No one should have to live in fear of losing their life, especially when going to school or church, or visiting a night club, community center, or movie theater. However, the stark and shameful reality in America is hundreds of people have lost their lives to gun violence in such places. That is why Congress must act now to pass common sense legislation.
On June 23rd, 2016, Congressman John Lewis led 170 Members of Congress in a historic protest on the floor of the House of Representatives. The civil rights icon sat down to demand action against gun violence, which kills 33,000 people in our country every year and injures another 80,000 individuals. I was proud to join my colleague then, and I continue to work with him and other Democratic Members of Congress to bring a vote on common sense gun safety measures to the House floor. This includes sit-ins, town halls, roundtable discussions and more back in our home districts. On the 4th of July, I was joined by 100 people at a sit-in in front of a movie theater in Redwood City, where we declared our independence from the NRA and discussed possible solutions to this national epidemic.
On Sunday, August 28, 2016, I invite you to join me for a sit-in at the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo Church at the conclusion of the 10 a.m. service. I will not stop demanding action until this Republican-led Congress calls a vote on universal background checks and banning terrorists from buying guns. These are modest measures that the majority of Americans support, including the majority of American gun owners.
Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo Church
300 E. Santa Inez Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94401
Sunday, August 28, 2016
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
“Born in Reading to Glaswegian parents, Hollie studied French and German at King’s College, Cambridge, before earning a master’s degree in Development Economics.Hollie won the UK Slam Poetry Competition in 2009 and went on to finish 3rd in the global Slam Du Monde contest. A collection of her poems, Papers was published by Greenwich Exchange in 2012.
“A number of Hollie’s YouTube videos have gone viral and her account currently has over 3.9 million views.McNish’s first album, Versus, was released in September 2014 under the pseudonym Hollie Poetry, she was the first poet to record an album at Abbey Road Studios.Hollie has collaborated with Kate Tempest and George the Poet and they have appeared on stage with her during her 2015 tour. McNish received major national airplay on the BBC, first in January 2015 on Huw Stephens BBC Radio 1 show and then in May 2015 on BBC Radio 1Xtra in as part of a spoken word event.” Wikipedia
I thought it was okay, I could understand the reasons
They said, “There might
be a man or a nervous child
seeing this small piece of flesh that they
weren’t quite expecting.”
So I whispered and tip-toed with nervous discretion
But after six months of her life sat sitting on lids,
sipping on milk, nostrils sniffing on piss
Trying not to bang her head on toilet roll dispensers
I wonder whether these public loo feeds offend her
‘Cause I’m getting tired of discretion and being polite
As my baby’s first sips are drowned drenched in shite
I spent the first feeding months of her beautiful life
Feeling nervous and awkward and wanting everything right
Surrounded by family ‘til I stepped out the house
It took me eight weeks to get the confidence to go into town
Now, the comments around me cut like a knife
As I rush into toilet cubicles
feeling nothing like nice
Because I’m giving her milk that’s not in a bottle
Which in the cocaine generation white powder would topple
I see pyramids, sales pitches, across our green globe
And female breasts–banned–unless they’re out just for show
And the more I go out, the more I can’t stand it
I walk into town, feel I’m surrounded by bandits
‘Cause in this country of billboards, covered in tits
And family newsagent magazines full of it
WH Smith top shelf’s out for men
Why don’t you complain about them then?
