Dear Friends of Poetry & Democracy,
I’m writing to tell you about a project that Julie Landsman & I are developing in response to the rhetoric of xenophobia and isolationism that is becoming rampant in our country. In such an atmosphere, how can we find our voices and make them heard?One avenue is through poetry, that heart-cry that comes to us in times of love and crisis. Because my poem, “Where I’m From” has been used so widely as a writing model (most recently across Kentucky during my tenure as Poet Laureate)*, Julie–an educator, writer, and activist in Minneapolis–reached out to me with the idea of creating a national “I Am From” Project. Through Facebook**, a website, and a great network of teachers, librarians, writers, and community leaders, as well as other organizations, we hope to encourage and gather “I Am From” creations from all over the country and take them, in some form, to Washington in October of 2018.
The action in D.C. will be a culmination of local readings and workshops, statewide presentations, radio and TV appearances, and more.
We’re encouraging creation in many directions; poems, yes, but also dance, art, song, drama—expressions which can be videoed and shared with and beyond their local audience. In terms of poetry, one of Julie’s visions is a scroll made of “I Am From” poems wrapped around a school, a library, a state capitol. Another possibility is to put our poems on posters and have a river of poetry on the National Mall.
Our deepest hope is to open a way for We the People to express who this country really is, what our values are, and how they unite rather than divide us. America’s embrace is wide enough to include all of us if we put our minds and money to our common welfare.
We would love to have you involved in some way. Please send comments and suggestions to Julie at:
or me at:
Here’s to equality and hope. Here’s to all our voices!
George Ella Lyon
Julie Landsman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Julie is the author of many articles poems and three books on education: Basic Needs: A Year with Street Kids in a City School (Milkweed Editions, 1993) A White Teacher Talks About Race (Rowman and Littlefield 2001) and Growing Up White; a Veteran Teacher Reflects on Racism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008. She is also the editor of many collections of essays stories and poems. She is a retired teacher and consultant who loves poetry and believes in its power to change the world.
George Ella Lyon’s recent poetry collections include She Let Herself Go, Many-Storied House and Voices from the March on Washington, co-written with J. Patrick Lewis. A freelance writer and teacher, Lyon is particularly interested in the poetry of witness. She served as Kentucky Poet Laureate (2015-2016). (email@example.com)