and Reimagine, this year’s incarnation of the renowned international literary festival, which will bring together the world’s foremost authors and other luminaries at a time when many are turning to literature and the arts not for escapism, but as a guide to navigate contemporary crises.

Salman Rushdie founded the festival in the isolationist aftermath of September 11, 2001, to fortify links with the rest of the world; now again the need to connect and draw inspiration from beyond America’s borders is pressing.

PEN America Festival Director Chip Rolley explains, “For the first time in its history, we are deliberately training the Festival’s wide lens on America itself, probing the fissures and inconsistencies in our own culture, alongside those of writers visiting from overseas. We will examine different kinds of resistance—the internal and the external, the political and the personal—and tap into the imagination that is at the core of the best fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, joining together in a week that reaffirms our faith in the power of the word to transform our society, our politics, and our daily lives.”

The Festival will unfold across sixty-plus events in dozens of venues in four of the five New York City boroughs, April 16-22. It kicks off on April 16 with Resist and Reimagine: Opening Night in Three Acts. Colson Whitehead will speak about applying one’s imagination to elucidate historical truths, as the novelist did for his “carefully built and stunningly daring” (The New York Times), Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad.

Novelist Leila Slimani—a Muslim immigrant from Morocco to France whose novel The Perfect Nanny won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt—will speak with New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnikabout how worlds can be reimagined by bending the lenses of ethnicity and geography.

Australian performance poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke will read from “A Letter from Manus Island: A Refugee Resistance Manifesto,” by Behrouz Boochani, the Iranian Kurdish poet and journalist who has been held for over four years in Australia’s detention center on Manus Island while awaiting asylum. Boochani writes here about how “the refugees were able to reimagine themselves in the face of the detention regime.”

In a separate opening night event, Dave Eggers will talk with Mokhtar Alkhanshali, the Yemeni-American historian, community organizer, and coffee innovator whose aim to revitalize Yemen’s coffee industry through worker empowerment is the subject of Eggers’ latest book, The Monk of Mokha.

The resistance embodied in the disclosures of the #MeToo movement has inspired a number of events in this year’s festival, which extend the examination of gender and power begun in the 2017 festival. On April 20, critically acclaimed, best-selling author Roxane Gay will speak with #AMtoDM co-host and BuzzFeed Books founding editor Isaac Fitzgerald on the intersecting subjects her writing famously tackles. Zeroing in on the ongoing fight for female autonomy, Handmaid in America (April 21) will bring together a group of women writers, including Siri Hustvedt and Leni Zumas, who will discuss literature and its responses to encroachments on women’s reproductive rights. On April 17, Us Too, a powerful program of poetry, readings and conversation about violence against women will include Tishani Doshi, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Dunya Mikhail, and Mona Eltahawy. These open conversations on the traumas the female body endures strive to liberate women during this movement of reckoning.

With The M Word: Hasan Minhaj and Wajahat Ali (April 22), comedian and Daily Show senior correspondent Minhaj and writer/lawyer Ali will speak about the varieties of Muslim American experiences, the pressures of being public ambassadors for a vastly multifaceted group that America just as vastly generalizes, and how comedy and creativity have changed under Trump. The M Word: No Country for Young Muslim Women (April 18) will see Sudanese-Australian author/mechanical engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied and MuslimGirl founder Amani Al Khatahtbeh—both of whom left their home countries, Australia and America, respectively, due to harassment and vilification—discussing the complexities of being Muslim and female in Western countries. Abdel-Magied will also speak with Sick author Porochista Khakpour, and Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist media critic who endured a barrage of #GamerGate harassment and death threats in Take Back the Net: Fighting Online Hate (April 21). Looking into the real-world impact of virtual bullying, those who have refused to be silenced will discuss productive means for resisting and reimagining the Internet as a free and fearless space.

