NHS Students, Many Others, To Participate In ‘100,000 Poets For Change’ Rally Against Gun Violence

DANBURY — Poets, professors, musicians and more will join together at Western Connecticut State University on Saturday, September 28, for the daylong event, “100,000 Poets for Change — Rally Against Gun Violence.” Among those who will participate are current Connecticut Poet Laureate Dick Allen and former Connecticut Poet Laureate Marilyn Nelson.

The event will be from 10 am to 6 pm in the Campus Center Ballroom on the university’s westside campus, 43 Lake Avenue Extension.

Admission will be free and the public is invited. The program is being is sponsored by the WCSU Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing program, Newtown Action Alliance and Junior Newtown Action Alliance.

Dr Brian Clements, coordinator of Western’s MFA in writing program, explained what led to creation of the event.

“More than 30,000 civilians die in the United States every year from gunshots,” he said. “This is an unacceptable state of affairs that has its roots not only in the over-accessibility of guns but also in a culture of violence in our country, the poor state of our mental health care system, and the failure of our educational system to teach empathy. We hope this event will raise awareness on all those fronts and help to replace our culture of violence with a culture of compassion.”

September 28 will mark the third annual global event for 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100 TPC), a grassroots organization that brings communities together to call for environmental, social, and political change within the framework of peace and sustainability. An event that began primarily with poet organizers, 100 TPC has grown into an interdisciplinary coalition with year round events which includes musicians, dancers, mimes, painters and  photographers from around the world.

Local issues are still key to this massive global event as communities around the world raise their voices on issues such as homelessness, global warming, education, racism and censorship, through concerts, readings, lectures, workshops, performances and other actions. The locally focused events have taken on a more continuous and expansive form through the new disciplines represented this year. According to 100tpc.org, “more and more organizers and participants of the one day, annual event are making plans to continue their actions after September 28. Many have formed groups in their cities that will continue to work year round towards the goals their community seeks.”

The tentative schedule for Danbury presentation of readings and performances is as follows: 10 am, Robin Sampson; 10:15 am, Neil Silberblatt (“Help us prove that the pen (or word processor) is mightier than the AK-47,” Mr Silberblatt posted on the event’s Facebook page); 10:30 am, Newtown High School students;

11 am, Mark McGuire Schwartz; 11:15, Leslie McGrath; 11:30, Lisa Siedlarz; 11:45, Faith Vicinanza;

Noon, Ravi Shankar; 12:15 pm, (performance, TBA); 12:30, Jeff Schlicht; 12:45, Bruce Cohen;

1 pm, Jeff Mock; 1:15, Margot Schilpp; 1:30, Jasmine Dreame Wagner; 1:45, Carolyn Baccaro;

2 pm, Lynne Paris-Purtle; 2:15, Vinnie Kmetz; 2:30, Don Lowe (performance); 2:45, Steven Ostrowski;

3 pm, Gian Lombardo; 3:15, David Cappella; 3:30, Carol Ann Davis; 3:45, Rabbi Shaul Praver;

4 pm, Lisa Schwartz; 4:15, Jessica Treat; 4:30, Blue Bossa (performance); 4:45, Lea Graham;

5 pm, Lori Allen; 5:15, Marilyn Nelson; and 5:35, Dick Allen.

Dick Allen was named Connecticut’s Poet Laureate three years ago. The honorary position had been established by the Connecticut legislature in 1985. As the state’s representative poet, the poet laureate serves as an advocate for poetry, fostering appreciation of and engagement in poetry and literary arts activities among Connecticut citizens. Mr Allen’s five-year term will continue to June 30, 2015.

Mr Allen, one of America’s leading poets, is preeminent among poets who encourage new sensibilities in poetry and who have brought to contemporary poetry a large array of subjects other than the “self” and styles other than confessional free verse.

Mr Allen has published in the nation’s premier journals including Poetry, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Hudson Review, New Republic, and New Criterion, as well as in scores of national anthologies. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundation have awarded him fellowships, and his poetry has been included in several Best American Poetry and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies.

He also offered his time to serve as the final judge in an International Open Poetry Contest sponsored last year by The Newtowner magazine, in conjunction with the inaugural Newtown Arts Festival. He was also a special guest at the festival, where he offered a reading.

During her tenure as the state poet laureate, in April 2002, Marilyn Nelson was the featured guest during a program presented by Connecticut Poetry Society (CPS) at C.H. Booth Library. Ms Nelson’s appearance was timed to coincide with April’s designation of National Poetry Month.

She was named Connecticut Poet Laureate in July 2001, succeeding Leo Connellan. She is the author of a number of books of poetry, children’s collections, and several chapbooks. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies and literary collections. She has been described as “a poet of stunning power, able to bring alive the most rarified and subtle of experiences.”

Shortly before being named Connecticut Poet Laureat Ms Nelson had released Carver: A Life in Poems, which tells the story of the botanist and inventor George Washington Carver in verse.

Exact starting times are approximate and subject to change. Attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets, coolers and picnic lunches.

Food and drink will be available for purchase. Most poets plan to be available to sign copies of their books. No alcohol will be permitted in the building. Weather permitting, the event will take place on the patio outside the Campus Center.

100 Thousand Poets for Change began in Sonoma County, Calif. The official Headquarters’ Event will take place at the Arlene Francis Center in downtown Santa Rosa, September 27-29, and will feature on Friday night, a 15-band 100,000 Musicians for Change Festival; on Saturday, the 100 Thousand Performing Artists for Change March for Peace & Sustainability including Aztec dancers, Brazilian drummers, jazz dancers, community action groups, veterans groups, immigration rights groups, and public media advocates, followed by a special dance installation performance by The Upside Dance Co., and a dance party with African rhythm bands, reggae and local DJs. On Sunday there will be a Poetry Marathon and BBQ with over 100 poets confirmed, making it the largest poetry reading in the history of Sonoma County. The HQ event will also live-stream other 100 Thousand Poets for Change events worldwide.

For more information on the Danbury program, visit the event’s Facebook page or send an email to clementsb@wcsu.edu.


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