In this country of billboards, covered in tits
And family newsagent magazines full of it
W.H. Smith top shelves out for men
I’m getting embarrassed in case
a small flash of flesh might offend
And I’m not trying to parade it
I don’t want to make a show
But when I’m told I’d be better just staying at home
And when another friend
I know is thrown off a bus
And another mother told to get out of a pub
Even my grandma said that maybe I was sexing it up
And I’m sure the milk-makers love all this fuss
All the cussing, and worry, and looks of disgust
As another mother turns from nipples to powder
Ashamed or embarrassed by the comments around her
And as I hold her head up and pull my cartie across
And she sips on that liquor made from everyone’s God
I think, For God’s sake, Jesus drank it
So did Siddhartha, Muhammad, and Moses
And both of their fathers
Ganesh, and Shiva and Brigit and Buddha
And I’m sure they weren’t doing it sniffing on piss
As their mothers sat embarrassed sitting on cold toilet lids
In a country of billboards covered in tits
In a country of low-cut tops cleavage and skin
In a country of clothed bags and recycling bins
And as I desperately try to take all of this in
I hold her head up, I can’t get my head round the anger
Towards us and not to the sound of lorries
Off-loading formula milk
Into countries dripping in filth
In towns where breasts are oases of life
Now dried up in two-for-one offers enticed by labels, and gold standard rights
Claiming that breast milk is healthier, powdered and white
Packaged marketed and branded and sold at a price
That nothing is free in this money-fueled life
Which is fine if you need it or prefer to use bottles
Where water is clean and bacteria boiled
But in towns where they drown in pollution and sewage
Bottled kids die and they know that they do it
In towns where pennies are savored like sweets
We’re now paying for one thing that’s always been free
In towns empty of hospital beds, babies die,
Diarrhea-fueled, that breastmilk would end
So no more will I sit on these cold toilet lids
No matter how embarrassed I feel as she sips
Because in this country of billboards, covered in tits
I think we should try to get used to this
Here’s the good news: There are thousands of peace-loving, peace-living artists who gather in solidarity in some 120 countries around the world each year on the fourth Saturday of September and who connect and continue to work and stay connected even after the main event is over. The main event is 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC), which is in its sixth year.
If we were rioting in 120 countries, for sure you’d see us on CNN, but we bare witness to the desire for and possibility of peace and apparently that doesn’t qualify as news: won’t get the adrenalin going, won’t sell laundry soap, won’t create division among us so that the wealthy and powerful can use us for their own ends. The world in all its strife is left to learn about 100TPC through social media. So be it …
THE BACK STORY:
I wasn’t there at the beginning, but I imagine that 100 Thousand Poets for Change founders, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion (both of Big Bridge Press), were having dinner one night – maybe with some other poets and some artists and musicians – contemplating the state of the world, the disconnection among communities and nations and trying to think of some way to connect positively, to come together in the service of shared ideals such as harmony, stewardship and compassion. And so it happened that in 2011, Michael put out a call on Facebook for 100,000 Poets for Change and a movement was born. If memory serves there were 700 events held simultaneously around the world that first September.
Michael and Terri recently stated that peace and sustainability …
. . . are major concerns worldwide and the guiding principles for this global event. All participants hope, through their actions and events, to seize and redirect the political and social dialogue of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and sustainability. We are living in a world where it isn’t just one issue that needs to be addressed. A common ground is built through this global compilation of local stories, which is how we create a true narrative for discourse to inform the future . . .
“What kind of change are we talking about? The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, anybody, to actually get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity.”
What started as a poets’ event now includes artists, photographers, musicians, drummers, mimes, dancers, arts lovers and other peacemakers.
Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion created a website where anyone who wanted to organize an event could register. It is to this site that you may go to register an event or to find an event in your area. If you want to organize an event and it sounds rather onerous to you, keep in mind that while an event might be big and attended by many in a park or town square, it might also be a small gathering of like-minded artists at your home or a local cafe. I organized The BeZine 100TPC virtual event because I am largely home bound and assume there are others out there like me who would like to participate in 100TPC but would find it difficult to spend the day out. This virtual event also gives people anywhere a place to participant in 100TPC if there is no event scheduled in their vicinity. So just use your imagination and be creative about this. You might dedicate a book club meeting to it or an afternoon at church. This year, Terri Stewart (Beguine Again and The BeZine) has organized a peacemaking circle to be held at her church in Seattle. Bravo!