Addressing authorship and cultural alienation, Cry, the Beloved Country (April 19) will unite Ryszard Krynicki, Serhiy Zhadan, Marcos Aguinis, Domenico Starnone, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Hwang Sok-yong, Basma Abdel Aziz, and Negar Djavadi to articulate the particular rage of oppressed populations in their home countries. Meditations on Exile (April 20) will feature Chinese novelist Xiaolu Guo, Iraqi-Assyrian poet Dunya Mikhail, and Iranian screenwriter/novelist Hossein M. Abkenar. They will discuss their experiences of having fled their home countries to avoid censorship and the potentially severe repercussions of their self-expression, and how these experiences have shaped the way they write about place. The Trick of Translation (April 21), will speak to a more formal means of border transcendence—the attempt to capture the spirit of a work in another language. Jhumpa Lahiri will talk with Domenico Starnone about Starnone’s novels Trick and Ties, translated from Italian to English by Lahiri.

The chronicled lessons from the past can act as living guides, particularly as threats to key rights swell. Taking a moment to look back to America’s most fearless activists and writers, Jelani Cobb, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Gregory Pardlo mark the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Where Do We Go from Here? (April 20), which asks, with hope at its core, the titular question of Dr. King’s last book. Looking further back in history, biographer Ron Chernow talks to MSNBC host and author Chris Hayes about Ulysses S. Grant, one of our most underappreciated presidents, who worked for justice and the political enfranchisement for African Americans. Exploring what should be inalienable rights, Mother Jones reporter Ari Bermanand historian Carol Anderson will delve into racialized voter suppression in Killing Democracy (April 19). One of the festival’s central aims is to defend and provide a platform for open discourse; Masha Gessen, Patrisse Cullors, and PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel will shed light on first amendment tensions in America today in Resistance Report Card: Grading the Groundswell(April 21).

In Legacy of an LGBTQ Countercultural Icon (April 21), translators Bonnie Huieand Ari Larissa Heinrich and poet Eileen Myles will examine the work of the late Qiu Miaojin, whose cinematically experimental novels dauntlessly depict lesbian life in Taiwan long before any form of queerness was socially accepted. While she was writing up through the 90s, to this day, globally queer communities remain vulnerable.

As so much of what literature explores politically and personally is inherently connected to place, several events will probe location’s distinct impact on personhood. The city of New York has functioned as an iconic and figurative setting across myriad art forms: in New York Stories (April 21), Salman Rushdie,Sergio De La Pava, and others will talk about encapsulating the city in fiction. With a more panoramic gaze, in America, Real and Imagined (April 22), authors from different corners of the country will discuss their shared interest in the American landscape’s profound ability to shape identity. Francisco Cantú—a former-border-patrol-agent-turned-author—will join acclaimed Sunshine Stateauthor Sarah Gerard and poet/author Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke Nation whose memoir Crazy Brave won the 2013 PEN Center USA prize for creative nonfiction. Cantú, who wrote the “sharply political and deeply personal” (New York Magazine) The Line Becomes a River, will also look into a particularly fraught section of the American landscape, the Mexican-United States border in Borders of Our Imagination, where he will speak with novelist and essayist Valeria Luiselli and playwright and DREAMer Amalia Rojas (April 20).

Young people are just as likely as adults to be curious about the often puzzling, sometimes troubling, world around them, and there is a growing body of books and other publications that cater to this curiosity. For the first time in its history, the festival will feature a day of storytelling, interactive events, comics and freestyle poetry workshops for children, tweens, and young adults as part of its new Next Generation Now series curated by Meg Lemke of MUTHA Magazine. Little Activists: A Workshop and Mini-March (April 21) will encourage children to express their own ideas of democracy, equality, and freedom, and learn how to translate their thoughts into political engagement. Leila Sales, who will lead he workshop, created The Little Book of Little Activists after being inspired by children in the Women’s March. R.J. Palacio, author of the best-settling novel Wonder (recently adapted as a live-action film with Jacob Tremble in the leading role) will speak on the importance of acceptance, and the pivotal lessons that literature can teach us from a young age. Tony Medina, Ilyasah Shabazz, and Toni Blackman are also among the featured Next Generation Now authors.

PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel says, “While the present political moment in the United State feels unprecedented and unparalleled, when we turn toward the rest of the world the tide of revanchism we are enduring is neither new nor confined to our own borders. International writers and thinkers offer a well of lessons and insights on how to thwart and protest, to sustain and nurture resistance, to shore up threatened values, and to look beyond the present impasse. PEN America has always worked as a bridge across cultures and geographies, forging relationships and solidarity that are a counterweight against hatreds and polarization. In the digital age, with so much of our discourse reduced to tweets and sound bites, face-to-face conversation across cultures about how to realize a different collective future is essential. If frayed relationships between the world’s governments are ever to be repaired, it will be because we nurtured relationships, empathy, and understanding among peoples—that’s what the PEN World Voices Festival does.”

Peter Barbey, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Village Voice, which co-sponsors the 2018 PEN World Voices Festival, says, “This year’s theme, Resist and Reimagine, couldn’t be more timely or topical.  It resonates here at The Village Voice since those very same principles have been reflected in our mission since our inception in 1955, at the beginning of an American cultural revolution. As Official Media Sponsor of the Pen World Voices Festival, we call on all New Yorkers to join the conversation.”


ABOUT

A Moral Failure; poems by Michael Dickel and Jamie Dedes written in the aftermath of shootings; protests and resources

 



“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. from his speech, A Proper Sense of Priorities, February 6, 1968, Washington, D.C.

When we speak or write about gun control, the fingers point to second amendment rights, to the suggestion that a complex problem may resolve with the application of one strategy, or to the NRA position and lobby. Democracy is messy, but safety and citizen rights are the concerns rational people hold in common.

No matter the side on which we stand, we are guilty of a moral failure. Gun control is not going to be the entire answer. It’s a beginning and as the U.K., Australia, Japan and Germany have proven it’s a huge and rewarding beginning. I think that most who advocate gun control understand that the issues of violence in America are complex. Not the least of other initiatives would be mental health interventions, mitigating poverty and youth unemployment, creating more educational opportunities and subsidizing arts programs, revisioning our materialistic values, fostering the reimagination of masculinity, and honoring our stated religious convictions. Many of us understand gun ownership as the gateway drug to violence and murder, a contradiction to those convictions. The U.S. is predominantly a country of the Abrahamic traditions and the law we share: “Thou shalt not kill.”

– Jamie Dedes


A Priest’s Lament

i

Starting from the outside,

the labyrinth’s path moves closer,

further, closer, as it takes a poet

deviously toward the center.

 

Mosaic patterns, partly broken

by frost, perpetually bloom there.

Gray, mossed-stones line the path—

they frame the wanderer’s flower.

 

ii

We wandered that desert

for forty years. All we had

for communication were

specially designed tents

 

built from detailed plans—

each folding floorboard

and floating nail exact—

a cellular plan from God.

 

iii

That lonely God longed for

our calls, the return of a gift

we could not understand.

We just turned on each other

 

instead. We hoarded words

into locked arks as though

we owned them or understood

what they meant. We didn’t.

 

iv

We meant to know more. Ever since,

with poor reception, a limited data plan,

we still pretend we can call God

whenever we want. We pray

 

for every child shot in school

as though words could unlock

such cruelty. We pray that we

will not long be held responsible.

 

v

I long for the days before

those instructions were given,

before we built the tabernacle,

before we transformed the tent

 

to stone on top of a mountain,

before we thought we knew

what God wanted us to do,

before we decided we were priests.

 


Poem of separation (kodesh)

(vi)

A wandering God longs for us

from outside a forty-year labyrinth,

folding time, returning space, locked

into receiving words that cannot be given.

 

We thought we knew.

 

(vii)

On the seventh day, God rested.

We have not seen or heard

Creation since. Our language

overwhelms the world.

 

We thought we knew.

