...the answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind.
– B. Dylan
I don’t know about you, but I am of the opinion that we are getting close to the end of our proverbial rope with things like religion, politics, and the economy. I don’t know how to fight the good fight any more. In fact, I don’t want to fight. I want to love things, love people, love the earth. That is so darn naïve of me, isn’t it? It is so flippin’ sixties. Make love not war and all that crap.
Yeah, well, guess what? I was born in 1960, so I am a child of the 60s. I recently heard the “evolutionary evangelist,” Michael Dowd (Thank God for Evolution) speak on his theory of reality, biological history, and the evolvement of human nature. One of the things he talked about is how a child’s reality is shaped by whatever steady diet she is fed. Makes perfect sense to me. When I was growing up, my reality was listening to Walter Cronkite every evening on the six o’clock news report the body count for that day. I saw both my parents deeply saddened by this. They taught me that war is wrong and that people had to learn to live in peace. “C’mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together try to love one another right now.”
Dowd’s basic premise is that as we all become more conscious, we will start to see ourselves as the earth becoming more conscious of itself. We are like a collective immune system, and we will naturally work to right things in the system because it is to our (and everyone else’s) benefit to do so. We R the Universe. The Universe is us.
If you lived through Woodstock, no matter how young you were, you can't possibly forget Joni Mitchell's admonition that lines up really well with current theories in astrophysics: “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” I never went to Yasgur's farm, but I sure feel like I did. (Sidenote: it was seeing Woodstock at a drive-in movie theater in 1960-whatever with my parents that I got to hear a certain "bad word" for the very first time: Gimme an F...Gimme a U....aw, you know the rest.)
What the hell does all this have to do with poetry you may ask? Well, first of all, I told you at the beginning of the week that I might try to tell you how poetry changed my life. I decided I can’t do that justice in seven blog posts or less. But let me just say, in my late 40s when I finally started to pay attention to the voices inside my head, poetry woke me up to myself and helped me get more in line with ME and what I am here for: to help people through expression: mine and theirs. Me=We.
I am 110% positive that it is not the politicians or the scientists who will save the planet. I mean, they will, but they will only do it when they do it with the sensitivity and wisdom of the poets. Only when each person becomes aware of their poet-nature will we begin to swing the critical mass away from hate and mistrust to love and compassion. We need the words of the elders, the lovers, the men in prison, the enlightened, and the dispossessed. We need them all.
So, go write some poetry. Teach someone else to write some poetry. Share what you have written, and not just through the time-honored, traditional channels. Leave a poem in the subway. Hand a poem to a stranger. Recite a poem to your co-workers at lunchtime. The time has come for a bold, new naïveté. We can be smart, but if our smartness destroys us, then it was freakin’ stupid, wasn’t’ it?
Let’s be smart in a new way, in a poetry way. Here is my “How Poetry Will Change the World” primer to inspire you to action:
Louder Than A Bomb
This award-winning documentary from directors Greg Jacobs and John Siskel tells the story of four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in the world's largest youth slam. Rob Thomas of The Capital Times says, “Louder Than a Bomb ignites the power of poetry.”
Poems About Wisconsin Protests
Throughout the continuing turmoil in the state of Wisconsin, the editors of Verse Wisconsin stepped forward to create a forum inviting all sides in the question to converse through poetry, prose, songs, and visual art. You can read a story about the project on the Poetry Foundation blog and visit Verse Wisconsin on Facebook.
100,000 Poets for Change
On September 24, 2011, poets all over the world will participate in a global poetry experience. Events are being planned in 135 cities in the U.S.A. and seventy countries around the world. Follow on Facebook or check the blog to see all the locations and learn what is being done. In Sheboygan, we’ll be at Paradigm Coffee and Music, reading and Skyping. Come see us! Check the link above to plan an event in your own city.
“Writing a poem does not change the world. Learning about new people and understanding new people and really feeling inspired by people who are very different than you…I would like to say that’s changing the world, and if not, then it's definitely coming much, much closer.”
-- Adam Gottlieb, Louder Than a Bomb
I know, I’m not saying anything new here and I know that some people will find me a bit daft. But, you know what? I'm a child of the sixties. So give me a fucking break.
You've stuck it out with me a long time on this post. If you have just four more minutes, please watch this "voice-enhanced" presentation, and take joy in knowing that we all come from the same cosmic dandruff.