Compassionate Poetry Projects courtesy of The Grass Roots Poetry Group, White Rat Press, and Silva Merjanian


Not only do some poets use their work to raise the general consciousness but they often donate their work to help fund worthy efforts. Here are three collections that have been featured here before in greater depth. I believe you’ll appreciate  should you decide to read them.

A bit of research reveals there are many other such published collections or anthologies in process. As just two examples, I found one for asthma awareness and another to help support a local ambulance service.

If there’s a cause you’d like to support through poetry, rummage around the Internet or consider producing a collection or anthology yourself.  Not easy work, I know, but you might enjoy it and it would surely be rewarding.


John Anstie whose poem was featured yesterday is a member of The Grass Roots Poetry Group, a collaboration that created and published Petrichor Rising. The proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to UNICEF. The backstory is Petrichor Rising  and how the Twitterverse birthed friendships that in turn birthed a poetry collection. You’ll find links in that feature to purchase the book. John is also one of the earliest members of The BeZine team.


One day some time ago a few books arrived in my mailbox from Anne Stewart of  poetry p f and  Second Light Network of Women Poets Founder, Dilys Wood. Among the books was an anthology that deserved special attention: Hands & Wings, Poems for Freedom from Torture (White Rat Press, 2015).  For information to purchase contact: dorothy.yamamoto@whiteratpress.co.uk. Dorothy Yamamoto is a poet and the editor of this collection. The poems in it are freely shared by A-list poets. The proceeds from the sale of the collection go to help with the rehabilitation and support of torture victims seeking protection in the U.K.


When last I chatted with Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, she’d raised $682.70 for Mer Doon Inc. from the proceeds of Rumor (Cold Water Press, 2015). Mer Doon is an organization that houses orphaned eighteen-year-old girls aging out of care. This support gives the girls a chance to become financially independent and safe from human traffickers. So far the sales of Rumor have  generated over $5,000 for charities. Quite remarkable. If you buy the book directly from Silva’s site (as opposed to Amazon), all proceeds go to these charities. Rumor won the 2015 Best Book Award in the poetry category from the NABE. Three poems from the book were nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  It is Silva’s second published collection.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Opportunities, Events and Other Information and News

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CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

Opportunity Knocks

HERMENEUTIC CHAOS LITERARY JOURNAL publishes six issues a year and reviews submissions year round, including poetry, fiction and artwork. Details HERE.

GREEN LINDEN PRESS is reviewing submissions of poetry.  It’s a new magazine and this will be the second issue. There is a reading free of $2.  Details HERE.

BLUE MARBLE PRESS is a quarterly literary magazine for youth ages thirteen – twenty. It reviews submissions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art on a rolling basis. Details HERE.

THE CAPRA REVIEW is biannual and publishes fiction, nonfiction and art. Submissions are reviewed on a rolling basis.  Details HERE.

FIVE ON THE FIFTH, an online lit mag, publishes five short stories on the fifth of each month. They accept flash fiction, general fiction, horror, science fiction, and fantasy with a maximum word count of 5,000. Details HERE.

CONTEST

Opportunity Knocks

NEW YORK ENCOUNTER Poetry Contest “to celebrate the theme of its 2017 event. The Encounter is an annual three-day public cultural event in the heart of New York City. It strives to witness to the new life and knowledge generated by the faith, following Pope Benedict’s claim that ‘the intelligence of faith has to become the intelligence of reality.’ The Encounter’s poetry contest invites all poets writing in English to submit up to 3 poems (maximum 30 lines each), related in some way to the theme, Reality Has Never Betrayed Me.  Guest judge is poet, translator, editor, and essayist Christian Wiman,” the former editor of Poetry. Deadline: November 1st. Details HERE.

