This Saturday, May 30th at 12pm, I’ll be performing a virtual reading of my favorite parts of Walt Whitman’s Leaves Of Grass for his 201st birthday, as part of Laurel Hill Cemetery’s #ArtistryAboveGroundMarket. I’ll also read from Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise, a collection of poetry by our current poet laureate that offers an indigenous perspective on the American pastoral. This reading will be followed by a demo where I lead the audience through my writing process for spontaneous typewritten poetry.
As part of the virtual market, I’ll also be typing poetry on demand based on requests given in real time. Follow the link and sign up for a time to get a poem on any topic and support the other vendors at one of the coolest cemeteries in Philadelphia.
I think as a contemporary writer, it’s important to pay homage to the literary giants who drafted the modern canon before us. I think it’s also the task of every poet out there now to find ways to celebrate the writers who redraft and update this canon for the present moment. I’m excited to share these two narratives in celebration of one of Philly’s literary voices on his 201st trip around the sun. Hope to see you there! . . 📸 by Alexa Lewis
For about two months now, Philadelphia has joined the world in quarantine. Out of the lockdown a whole world of collaboration has sprung. No distance is too much an obstacle for the power of the imagination.
It’s crazy to think I’ve been co-organizing in the #magicmanifestations livestreams for this long. In that time, I’ve had the privilege to share screen time with so many incredible writers, singers, dancers, illustrators, and fellow dreamers. Together we #manifestbyrequest an unending amount of dreams to be performed live for the entertainment of audiences based all around the world. Viewers give us a topic and we bring it to life in front of their eyes!
Did you miss the show? Well, you’re in luck! I decided it was high time to finally make a little montage of all the wild magic that we’ve created together.
The weather is getting nice out and it’s likely I’ll be stepping back from going live as often, in order to get out and enjoy it, but keep an eye out for more Magic Manifestations to come. In the meantime, you can continue to support the dream by requesting a poem or becoming a monthly patron.
on the road with Marian McLaughlin (@marianmclaughlin) and Erin White (@movedtomove)
Morning ceremonies at the James River in Richmond. Reflecting on all the generations present at the reading the previous evening. Everyone from Erin’s parents and her father’s bandmates to the youthful presence of a 6 month old, wailing along to the Appalachian chords of his father playing the banjo.
We offer several marigolds to the James. A decree of peace to meet these tidal waters’ flow. Spring warmth at our shoulders. The future ahead of us.
The drive to Blacksburg is long, but gorgeous. Blue mountains. Green gables. Magenta redbud blossoms. Gradients of ecology expressing ecstasy. Virginia is for lovers.
The Hahn Horticultural Garden offers a backdrop of tulips and crocus. Coy pond trickling by. Lights and magic as the sun begins to fall behind the horizon line. There’s a report from the front lines of a movement stewarding the land in opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We hear the statistics of climate change. There are natural made scents passed around to go along with the poems. Poems about personal experience and bouts of sadness. About maintaining the sovereignty of the body. About a love so passionate it makes all the woes of modern society go away. The birds singing to the sun’s retreat. Collaborations between poets and nature.
At a certain point, the midsummer night’s dream is awaking. Marian McLaughlin providing the chorus. This is the type of place where magic is upon the eve. We like sprites glow purple and pink, as the moon rises above to light the scene.
on the road with Marian McLaughlin (@marianmclaughlin) and Erin White (@movedtomove)
An ease of being settles upon the car as we leave the congestion of DC and enter the South. We write haikus into the car register, noticing the redbud tree blooms and the state mantra, Virginia Is For Lovers. Romance is on the horizon with the fabric of nature waking interweaving with the road.
Richmond is a green city with trees growing out of ruined mills and the James River flowing through providing relief for the 80 degree temperatures. Our host for the evening @earthfolkrva is a giant farm in the middle of a residential area of Southside. The residents are out working the land and already the land is rich with herbs and produce. We have several stages to choose from between an old farmhouse built in the late 1700s or the backdrop of a vintage camper. We decide to use the white facade of the garage for projections as the sun goes down.
