Monasteries of the Heart

Why a Poetry Park?

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On Sunday we dedicated a Poetry Park in the heart of Erie’s inner city. We demolished two ugly, houses—garbage from floor to ceiling, basement to attic—and created a space of beauty. An hour-long open mic poetry reading, attended by 185 people, preceded the dedication.

I’d like to share three items from that afternoon. Why? Because one of the missions of Monasteries of the Heart is to celebrate beauty, to find ways to transform the assault of the ugly into a tsunami of beauty that feed the soul and uplift the human spirit.

The first item is a link to a smile box with images from the afternoon.
http://eriebenedictines.org/node/2092

The second is a link to a story and video from our local paper.
http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012309159918

The third part that I would like to share is my script from the dedication ceremony. Neighborhood children memorized and recited the snippets of poetry that line the park’s path and in between their recitations I mused on the question, “Why a Poetry Park?” Here it is.

Why a Poetry Park?
It is, of course, a nonsense question.
Like asking, “Why a Mozart symphony, a Picasso painting?
Or why a rose?
As a Chinese proverb reads,
“A bird does not sing because it has an answer—
It sings because it has a song.”

The same can be said of musicians, of artists, of poets.
None of them is interested in answers,
but all of them have a song to sing.

Let’s listen, then, to the neighborhood children recite
the poems painted on the garden path

LISTEN…here’s a poem song by an anonymous Ute Indian.

All around me quiet
All around me peaceful
All around me beautiful
All around me home.

Why a poetry park?
Let the children celebrate in this space
the silent center of their own souls.
Let them come home to themselves.

LISTEN…here’s a poem song by Mary O’Neil

Red is a sunset
Blazy and bright
Red is feeling brave
With all your might.

Why a Poetry Park?
Let the children celebrate in this space
the magical, the colorful, the panache of life.
Inner cities, drab? No, our neighborhood is a riot of color.

LISTEN…here’s a poem song by Kate Rushin

I glitter like diamonds,
I glisten like dew,
I gleam like gold,
I glow through and through.

Why a Poetry Park?
Let the children celebrate in this space
their unique strut and swagger, their individual gifts
the spark of the divine that dwells within them.

LISTEN…here’s a poem song by Hamza El Din of Egypt.

I am a sparrow with a white heart and a thousand tongues.
I fly around the globe
Singing for peace, love and humanity
In every place.
I have no address.

Why a Poetry Park?
Let the children celebrate in this space…
Yes, let them celebrate. Let them join hands with
their sisters and brothers around the globe in one song, one dance, one heart.

LISTEN…here’s a poem song by James Wright.

Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

Why a Poetry Park?
Let the children celebrate in this space
a sense of awe, of reverence, of wonder—
of blossom upon blossom upon blossom.

LISTEN…here’s a poem song by Jorge Torres.

Like birds and flowers, kids like me
Catch that spring thing and feel—free!

Why a Poetry Park?
Let the children celebrate in this space
the only thing in life that truly matters—
let them be free to be their true selves.

LISTEN…here’s a poem song by a Syrian poet, Muhammad al-Maghut.

One night I dreamt of spring
And when I awoke
Flowers covered my pillow.

Why a Poetry Park?
Let the children celebrate in this space
surprise and freshness and newness without end.
No matter the deaths, let them know miraculous resurrections.

Yes, let the children celebrate in this space
the unimaginable, the impossible, the unattainable
the unspeakable--the mystery of it all.

Let them revel in dreams with no right answers
Let them see in this poetry space a mirror
Let them embrace that reflection, praise it and
from it speak their truth.

Why a poetry park? Enough.
Find a poem you love and place it in your heart
No “why” is necessary.