Sundog Poetry Center is pleased to announce the launch of their annual poetry event entitled Justice – And Poetry – For All. The series aspires to raise the voices of those in marginalized populations through poetry, focusing on different groups each year. The first event will be held at Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte, VT on Friday, June 22, 2018, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM and will be a celebration of African-American poetry. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include readings from Major Jackson, Rosa Castellano, Mary Jane Dickerson, Rajnii Eddins, Vera Escaja-Heiss, LN, and Judith Yarnall, among others.
The series’ goal is to raise Vermonters’ awareness of the persistent courage shown by those deemed marginal as they have struggled – and still struggle – for respect, recognition and inclusion in American democracy. Although often cited as one of the “whitest states in the nation,” Vermont’s historical landscape reveals how its populations have engaged from the early eighteenth century in the struggles toward inclusion of the many who have sought to become Americans. These tensions of class, race, and gender are often described polemically or in the language of the social sciences.
“We believe poetry has an uncanny ability to connect our outer lives with our inner selves, to give voice to what is often left unspoken.” said Judith Yarnell, Board Member of Sundog Poetry Center and a participant in the event. “This will enable audiences at the events we create to inhabit, however briefly, the lives of others.”
Inspired by Langston Hughes’s ambition to “sing America” and by the inclusive and wonderful lists of common Americans which Walt Whitman included in “Song of Myself,” this on-going series will offer a new focus each year. This cultural mapping of Vermont tells an American story of how one small rural state embodies its own conflicted stories of first peoples and settlers, slavery and the freedom trail, women coming into possession of their own lives, immigrant laborers, and 21st-century refugees resettling into a foreign culture. Each year, at a significant historical location, the voices of poets and readers will create a vital link between past and present. Highlighting such a physical trail of revelation through the voices of America’s poets who have kept alive the stories of struggle in the poetry of social justice will inform us about who we are and who we want to become as individuals and as a nation.
“Our series is multifaceted,” noted Mary Jane Dickerson, Vice President of Sundog Poetry Center and a participant in the event. “It’s not only a literary event, but it’s also historical and geographical. We’re pleased to be partnering with Clemmons Family Farm to bring that level of heritage to the evening.”
To broaden the audience of the program, Vermont Access Network (VANS) will be a collaborator in the project. Their documentation of Justice – and Poetry – For All will enable schools and libraries to share the programming with many more than those in attendance. The event is also supported by the Vermont Humanities Council.
Plans for future events in the series include spotlights on LGBTQ+ people, the Abenaki, and migrant workers. Register (for free) here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/justice-and-poetry-for-all-tickets-47041494376. For more information on Sundog Poetry Center and this series, visit https://sundogpoetry.org/justice.