The Premier of"Modlin Songs"
"Modlin Songs," an original piece for orchestra & voice by composer Robert Gross, featuring three of my poems as text.
featuring Sharon Campbell
David Nabb & Alison Gaines
National Poetry Month, 2022
Reading hosted by the University of Southern California Literary Society
Sun 4/10, 2pm EST, Zoom
We're All Poets workshop
"Hosted by bestselling authors and poetry-nerds Jennifer Pastiloff and Kristen McGuiness, We’re All Poets is a quarterly workshop where live reading, craft-talk, free write and group share come together to remind us that it doesn’t matter who we are or what we do in this world, we’re all poets."
Maybe we met at the previous We're All Poets, led by Naomi Shihab Nye.
If you can't make this one, next is Maggie Smith, then Brenda O’Shaughnessy.
Wed 4/20 3pm EST, Zoom, free
Mindful Poetry Moments
"The Well & The On Being Project collaborate for the fourth year to bring Mindful Poetry Moments to schools, individuals, & social service organizations for free during National Poetry Month." Every Wednesday. Events are thoughtful & fun. After a mindfulness meditation, we read a poem & write our own responses.
Once again I'll lead a workshop. This time, the organizers asked me to use my own poem, “On the Last Day of the Semester, the Library Is So Crowded with Raucous Historical and Literary Figures It’s Hard to Tell People Apart."
Every day in April, free
Poetry readings emailed to you
30 Poets in 30 Days. Larksong Writers Place has video-recorded poets giving 5-10-minute readings. Debra Marquart, Allison Hedge Coke, Hilda Raz, Sue William Silverman, yours truly, & 25 more.
The follow-up to the best selling How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope comes out this month. I'm happy to have a poem part of it, with a reflective prompt responding to it. (Order here.)
What You Missed that Day You Were Absent
This show at the Marisa Newman gallery in Brooklyn, NY took its title from my poem & featured Natasha Sweeten's abstract expressionist painting titled “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade.”
Reflecting on pandemic isolation, Sweeten created work both individually & in collaboration with others.
Giving a reading at the exhibit's conclusion let me see the thoughtful, varied works she & collaborators had made.
One piece was a flag at the rooftop of a busy intersection.
I was invited to create the four-word poem in response.
This Is a Poem
The Buxton Contemporary Art Gallery at University of Melbourne (Australia) commissioned me for its This Is a Poem show. Poets from Australia & the world wrote in conversation with visual art. I chose Tracey Moffatt's captivating photoseries Scarred for Life. Gallery curators hung her captioned photos, and a recording of my poem "Compassion" played overhead in the space.
Some of the Photos
Scissor Cut, 1980
For punishment the Kwong sisters were
forced to cut the front lawn with scissors.
Her father's nickname
for her was useless.
Because compassion means “suffering with,”
you must learn it. What you depended on
must crumple up like newspaper in a bonfire.
You must look into the liar’s smile and say,
honestly, “I trust you.” The window will break
into your hand. An authority will laugh at you
without so much as covering his mouth.
You must lose your grandmother’s watch
in the move, or you must never meet her
at all. The cut must leave a mark everyone can gawk at.
You must watch as the church where you finally believed
burns on TV. You must sense people like you
are not supposed to be in this room, and you
must force yourself to stay seated, to clutch
that metal chair until it cuts into your palms.
You must wonder if your father
actually likes you, if your parents
thought they made a mistake.
You have to be picked last, and picked last
again. You must find the first cupboard empty,
the final airplane full, the funeral too
early. You must have your secret stolen
and passed around the jungle gym,
or a veterinarian must tell you, “I’m sorry.”
The lightning of just-a-statistic must strike
the soft spot of your head, the spot
that used to give off that indescribable
baby smell. I’m speaking to that baby
now, and to that adult. I’m speaking to me
until I believe it. I’m speaking to the part
of you that lived
through the very worst day of your life
and kept living the next day too:
Every sorrow, no matter how
impossible or small, is preparation,
is a gift to the next person who will need you.