I have come to the conclusion that it is quite impossible to sum up all the epiphanies that took place over five days with 80 plus poets from 21 countries.I cannot even begin to name all the dots that were connected, seeds planted, and friendships made. I do know that together, we observed how small gestures move adroitly between grand actions, and how each person's story comes forward into the realm of possibility.We learned that the rhythm, tone, and gesture of words convey their meaning just as much as meaning conveys meaning. Capisce? We learned we have a lot more to do, both apart and together. There is a big world out there that needs the balm of the poet. Andiamo, ragazzi!
I want to offer some very specific thank yous to the following people for making this conference happen: First, to Valeriano Forte, the poet and organizer of 100 Thousand Poets for Change in Salerno, for his generosity of spirit, and for opening Salerno to all of us.
To Filippo Trotta, grandson of Alfonso Gatto and director of the Fondazione Alfonso Gatto, for his vision and support.
To Greenpino, the artist who wrote the poet’s words on the city’s walls and on the ground of the piazza and who said again and again with his photo portraits of us, “The World is Poetry.”
To Donatella D’Angelo for making the vision of the conference a graphic reality.
To student of language Guilia Sensale for “getting inside our minds” to do the lion’s share of translating. Without her, so much would have been lost between us.
In addition, ti volevo dire:
Grazie to the one whose heart was beating
like he was at a wedding
and to the one who was a native in a strange land.
Grazie to the one who secured our apartment
and who woke me at 5:45 the last morning to
hug me goodbye.
Grazie to the one who swept me off to Paestum
and the one who gave me tips about Dublin.
Grazie to the one who went home to Macedonia to
continue the struggle there
and to the one who spoke for the Roma
and to the one who spoke for the Yazidi
and to the ones who spoke for schoolgirls in India.
Grazie to the three angels of Salerno
and to the one who exchanged books with me
and to the one who admired my hair and gave
me her long poem.
Grazie to the one who sang her poems with
such force and beauty
and to the one who knew Hurry Curry in Venice, CA.
Grazie to the one who gave the best bear hugs ever
and to the ones who admitted being introverts
and to the ones who shared their excellent photographs
and to the ones who work with children
and to the one who knows crowd funding. (We
will get this going yet.)
Grazie to the one who shared her films
and to the one who led the "Micro-Poems"
and to the creator of the paper boats.
Grazie to the ones who went with me to the Villa of Mysteries at Pompei
and to the one who went with me days later to see the Book of Kells.
Grazie to everyone who danced and to those who bought me something small or large
and to the one who taught me to say “ci vediamo domani.” (see you tomorrow!)
Grazie to the one who brought his daughter, who was thirteen and a poet
and to ones who sat in the café with me while I remembered my late father and cried.
Grazie to the one who is a poet with her camera
and to the one who founded River Styx, the poet laureate of St. Louis.
Grazie to my co-emcee at Saturday night’s reading
and to the one who shared my sister’s name (spelled only slightly differently)
and to the ones with the beautiful smiles
and to the creator of Medusa, process person par excellence and limoncello supplier extraordinaire.
Grazie to the one who gave me her friendship and half of her sandwich
and to all those who shared their hearts. That means EVERYONE.
(Note: if you feel I have not given you a specific shout-out here, please be advised I have looked at the list. Know I am thinking of you! Yes, you!)
Grazie to those who encouraged me to speak Italian, the language of my maternal grandparents.
Most of all, thank you to those who were not able to come,
the ones whose visas were denied for one reason or another.
We missed you terribly. As we look foward to the next conference,
we will plan how to grow this movement so that everyone,
everyone who wants to come can do so.
We are going to figure this out.
Poetry can change the world
one person, one poem,
one breath, one heartbeat
at a time.
Last but not least, thank you, Stacey Harwood for the opportunity to blog at The Best Amercian Poetry this week. It is always a pleasure and I learn something whenever I do it. Best regards to you and David.