Michael Rothenberg and The Ecosound Ensemble live at The Moon – Word of South 2019

I took this photo at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, CA. Michael is the gentleman in the hat and Terri is the lovely woman with the camera. Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion are cofounders of 100tpc. If you came up in the ’60s and especially if you are a Beat fan, you’ll recognize others in the photograph.

Michael Rothenberg is an American poet, songwriter, editor, and active environmentalist. Born inMiami Beach, Florida, Rothenberg received his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Afterward, he moved to California in 1976, where he began “Shelldance Orchid Gardens”, an orchid and bromeliad nursery. In 2016, Rothenberg moved to Tallahassee, Florida. In 1993 he received his MA in Poetics at New College of California. In 1989, Rothenberg and artist Nancy Davis began Big Bridge Press, a fine print literary press, publishing works by Jim Harrison, Joanne Kyger, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen and others. Rothenberg is editor of Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry. Rothenberg is also co-editor and co-founder of Jack Magazine.


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SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER, a crucial role for poets in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse

“Pithy and powerful, poetry is a popular art form at protests and rallies. From the civil rights and women’s liberation movements to Black Lives Matter, poetry is commanding enough to gather crowds in a city square and compact enough to demand attention on social media. Speaking truth to power remains a crucial role of the poet in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse.” MORE, Poetry Foundation



OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS, I’m inviting all Facebook friends – and this post is an open invitation – whether you are poets or not – to Like 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change 2018 GLOBAL EVENT. Of course, there’s no obligation to do so, however given the state of the world at this time, it’s important to throw our energy and support behind this effort. It sends out a message to those who . . . 

  • use their power to harm people, culture and environment,
  • to the folks on the run who don’t know we care, and
  • to each other that we are together – have one another – in support of PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY & SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Really I think we outnumber the bad guys. We just don’t get the press. We have to make our own. 

FROM MICHAEL ROTHENBERG:

“Do you want to join other poets, musicians, artists, mimes, dancers, photographers, performing artists, clerics, and friends of the arts around the USA and across the planet in a demonstration/celebration of poetry to promote serious social, environmental, and political change?

“September 29th is the global 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day, 2018!

“This is our 8th year!

“If you would like to organize an event in your community, join us here and write to us directly to register your event at

Sign up:
http://100tpc.org/sign-up/

– Michael Rothenberg, Co-founder of 100TPC with Terri Carrion


UNIQUE EVENT AS PART OF 100,000 POETS (and friends) for Change 2018, Global

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) / Play) and others are organizing a 100TPC event in Jerusalem during Sukkot this year. Sukkot is a harvest holiday celebrated in temporary structures (a sukkah, singular; sukkot, plural) to commemorate the time when the Jews wandered in the wilderness. It is traditional to eat meals and sleep in the sukkot during the week of the holiday. The plan is to offer poetry, shared food, and comfort in one or more sukkah in Jerusalem in the spirit of peace, justice, and sustainability. More details to come. This year Sukkot ends during the weekend of 100TPC Global, 2018.

Connect with Michael HERE on Facebook for more information if you want to help with and/or attend the Sukkot event. You can also leave a message for Michael Dickel here at The Poet by Day in the comments section below. I’ll make sure he sees it.

Non-Jews living in and near Jerusalem are welcome.

This event in Jerusalem suggests another way to organize around 100TPC, which could be emulated elsewhere. What holy days or feast days are celebrated in your tradition near September 29, 100TPC Global 2018? Or, do as Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) did one year: 100,000 Peacemakers for Change. Egypt did 100,000 Mimes for Change. There have been 100,000 Drummers for Change … and Musicians and Photographers as well. All these registered their events with 100,000 Poets for Change. Our only limits are a lack of energy, imagination and passion, so rev up your engines and let’s do it …

Let’s do it … and, let’s get the word out with Joy! Gratitude! Caring! Sharing!

If you are organizing a registered 100TPC event in your area, I’m happy to include details about your event on The Poet by Day if you send your announcement to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and  California Woman.

PEN AMERICA’S $10,000 Writing for Justice Fellowship will commission six writers …

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Elie Wiesel



Applications for the Pen America Writing for Justice Fellowship must be filed by July 1, 2018.  This fellowship “aims to harness the power of writers and writing in bearing witness to the societal consequences of mass incarceration by capturing and sharing the stories of incarcerated individuals, their families, communities, and the wider impact of the criminal justice system.  Our goal is to ignite a broad, sustained conversation about the dangers of over-incarceration and the imperative to mobilize behind rational and humane policies.” Details and link to application HERE.

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Back to the Future: Building Beloved Community, The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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This is Unitarian Universalist Minister Rev. Ben Meyers’ sermon celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday and delivered to our congregation on Sunday, January 15.

Rev. Ben Meyers of San Mateo, California

Rev. Ben Meyers of San Mateo, California

Yesterday, this congregation opened its heart and its doors to our neighbors and friends for the twenty-eighth consecutive year of celebrating this holiday, which commemorates the life and legacy of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. We organize this event in conjunction with the Annual Essay, Poetry and Art Contest. This contest, which honors the Rev. Dr. King, Jr.’s legacy, is sponsored each year by the North Central Neighborhood Association, of which we are a part and which has been a strong community alliiance for thirty-four years.

