The poet’s dreams shall have the capacity to defeat the actual at any point.
— William Butler Yeats
NEWPORT, VT - Years ago, when asked about the power of poetry in today’s society, poet Galway Kinnell responded, “(While) poetry is rather invisible publicly, it exerts a quite powerful influence on a very large number of individuals. In this way, it percolates up through the populace and, over time, may have a profound effect on who we are as a people and how we relate to each other and to other peoples and to other creatures.”
On Sept. 24, poets worldwide gathered to carry forth a new vision for the world forged from the poetry, dreams and visions of impassioned citizens everywhere. Led by executive director Jim McKimm, The Memphremagog Arts Collaborative (MAC) in Newport enthusiastically joined in and hosted a “100 Thousand Poets for Change” event at the Gallery MAC as part of the greater event that by day's end, ultimately included 700 poetry readings in 550 cities in 95 countries.
The MAC event - a free, all-day open house reception sponsored by Passumpsic Savings Bank, Community National Bank and Coldwell Banker Four Season Realty - featured readings by Vermont poets of note and the community-at-large in a lively, illuminating and vastly entertaining day for poets and non-poets alike.
Among the stellar lineup of poets were Antonello Borra, Greg Delanty, Geof Hewitt, Leland Kinsey, Jenny Rossi, Jerry Johnson and Peggy Sapphire. Local artists, writers and poets who joined in the international "celebration-demonstration" included Sean Andrew, Mary Brenner, Marilyn Daniels-Maltese, Sue Davis, Dianne Laplante, Ron Lavalette, Patty Oliver-Smith and Deb Smith.
Jerry Johnson generously provided a bridge to the day's festivities with recorded renditions of his poems set to music and sung by Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland.
A special "Poets by Proxy" portion of the day for those who were unable to be there in person but wished to participate saw four poems sent along by Ann B. Day and read by Geof Hewitt. Sean Andrew read writer Beth Kanell's poem. Soup Kitchen Soliloquies by Juliette Rose Wunrow, the 2011 St. Johnsbury Athenaeum High School Poetry Contest Winner, was read by Deb Smith. A poignant poem written by a widowed 88-year-old Derby woman who has lived much of her life in Vermont was read by her friend Marilyn Daniels-Maltese.
One of the day's many highlights was the arrival of the self-described "best Irish poet in Vermont," Greg Delanty, who, enormously charming and full of mischief, brought along his equally delightful friend, the "best Italian poet in Vermont," Antonello Borra. Antonello further charmed and rewarded the audience by reading his poems in both Italian and English.
100 Thousand Poets for Change sprung from an idea by Californian poet Michael Rothenberg to use the Web to initiate a day of poetry readings the world over devoted to fostering peace and protecting the planet. “There probably are easily a 100,000 poets in the United States," according to Rothenberg. "Then we found an Internet article that somehow concluded that there are 6 million poets in the world. They’re out there,” he said. “We created a framework." That framework allowed each local group to develop its own event based on its own issues. “I’m not speaking for other people in Madison or Cairo or Tel Aviv. I’m speaking for myself," says Rothenberg. “We have a common goal," he added. "I’m not the elected head of this organization. It’s inclusive and decentralized. And I think that is its beauty.”
As a result, the event quickly emerged as the largest poetry event ever.
The MAC invites NEK residents, our neighbors in nearby Quebec and children of all ages to compose a Haiku for Change in honor of 100TPC. Submissions noted as "Haiku for Change" received by November 14th, will be added to the MAC's archived web page on the 100TPC site and may be mailed or dropped off at the MAC Gallery at 158 Main Street, Newport, VT 05855 .
The MAC also invites everyone to save the date Sept. 29, 2012 for the next annual "100 Thousand Poets for Change," which will, once again, endeavor to rock the world with Peace, Sustainability and Poetry!