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

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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.