The contest is an Institution within our city and county. It is the foundational piece of a curriculum for many teachers in the San Mateo school district who use this contest as a platform (and launching pad) for teaching about the legacy of Rev. King and the history of the civil rights movement. It is a tradition that instills a sense of pride in us. It was initiated two years before King’s birthday became a national holiday in this country.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1928)

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1928)

In discussing the many elements of today’s service, our Worship Leader joked, saying that with all its many activities and high level of participation, this service would resemble “A Happening” harkening back to the 60s and 70s…Now for those of you who weren’t around in the 60s or maybe don’t remember them…”A Happening” was similar to what we now call “Flash Mobs”…and for those of you who don’t know what a flash mob is…its like “A Happening” from the 60’s or 70’s. Sorta like…Woodstock. 😉

A happening, in other words, was a significant event that was not precisely planned but that organically emerged from the moment, usually by necessity or simply out of the spirit of the moment. We are beginning to see the spirit of “Happenings” repeating themselves with the coming ‘peaceful but resistant’ transfer of power from the ending of the Obama administration to the start of the new President’s administration.

In many ways, we, as a nation, are heading ‘back to the future’, repeating ourselves. We are, it would seem to me, to be going “Back to the future”, as in that movie from the 80s. We are going back to the future not only because we sense or fear that our country is poised to take a few steps backwards in the realm of human dignity and civil rights, but also because we have a strong sense that in order to counter these backward steps, we would do well to return to the roots of our struggle for human rights in this country. This will restore our convictions as a foundation in the battle for the future of our country — a battle for its heart and soul.

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The theme for this year’s MLK Poetry, Essay and Art contest was, “Beloved Community: What does it mean to you?” I was pleased that the committee adopted this topic. It was my hope that it would entice and inspire our students to – not only focus on this phrase “Beloved Community” – the centerpiece in Rev. King’s work- but to bridge the divide in this nation caused by the triple threats of poverty, racism, and militarism. I also hope they will identify with the roots of this ideal. I hope that they learn this is not something that King alone created, but that it was an idea that preceded him and one that has a rich history of inspiring many justice-makers in this county.

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And so I decided that I would base our annual MLK Sunday service on this same theme as we honor a man who was more than just an inspiration to us in this country and the leader of the Great Civil Rights struggle of the 20th century, but one who continues to be the source and hope for the Dream of American Justice and the building of Beloved Community in the 21st Century.

I think it is also important that we look back to know where we have come from, to see  that what we face now is not entirely new terrain, and to understand that as we plow ahead into the struggle to create more Beloved Community in the face of current disharmony, hatred, and divisiveness.

Josiah Royce (1855-1916)

Josiah Royce (1855-1916)

The phrase “Beloved Community” was coined in the early 20th Century by the Unitarian Theologian and Philosopher, Josiah Royce, who was also one of the founders of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest, oldest inter/multi-faith peace and justice organizations in the United States. It was established in 1915. [worth looking up: forusa.org]. He was a teacher and mentor to some of the most progressive minds of his time, like T.S. Eliot, George Santanyana and W.E.B. DuBois.

Josiah Royce’s writing influenced many prominent Social Reformers of his time, including the young Martin Luther King, Jr. Royce wrote:

“Since the office [or purpose] of religion is to aim towards the creation on earth of the Beloved Community [ …] the future task of religion is the task of inventing and applying the arts which will win all over to unity, and which shall overcome their original hatefulness by gracious love, not of mere individuality, but of communities.” The result, said Royce, “is the creation of heaven on earth, a form of [beloved] community we work to create marked by unity and gracious love.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., a member of the same Fellowship of Reconciliation, where he learned the teachings of Josiah Royce, brought the phrase into more common use, comparing the creation of Beloved Community to redemption and reconciliation among all people. Dr. King saw it as a source of powerful change from the disharmony and disparity of HIS day to the harmony and equality he sought to create. You can hear these ideals echoed in King’s words when he said:

“It is the spirit of Beloved Community and this type of [agape] love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of people…The goal of creating a beloved community for all people, will require a qualitative change in our souls  as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1957

In his struggle to bring greater justice and equality into the world, King was not simply targeting legislation for desegregation, he was after a transformation in the hearts of all people so that we might learn to live and love together as one people, as a Beloved Community. An all encompassing Beloved Community was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s end goal.

While the specific point of struggle began around racism in America, he also spoke out and marched and protested against war and poverty, fighting against all injustice and oppression. He was working to create a Beloved Community based on equality and justice for all.

It is now our turn to continue his work. Our responsiblity goes beyond the historical perspective of instilling the legacy and the message of building beloved community among our young people through activities like our Annual Essay, Poetry and Art contest. His work must be OUR own daily work with and within the greater community. We must continue doing what we have done for so long with renewed vigor and purpose and the intention of bringing it into a world that is threateningly poised to dismantle the very gains that we cherish, which we cannot take for granted.

img_6595Unless we rise in body and spirit and resist, unless we insist on the persistence of the values we hold dear, which are really the cornerstone of our faith and our nation, we will lose them. Now more than ever, we are called to heed the words of the Rev. Dr. King, who, amid the challenges of his time and against the voices of hatred and intolerance that are with us still, said:

“This is where we are. Where do we go from here? First, we must massively assert our dignity and worth. We must stand up amidst a system that still oppresses, and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of values…”

What is needed is a recognition that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

Let us stand on the side of love…Amen.

– Rev. Benjamin Walker Meyers

Benediction: Words of Martin Luther King, Jr., adapted, Rev. Ben Meyers
A time like this demands great leaders;
Leaders whom the lust of office does not kill;
Leaders whom the spoils of life cannot buy;
Leaders who possess opinions and a will;
Leaders who have honor;
Leaders who will not lie!
A time like this demands people who can stand before a demagogue (and damn…treacherous flatteries) without winking!
Brave and courageous people, crowned by the sun, who live above the fog, in public duty and private thinking) and who will seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with their Gods…
Let us be those people!