Poets for Change speak out in protest, grief

Marina Brown, Democrat correspondent Published 4:12 p.m. ET March 10, 2018


The tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three weeks ago have left Florida and the nation reeling — grieving for the 17 needlessly lost lives, outrage at the gunman or the weapon.

From prayer vigils to demonstrations, and from legislative wrangling to tears, Floridians in particular, have tried to make tangible their feelings. There is one group that may do it best. The Greeks knew it. The Elizabethans did as well. And even today, Poets may have the words that speak for us all.

That is why on March 22 at the Black Dog on the Square from 7-10 p.m., 100 Thousand Poets for Change will present the community’s voice, speaking from the heart in ways not available to a journalist or a lawmaker. Through their poetry, listeners may find revelation and perhaps even an affirmation that our souls remain intact.

Michael Rothenberg is the co-founder of the group, which coalesces in various cities, with various organizers and sponsors, almost as directed “pop-up” explosions of poetry. In Tampa and Jacksonville, Miami and Pensacola, March and April will see 100 Thousand Poets for Change expressing their thoughts with programs called: “Poetry to Stop the Madness,” “Poets for Peace,” and “Verse Against Violence.” Well-known poets and invitees, as well as some open-mike participants, will speak.

But some might ask “why?” “Why poetry in this fraught time when even the best minds are confused and the deepest thinkers cannot find a way to make sense of what has happened?”

Michael Rothenberg answers, “Poetry is a heightened form of communication that speaks to and for the community. It is the voice of the tribe. It is the news. It is a vehicle through which history and tradition are transmitted. We are informed and empowered by poetry. Poetry inspires and motivates us to care about the world. To love the world. Poetry is a critique, an analysis and a revelation, a bond that makes us better for each other. And in more concrete ways, these events that 100 Thousand Poets for Change organizes are vehicles for outreach, education, and happenings that bring people together to not just speak about concerns but to do good actions.”

And in the listening to the poets’ voices, whether filled with pain or beauty, we may each find a new way to address the world and the exigencies it brings.
Poetry events around Florida in March:

Coconut Creek: March 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m. “Poetry for Parkland: Poetry of Peace,” 1100 Cococut Creek Blvd. Bldg. 62. Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke will participate in this event.

Miami: March 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wynwood Yard. 100 Thousand Poets for Change: “SWWIM Against Violence.” For more Information contact: swwimmiami@gmail.com.

Pensacola: March 21, 6-8 p.m., “Poems For Parkland,” The Ground Up Community Garden, 501 North Hayne Street, Pensacola. For more information: bmhutchins@gmail.com.

Tallahassee: March 22, 7 p.m., “A World With Guns: Poems of Protest and Memorial,” Black Dog at Railroad Square, Tallahassee. For more information contact: walterblue@bigbridge.org 305-753-4569.

Jacksonville: March 23, 10 p.m.-12PM, “Poetry Reading / Verse Against Violence”, Bab’s Lab, Cork Arts District North, 603 King St. Jacksonville, BABS’ LAB, CoRK Arts District North 603 King St, Jacksonville. For more information: mezofoprezo@gmail.com.

St. Augustine: March 24, 3 p.m., “Poets for Peace,” Corazon Cinema and Café, St. Augustine, poetplantpress@yahoo.com / www.bodor.org / 904-501.0043.

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