“Bashers” Offer Heartfelt Wish for the World

The Poetry of Presence Book Bash was held at the Brookings (SD) Arts Council this past Saturday. In addition to great music by Green & Snow and delicious food, we enjoyed poetry readings from the book and the drawing of whimsical door prizes. Contributing poet Marianne Murphy Zarzana joined us from Minnesota for the occasion. She not only shared her anthologized poems but had a vital role in a wonderful experiment.

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Marianne Murphy Zarzana (photo credit: James Zarzana)

During the Bash we invited everyone to jot down a wish for the world and drop it into one of the many collection bowls around the room. With about twenty minutes left in the event, we gathered all the wishes that had been offered. Marianne retreated with them to a quiet place and creatively assembled them into a community poem, which she read to conclude the Bash. It was a very powerful experience.

We want to thank Marianne for her willingness to engage in this adventure. Thanks, too, to those “Bashers” who contributed to the making of the poem, which Marianne titled “Our Wish for the World.”

We’ll be finding various ways to share this poem with the public. For now, we’re happy to share it with you. Feel free to download your own copy here. Maybe share it with a friend? Remember: “The end of the poem is just the beginning.”

 

Our Wish for the World

We wish the world would turn
from force toward feeling,

that everyone could be fed—
body, mind and soul.

We wish we could approach
our problems and conflicts
by tapping deep into our creativity.

We wish that all could feel the sun
of friendship warm upon their faces,

that we could see and speak of the beauty
around us and within all people.

We wish that we could put ourselves into the shoes
of those around us, walk at least a mile,

that kindness, compassion and peace
received more attention than
hatred and greed.

We wish our skin color and gender did not
matter, that we could all be accepted
for exactly who we are.

We wish the stuff that is no longer alive
could come back to life, resurrect.

We wish that we could learn to create
common ground rather than standing
only on our own ground.

We wish that we could transform
terror, watch it disappear,

that we could let go of all the distractions
that keep us separate and lonely.

We wish we could be grateful
for everything, and be kind
to every living creature.

We wish we could forgive ourselves
and others, and we could all
be free.

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Poet Spotlight: Judy Sorum Brown

This is part of a series highlighting some of the poets anthologized in Poetry of Presence. We thank the poets for providing the material. Today we shine the spotlight on Judy Sorum Brown.

 

POP spotlight Brown

 

Short bio: I am a poet, speaker, writer, and educator whose work focuses on leadership and the nature of change. I have designed and facilitated leadership programs and retreats for symphony orchestras, urban libraries, manufacturing plants, public schools, the federal government and those who serve elders. Along with several leadership books, I have authored three volumes of poetry, The Sea Accepts All Rivers & other poems, Simple Gifts and Steppingstones.

Thoughts about mindfulness and poetry: Those of us who are poetry lovers often collect poems that are particularly powerful reminders of the experience of being in the moment. This collection, that I am honored to be apart of, brings many examples of that kind of poetry together. If we open it to any page, it will be a resource to our path toward greater mindfulness and presence.

Website and social media:
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Barrows’s “Lessons from Darkness” Nominated for Pushcart

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Our publisher Grayson Books has announced the nominations for this year’s Pushcart Prize from among the authors and poems they’ve published in 2017.

We’re very happy to share the news that they’ve nominated a poet from Poetry of Presence: Anita Barrows for “Lessons in Darkness.” Congratulations, Anita! Well done!

The Pushcart Prize is a prestigious American literary prize published by Pushcart Press honoring the best “poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot” published in small presses over the previous year.

Kudos to the other Grayson Books Pushcart nominees for 2017:

James Finnegan: “Jacket” from Laureates of Connecticut: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (Ginny Lowe Connors & Charles Margolis, editors)

D. Walsh Gilbert: “Which Tattoo Identified My Brother?” from Ransom by D. Walsh Gilbert

H.K. Hummel: “Elizabeth Eckford’s Walk Toward Central High School” from Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry (Ginny Lowe Connors, editor)

Kerry Rawlinson: “Number 99” from Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry (Ginny Lowe Connors, editor)

Alexandrina Sergio: “Every Breath” from Laureates of Connecticut: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (Ginny Lowe Connors & Charles Margolis, editors)

Poet Spotlight: Lydia Whirlwind Soldier

This is part of a series highlighting some of the poets anthologized in Poetry of Presence. We thank the poets for providing the material. Today we shine the spotlight on Lydia Whirlwind Soldier.

 

POP Spotlight Lydia

 

Short bio: I’m Sicangu Lakota, born in Bad Nation on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. An enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and a Lakota speaker, I’m a poet, nonfiction writer, business owner and recognized craftswoman. Holding a Master’s in Education Administration from Pennsylvania State University, I also worked in education for thirty years. My collection of poems, Memory Songs, was published in 1999 by the Center for Western Studies.

Chicago Tribune Reviewer Says Our Anthology “Stirs the Soul”

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The illustration accompanying the online review.

Barbara Mahany has just penned a review of Poetry of Presence in her roundup of soulful books for The Chicago Tribune. Already online, the review will also appear in the paper’s Arts & Entertainment Section on Thursday.

“The power of poetry,” Mahany writes, “is its capacity to sneak up from behind and pry open the heart. Or the soul. It’s in that unanticipated moment when the truth of the poem rushes in and packs its indelible wallop. That’s when a poem, for some of us, becomes a prayer.” Read the rest of her column here.

We’re very grateful to Ms. Mahany for approaching us about including our anthology in her roundup. As if we would ever have turned her down!

Poet Spotlight: John Brantingham

This is part of a series highlighting some of the poets anthologized in Poetry of Presence. We thank the poets for providing the material. Today we shine the spotlight on John Brantingham.

 

POP spotlight brantingham

 

Short bio: I’m the author of seven books of poetry and fiction including The Green of Sunset. I’m currently working on a poetry collection about living in nature. I direct creative writing at Mt. San Antonio College, near Los Angeles, California.

Fun fact: During the summer months, my wife Ann and I live off grid in a van in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where we teach art and poetry in free week-long seminars.

Website and social media:

Website
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Poet Spotlight: Kimberly Blaeser

This is part of a series highlighting some of the poets anthologized in Poetry of Presence. We thank the poets for providing the material. Today we shine the spotlight on Kimberly Blaeser.

 

POP Spotlight Blaeser


Short bio:
Writer, photographer, and scholar, I’m the author of three poetry collections—most recently Apprenticed to Justice; and editor of Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. I’m a professor of Creative Writing and Native American Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and also serve on faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts low rez MFA. I was Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-16. An enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, I grew up on White Earth Reservation.

Fun fact: My current project is an evolving collection called Ancient Light, which includes ekphrastic poetry, photography, and a form for which I coined the term picto-poems—intersecting layers of text and image inspired by Native American pictographs and ledger art. The pieces bring my nature and wildlife photography together with poetry to explore intersecting ideas of Native place, nature, preservation, and spiritual sustenance. It is my hope that these images will invite reorientation as they blur the lines between place and spirit, between image and voice and being. Here is one sample from that collection.

Website and social media:

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Videos: Enjoy the videos below. On the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Facebook page you can also hear me read my poem “Manoominike-Giizis.”