Tonight I had the pleasure of wishing my amazing friend Ann Keeler Evans a happy birthday. Last night I introduced you to Ann, but if you’ve been around here for a while you’ve probably seen her poetry readings before. She told someone at dinner tonight that she and I started the “Poetry Under the Paintings” group, which was her typical kind and gracious self. The truth is she had the vision and got the ball rolling. She knew I’d love the idea, and jump in with both feet. Head first was more like it. She’s a visionary, my friend Ann, and she’s also my minister. I only hesitated on that because I really do need to show up in church more often.
I did introduce you last night to Ann’s peace poems, but I haven’t yet told you about one of the very cool things she is currently involved in, aside from poetry. You do know that there are still people working to recover from Hurricane Sandy, right? Six months after the storm and still work to be done. Our local Susquehanna Valley Unitarian Universalist congregation is working with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Staten Island and others to help with cleanup, as well as providing gift cards to families there for groceries and needed supplies.
They’re also loading up a bus (which was graciously donated), and heading for Staten Island on May 25th with workers for the day. Not only that, but some damn fine musicians have donated their time to come along for a bit of a May Faire with food and games to help bring some cheer to the relief workers on Staten Island that day.
You can read all about it on the “Love Flows” Facebook page, and even make a donation via paypal or credit card by clicking on the donate button. Don’t have Facebook? Just click here for the info, and here to donate. Thank you!
But back to the poetry side of my relationship with Ann. She’s been working on something new and very important, a body of work that focuses on abuse within families. I almost hate to call it domestic violence, though I know that term has its legal and medical uses. It just feels too careful, as if we were trying to sanitize something very ugly, as if it is less serious than other violence, something domesticated, almost tame. But violence directed at those who should feel safe in our presence is perhaps the most horrific kind.
I recently had the good fortune to hear Ann read from this growing collection at the Priestly Memorial Chapel, and I was impressed by how vivid these pieces were, striking yet sincere, emotional but not maudlin. One particular poem called “Putting an End to Reflections” seemed to remove the very blood from my body. For various reasons, I do not think that I can read it. Hopefully I can bring you video of Ann reading these in her own voice eventually. We do need to face these terrors, so that we can face them down. It’s the only way to overcome the darkness. Pretending it doesn’t happen has never worked. I am in awe of her for her bravery, immeasurably proud of the work she does, and unspeakably grateful to her for calling me friend.
For my reading tonight I chose from this collection something reflective though somber. It’s not a survivor piece, but it needs to be heard. It’s called “If I Were Someone Else.”
- Staten Island Sandy victims get free prom dresses (pix11.com)
- Unitarian Universalists see chance for growth in growth of secularism (richarddawkins.net)
- David Reads “Making Peace” by Denise Levertov (dadpoet.wordpress.com)
- David Reads “Any Case” for Day 20, by Wislawa Szymborska (dadpoet.wordpress.com)