Literary arts

Freedom is the word

Poets for Peace tour to conclude in Taos this week

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Taoseña poet Julia Daye said, “The interesting thing about Taos is that 99 percent of people who come here express a feeling of a homecoming when they arrive.” So it is appropriate that the Poets for Peace tour through Santa Fe and Boulder, Colo., which Daye is a part of, ends here on Friday (Aug. 25), 6 p.m., at Ennui Gallery, 134 Bent Street.

Opening performances will be by Taos Pueblo poet Coral Dawn Bernal, and Colorado native and women’s rights activist Alexandra Tilottama Grajeda.

Organizer and creator of the event, Marshall James Kavanaugh, started Poets for Peace last year at the Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia, Pa. his former city of residence. He said, “The prospect of getting tear-gassed or worse didn’t appeal to me, so rather than protest I got a sign that said ‘Poets for Peace’ and stood on the streets of Philadelphia inspiring heartfelt dialogues and impromptu poetry readings.”

This will be Kavanaugh’s fourth Poets for Peace event. The other three were on the road in Georgia, Penn., at the Democratic National Convention, and North Carolina. “We need to dialogue with each other, but more importantly we need to listen,” he said. The event in Taos is open for reading from the poets and audience to participate equally. “Poetry readings have saved me at challenging times in my own life; they can be very empowering individually and collectively.”

Kavanaugh landed in Taos three years ago on a cross-country trip. A friend in Santa Fe suggested a local hot spring and the rest is history. He walked into a poetry slam at The Coffee Spot organized by Daye and found a welcoming community of poets. What was supposed to be a day trip to the hot springs turned into five days.

Kavanaugh said the Poets for Peace tour is “a peace walk in the tradition of Martin Luther King. We are not bringing a message of hope; we want to bring the community together where the dialogue starts. I am a spiritual warrior [and I] don’t want to get caught up in hate and fear of otherness. We need to be a witness for the other.” He will be reading from a collection of work inspired by his time at Standing Rock last year. The work is called “Water is the New Precedence.”

Standing Rock was the site of a Native American-led protest last winter against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Daye is reading from pieces she said are “intentional meditations on Mother Earth and the human experience.” She said she sees a direct connection between “the way our culture treats women and Mother Earth.” The question she hopes will become a part of the event’s dialogue is, “How can we get along, not just as a species but all of creation?”

Originally from the East Coast, Daye said her writing has evolved from being metered and restrictive to the free-flowing verse it is today. She looks forward to initiating challenging dialogues, but also to witness and listen to what people have to say, “something we don’t do enough of. We hope for more social-justice conversations in Taos, a land of many cultures and spiritual practices.”

Anthony Carson will accompany himself on guitar with original music he wrote at Standing Rock. “I saw both sides of the argument: there was violence with words in the camps from one side and an ominous military presence on the other. I saw dark in the light and light in the darkness; I struggled to see the balance.”

Carson came to Taos from Austin, Texas, two years ago after his grandfather passed away. He was brought up in a military family and took quite a different path for himself. His music is about trying to communicate both sides of a conflict and the need to dream together and “accept there are different puzzle pieces, but there are places we can find union and stand in awe of our magical beings. Love is the source.” His musical intent is to “inspire people to enjoy being here, regardless of our current state of political affairs.”

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