Organizers generally make flyers for their events. These are often small works of art. Depending on religious or national holidays, in some countries the events are held on days other than the fourth Saturday of September. In other countries – Morocco is one – events are held monthly. The main consistency is spirit and shared vision.
If you are reading this post in an email, you will likely have to link though to view this slide show.
THE BeZINE 100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE, virtual event
The BeZine 100,000 Poets for Change will start on September 15th with our September issue. Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace) is the lead for that issue. The theme is Environment and Environmental Justice, which is our chosen theme for 100TPC 2016. If you’d like to submit work on topic for that issue, send it to email@example.com. Please review submission guidelines first.
Our 100TPC event is hosted from our blog. The post will go up at 12 a.m. PST on September 24 and you can begin including work immediately using either the comments section or Mister Linkey. Direction will be included in the content of the post. American-Israeli Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) is the Master of Ceremonies again this year. He does a fabulous job of it and will keep the action and commentary running via the comments section. You are encouraged to share your own work and to read the work of others. I’ll be on hand to give Michael breaks and to keep the dialog going until midnight PST – California. Ultimately all work shared is archived on site and at Standford University. Please keep in mind, that this is not just for poetry. You can share appropriately themed fiction, music video, creative nonfiction – whatever can be shared in a comment. Long pieces can be shared by putting in the url link to your work on your blog or website.
To help get you going, we’ll do 100TPC writing prompts here at The Poet by Day on Wednesdays, August 23 and August 31, so that you can begin working on something for September 24. Comments will be open for sharing and – in fact – as of today, comments are open again on this site.
100,000 PEACEMAKERS FOR CHANGE, Seattle, WA
This event is organized by The Bardo Group Beguines‘ Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again and The BeZine) at Riverton Park United Methodist Church, 3118 S 140th Street, Tukwilia, Washington 98168 on Saturday, September 24th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. with a social gathering after from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Terri will lead a peacemaking circle that will focus on earth justice. She says, “We want to make a public witness of peace and peace for the earth. Hope to see you there!” The Facebook Page for this event is HERE.
That same afternoon there will also be a food drive in process at Riverton for the Tukewila Pantry Emergency Food Bank and donations of food or money are welcome. Here is the wish list if you are able to help:
Remember, wherever you are in the world, go to 100TPC to find an event in your area or to register to hold one and no matter where you are, you can also participate in The BeZine’s 100TPC virtual event.
CHINUA ACHEBE was a Nigerian poet and novelist. His first novel Things Fall Apart(1958) is his major work and is said to be the most widely read book in modern African literature. He is considered the founding father of African literature in English.
Listen to a short interview with Achebe‘s daughter in pop-out player on BBC’s Witness. Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart “was set in pre-colonial rural Nigeria and examines how the arrival of foreigners – imposing their own traditions – led to tensions within the Igbo society. The book revolutionised African culture, and began a whole new genre of world literature. Witness radio program hears from Achebe’s youngest daughter, Nwando Achebe.”
Refugee Mother and Child Poem
No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours
of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most
mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –
singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she
ACTION ALERT Bill in Sacramento Threatens Freedom of Speech, Right to Boycott AB 2844
“Engaging in an economic boycott of “any sovereign nation or people recognized by the government of the United States” — like the anti-apartheid boycotts of South Africa in the 1980s — could become a felony under a proposed state law currently making its way through the legislature.
“The bill — AB 2844 — is due to be taken up by the Senate Appropriations Committee in two weeks. Two local state senators serve on that committee. Sign the letter to urge Jerry Hill or Jim Beall to vote no.
“While AB 2844 refers to “any … nation”, it goes on to say, “including but not limited to Israel.” And that’s the real motive behind this bill: To kill the growing Boycott, Diversment and Sanction (BDS) campaign aimed at ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.” PEACE ACTION more here including information, editorials and legislative contact for your more informed decision-making and action.
– Thanks to Peace Action and Connie S. for this alert.
Thank you for sharing the love of art, literature and peace.