© 2018, poem, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play), All rights reserved (Written during the 100,000 Poets for Change 2018 Lake Jackson Poetry Residency Program)

February 23, 2018 — 7:00 pm

Poetry Reading with Michael Dickel
A Sublimatus / HamiltonSeen Production
The River Trading Company Bookstore
Facebook Page | Facebook Event
559 Barton St. East
Hamilton, ON L8L 2Z2  Canada

A note from Michael:

Stoneman High School students who survived the shooting are resisting. If you haven’t yet, see the widely shared video of one articulate student “calling” BS the excuses and people refusing to ban assault weapons through her tears. Facebook Page: March for Our Lives


Collateral Damage

bullets
……….perforated

and were laid to rest in her
sterile room on steel tables
lined-up like school children
awaiting lessons

Math

counting wounds, counting dead

Biology

which the death-dealing injury

innocent life forms wept

….trees
……..birds
…………earth
…………….sky

children

in the stillness between breaths
she boxed and stored her tears
making way for scalpel and saw

best

yes, best

to keep her heart locked-down

until . . . until

a whiskey

a bed

oblivion

©  2018, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved



POETS AND OTHERS STAND AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE

At this writing, according to the Gun Violence Archive in 2018 there have been 6,975 incidents, 1,922 deaths, 3,330 injuries, 71 children killed or injured, 377 teens killed or injured, 32 mass shootings, 41 officers shot or killed, 312 subject or suspect killed, 235 home invasions, 192 defensive use of guns, and 229 unintentional shootings in the United States.

MAR21

A World With Peace: A Place to Lament and Resist Gun Violence

100,000 Poets for Change Co-founder, Michael Rothenberg and The BeZine team member, Michael Dickel, have initiated a day for poets to gather wherever they are in the world to resist violence, especially gun violence, and raise awareness of the need for appropriate gun legislation in the United States and elsewhere. Beguine Again founder and another member of The BeZine core team, Terri Stewart, Guns Don’t Save People, Poets Do founder Evelyn Agusto and I support the effort and encourage you to organize events. To publicise your events post your event on the 100,000 Poets for Change Facebook Communication Page and on The BeZine 100TPC Facebook Discussion Page. I’ll do my best to catch all and post them to The Poet by Day Facebook Page and The Bardo Group Beguines (publisher of The BeZine) Facebook Page. Post to  Evelyn’s Facebook Page as well.  March 21 is also World Poetry Day.


NATIONAL SCHOOL WALKOUT

Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.

Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school.

Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day.

We are not safe at school. We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020.

Join us in saying #ENOUGH!

Add your event to the map or find one near you here: https://www.actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/enough-national-school-walkout


THE RESISTANCE POETRY WALL

A reminder about this. I just noticed no one’s posted since October 2017.  Go for it. Have your say.

100tpc20122

The RESISTANCE POETRY WALL “We want your poems! Share this information.”

A MESSAGE FROM 100TPC cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion.

“The RESISTANCE POETRY WALL has been opened in response to the call by many for an open place to post poetry about the recent USA elections. Poets from around the world are invited to post. Feel free to share this link. Post your poems in the comment box at the bottom of the page. Your poem will appear on the WALL in approximately 1 hour.”

En Español:
“Se ha abierto el MURO DE POESÍA EN RESISTENCIA como respuesta al reclamo de muchos por un espacio abierto donde publicar poesía relacionada con las recientes elecciones en los Estados Unidos. Se invita a poetas de todo el mundo a publicar aquí. Por favor compartan esta liga. Entren a la página y peguen sus poemas en la caja de comentario (‘comment’), al calce. Su poema apareceré en el MURO en aproximadamente 1 hora.”

“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.”


I AM NOT A SILENT POET

UK POET, REUBEN WOOLLEY hosts a zine, I Am Not a Silent Poet, and a Facebook Discussion Page. You may post to the later and submit to the zine.  There are already some anti-gun violence/pro-legislation pieces shared. Check them out.

“I am not a silent poet welcomes quality poems of protest. We have been seeing such increasing evidence of abuse recently that we felt it was time to do something. I am not a silent poet looks for poems about abuse in any of its forms: colour, gender, disability, the dismantlement of the care services, the privatisation of health services, the rape culture, FGM, our girls in Nigeria are just some of the examples that come to mind at the moment. It is not a site for rants.

“Please send all contributions for consideration to: reubenwoolley52@gmail.com. I would prefer attachments (especially for poems with unusual formatting and graphic material. You can add a brief biographical note and/or link to your website or blog.” Reuben Woolley



ABOUT THE POET BY DAY