EVENTS

14355065_1147003192026877_873369593837549476_nOctober 21 at 7:30 PM, Stellar Gallery 202 23rd Sacramento, California Keynote Poetry Group is proud to host Michael Ellis in a Politically Incorrect evening of Poetry. He will share poems that are intimate and usually too much for a General audience. Ellis will speak on Police Killings, Read a poem dedicated to Trayvon Martin.. He will speak on Domestic violence in a sad poem titled Daddy’s Little Girl.He will perform a Rap version of “Have You Seen her” originally by the Chi-lites and he will top that off with one of his most popular poems, Jazz Legends..Readers will see why he is so endeared by level four inmates… THE BLACK PENIS poem is highly controversial but Socially Responsible..and some may want to leave the room for fresh air when he reads this poem…No further details on this one…And you will also hear the Uncle Tom Poem, one of his latest poems.. And there might be a few surprises somewhere.. Refreshments will be provided by KEYNOTE POETS so bring your thirst…”

BLANK SPACE OPEN MIC Thursday, September 29 at 6:30 PM – 10:30 PM at the Bookmunch Cafe Bay Square, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This event is part of 100TPC. The Facebook page for it is HERE.

14390699_10202262032910271_3088773105239882108_nBOOK LAUNCH/POETRY READING, Saturday, October 8 at 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. EDT, The Hamilton Guesthouse, 148 Mary Street, Hamilton, Ontario L8L 4V8. “John Wall Barger will be launching his new book, The Book of Festus (Palimpsest Press), at the Pring on October 8, 2016, with fellow writers Autumn Getty, Lucas Kolthof, and Chris Pannell. The evening will also feature an open mic for those who would like to come and perform their own poetry or music.” More details on the Facebook page for this event HERE.

TIDBIT

Silva Zanoyan Merjanian’s Rape of Arevik read by the inimitable Eabha Rose. The music is They Have Taken the One I Love by Levon Minassian. If you are reading the Sunday Poesy from an email subscription you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view the video.

THE POET BY DAY SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS

Submit your event, book launch and other announcements at least fourteen days in advance to thepoetbyday@gmail.com. Publication is subject to editorial discretion.

“BEIRUT” by Silva Merjanian

Beirut

Over there
all that happened
(and didn’t happen)
folded
packed in mental mothballs
stories fading with licked creases
some reduced and softer versions

wonder why I preserve breaths
forced through my lungs in those days
stringed around the eye of a hurricane
circling, demonic, nameless
shaking me shameless for a day

on nights when a collective sigh stings
and I can’t tell
which tale will toll for me
and which nocturnal howl
will lift the dust

through endless times
relive slivers
on a pink tip of my tongue
afraid to bite a dreamt memory
that it might hemorrhage
bleed the night

I want a dripping whiff of that afternoon coffee
instinctively bitter, solemnity and hot
ten minutes when lonely hearts
willed an arching cease fire
and time hovered among us
long enough for my mother
to build castles in my cup

over there
the man flying his doves
on the roof across two streets
remains a blur
but the doves stirring the air
in perfect shades of unison
(I had named them after heroes long forgot)
sometimes still raise dust in my room
of their feathers’ aches and plight

I believed then
I could break away
would break away

I did one day
the doves were left to die

over there
at dusk my father played the mandolin
and my mother’s voice filled all the gaps
between our breaths –
the dam that held surpluses of war
long enough for us to shed in dreams

why do I long for hell
on nights
when I can’t sieve my sigh from the wind’s eye
and I wonder if I ever broke away
from a circle named dead doves

perhaps
scent of jasmine
still smells like home
back home in the rain

© Silva Merjanian

Excerpt from the 2015 collection, Rumor, reviewed and published along with an interview of Silva Merjanian HERE. Beirut is published today with the permission of the poet and is under copyright.

CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (19): Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, Borrowed Sugar Borrowed Time – from war-torn Lebanon to peace in California

Armenian/Lebanese American poet, Silva Zanoyan Merjanian

Silva Zanoyan Merjanian

Silva Zanoyan Merjanian is an Armenian ethnic who was born in Lebanon. She escaped the civil war there and lived for a time in Geneva, ultimately settling to build a family life in California. Silva has two published collections. Most recently Rumor (Cold Water Press, 2015), which received the Best Book Award from NABE in the 2015. Three poems from Rumor were nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Silva’s first collection is Uncoil a Night (CreateSpace, 2013).

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Falling

In rind of wishes sticky on lips
and sermons’ echo on facepsalms slipping
in envies squirted on spruce and cedar
whims twirling, spiraled, speckled
gossamer visions of friendships withered
in crevices of an upbeat mien
Your name hidden in prayer embers
I mend among buds of poems
flying on a trapeze
with no one at the other end

Rumor is a stunning tour de force of passionate, life-affirming poetry. Silva Merjanian evokes time and place with both grace and authority. Poetry is obviously a tool for her own healing and in that she brings us face to face with the human condition in all its complexity, beautiful and loving and devastating cruel, and she does so totally without pretension.

