Thursday, September 15, 2011

Changing the World, One Poem at a Time

Since last spring, I have been getting to know a group of poets from all over the world on Facebook, thanks to the efforts of San Francisco Bay-area poet, Michael Rothenberg, and his amazing project, 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

For months now, Michael and his partner, Terri Carrion, have been spreading the word around the world, cheering us all on, inspiring, encouraging, connecting, and promoting the idea that poetry has the power to change us for the better. The plan is to hold the largest simultaneous poetry reading in the world on September 24. There are over 600 individual events planned in 450 cities in 95 countries. This truly boggles the mind.

Each day, those of us who took on the mantle of "organizer" receive communications from Michael that alert us to new cities that have signed on. Today, we read on the "Hub" of the addition of "Liguria, Italy! Belleville, Ontario, Canada! Marlboro, VT! Bath, Great Britain! Ames, Iowa!"
In Sheboygan, the editors of Stoneboat are teaming up with Mead Public Library, Bookworm Gardens, Paradigm Coffee and Music, the Great Lakes Writers Festival, and Seems Magazine / Word of Mouth Press to present a day of poetry intended to remind the community of the transformative power of words. The poet laureate of Wisconsin, Bruce Dethlefsen will read at 10:00 a.m. at the library, and other Wisconsin poets will join us throughout the day including Cathryn Cofell, Chuck Rybak, and Karl Elder. There is an open mic reading from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Paradigm. That means open to everyone! If you don't write poetry you can read a poem by someone else. Or you can just listen. Check here for a complete schedule of the day.

Elsewhere in Wisconsin, there are events in Milwaukee and Madison. Check the official website for more information about events all around the world.

It is hard to express what is like to look at amazing promotional posters made by artists in Macedonia or to read the words of poets in Mexico, Greece, Nigeria, Chile, Australia, India, not to mention cities all over the U.S. on a daily basis. The scope of the project is huge and the energy is palpable.

One could almost imagine that the world is on the verge of changing, one poem at a time.

And, one last treat to inspire you, if you are not already moved, check out this video collaboration between Ellis Ebakor (Warri, Nigeria), Larry Weiss (Nashville) and Terri Carrion.

I hope to see you and 100,000 other poets for change somewhere in the world on September 24!
All the best,

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