Mornings arriving
Me alone
Poems half written and done
Poems between toes and toast
‘Round Midnight and Monk
Nostalgia
Right reasons
Brave decisions
Thoughts that glow in the light
Just love
Always, in absence of rats and such
fresh sheets and I
between over and under

from Between the Sheets

She writes with immediacy of war:

bounce of gold crosses between breasts
colorful hijabs ’round others’ bare face
friendships seeded in borrowed sugar, borrowed time
she, unaware of borrowed wailers on their way
makes plans on a sunny balcony as she hangs
her blue jeans on a clothesline
moments before war drums ripple through crisp calm

from Borrowed Sugar Borrowed Time

INTERVIEW

JAMIE:  Silva, Rumor is a remarkable collection with many poems that stay with one. It’s also quite generous of you to donate proceeds to the Syrian-Amenian Relief Fund (SARF). How are sales going and how is the fundraising?

SILVA: Thank you Jamie. I did not have an event or a formal fundraising with Rumor. The sales were a result of readings, speeches, word of mouth and some ads in newspapers and on Facebook. In July there will be an ad for it in Poets & Writers and it will also be included in five book fairs this summer.

My publisher, Dave Boles of Cold River Press, will release the e-book version soon. He is kind enough to donate all proceeds from the e-book also to the SARF. So with all these developments I expect a boost in sales.

JAMIE: When did you fall in love with poetry? When did you realize you are a poet?

SILVA: I am a late bloomer. I started writing in 2011 and my first book was released in 2013. Even though we grew up with the poetry of Shakespeare, Keats, etc.. and many Armenian poets, the thought of writing poetry hadn’t occurred to me. My education is in Business Administration not Fine Art. It was almost like catching the bug of poetry, very unexpected, once I started writing I couldn’t stop. I didn’t write to be published at first, it was just for the pleasure of it, later when I saw friends publishing books, the idea came to me to publish and make it count for something by donating the proceeds.

JAMIE: What are the reactions to your work that surprise you most?

SILVA: I didn’t expect the level of appreciation for my poetry that I received. Especially from those who themselves write and/or are well read in poetry. I have to thank the Irish first for this recognition. They have such talented poets and they recognized my potential first.

I also didn’t expect the difficulty to be accepted as a writer in the Armenian community. It was almost like they waited for me to be respected in the foreign circles before they’d acknowledge me, instead of reading my work and appreciating it themselves. I am disappointed in that respect.

JAMIE: Tell us something about your travels: How did your family arrive in Lebanon and why did they move from there. How did you end up in the U.S.?

SILVA:  My grandparents had to flee their homes twice, trying to survive the Armenian Genocide. If you are familiar with the book The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Austrian -Bohemian writer Franz Werfel, first published in German in 1933, it is the story of my grandparents. The French helped the population of seven villages escape and relocate as refugees in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. So my grandparents did live under refugee tents for a whole year. Now the area is a buzzing town with three churches and schools and commerce.

I left Lebanon after experiencing eight years of the civil war*. Geneva was the city I healed from the war scars. Later I settled in California to raise my sons with my husband.

JAMIE: What do you think most Westerners don’t understand about the Middle East? What do you know and understand that you would like everyone to know?

SILVA: What most don’t understand about Lebanon, and to a degree parts of the Middle East, is that the vast majority of the people are just the nicest fun loving, peace loving, hard working families. They want for their children everything an American family wants. The number of innocent people who are collateral damage to the events in that part of the world is just heartbreaking.

JAMIE: I understand that your brother is a novelist. Does your family have a history of poets and writers?

SILVA: My brother has two volumes of poetry in Armenian. He is writing his third novel. I am not aware of anyone else in my family who has published books, except a volume of translations by my father.

JAMIE:  You have two well-received collections completed. Where to now?

SILVA:  That’s a question I’ve been asking myself. I think I will keep writing and hope a third book will be in the future for me.

* Lebanese Civil War – 1975-1990

© 2016, portrait, poems, bookcover art and responses to questions, Silva Merjanian, All rights reserved