Fellow Earth Folk arrive, and soon the night kicks off with a special charm. The White family is there and Erin’s father has brought his bluegrass band to set the mood for the get together. Appalachian lilts that set the spark to light the bonfire, as golden light reaches the trees from the sunset and all the birds above cry out from their roost sharing an excitement towards the evening’s warmth.
Erin and I perform haikus with accompanying movements and behind us a pack of Coydogs start to howl and wail their approval. This little patch of forest. Maintained by noble stewards. There is talk of the land and its original inhabitants. Meeting grounds between the Powhatan and Algonquin. The exchange is scored by Marian McLaughlin’s odes to the change we are seeing to the planet in our lifetime. Receding wilderness and extinction of species.
The open mic begins and in the voices I hear how synchronous it is the folks who have gathered here. True Earth Folk. Fellow Earth Lovers. Truth Seekers and Fairy Kin. Their words describe the experience to be one with nature. Wild Folk fearless before Late Stage Capitalism. The spirit they offer to the land is enough to save it for future generations.
The next Poets For Peace tour begins today in Richmond and will travel around Virginia before finishing out in Washington DC. I’ll be accompanied by singer-songwriter Marian McLaughlin, whose recent album speaks to the impacts of climate change and the experience of living during the Anthropocene extinction of the majority of species on this planet, and dancer, Erin White, who uses movement to bring attention to the oppressive forces placed on the femme form in our current society. We will be on tour all week and hope to see you at one of our stops!
Poets For Peace is a collective movement of bringing hope and inspiration onto the road to combat the negative impacts of the Western war machine through dialogue and storytelling. This installment will be fronted by three performers: Marian McLaughlin, Erin White, and Marshall James Kavanaugh. Multi-instrumentalist Marian McLaughlin crafts lyrically-driven songs that stem from her stream-of-consciousness about humanity’s multifaceted relationship with our planet. With improvised movements, Erin White offers a grounded expression of the oppressive forces placed upon the femme form as it is forced to conform to roles outside its comfort. Together their poetic musings will direct the audience towards a sense of inner peace that will shine a beacon of light onto the darkness of the outer world.
Hey all, my tour kicks off today in Atlanta! I hope to see you out, somewhere along the East Coast. Ma Ja Ka has returned and is ready to share some light on the shadows. Don’t forget the magic! Shadow keep on, keepin’ on!
POETS FOR PEACE
tour in August through the Southwest
Tomorrow, I will embark on the road again with Poets For Peace. It’s been nice to have the break to write for myself and catch up on other areas in my life, but with the increased aggression mounting in the Pacific from the United States war machine, I find myself drawn back into the endless peace walk I began with several other poets on the East Coast earlier this year.
This time I will be joined by wordsmiths Julia Daye and Anthony Carson both currently residing in Taos, NM. Last year, though sometimes it feels like much longer ago, we were on the road up to North Dakota in a caravan to Standing Rock. I think I can speak for all of us when I say our experiences there greatly changed our lives. It was there that we saw what America’s war machine looks like when it is turned against its own people. But it was also there that we discovered a great Peace manifesting in the people’s collective prayers, sharing traditions far older than this Western imperialism.
I’m excited to share the road with these great fellow Earth Protectors again. To share some light with our surrounding communities. To create dialogues of hope and progress. To channel peace and love. With this fire in our hearts we shall overcome.
Dates are below! Hope to see you out at one of our shows!
Dream Poet For Hire services are open with a new season of abundance… I’ve been on the road for the last 2 months, heading from Philadelphia down to New Orleans and now out to New Mexico. I collected a lot of postcards and wrote a ton of haikus along the way. I’m stoked to share them with you.
Send an email to email@example.com with your mailing address if you would like a personalized haiku sent to your mail box!
Stephanie B. and I are halfway through our regional tour of PA, NJ, and NY. Besides a wall of TVs, video projections, a suitcase full of books (old and new), and a binder full of old writing, here is where I’ve found my power, my flow, my grounding.
Depicted are the gems I carry in my heart pocket, a tiny notebook wherein I write haikus and passing thoughts during lulls in the road, and a copy of my new book Travel By Haiku which I’ve been reading across the states over the last week.
Next up is a reading in Flemington, NJ and two readings in Brooklyn.
tattooed on the back of my hand as a sigil in the form of an arrow pointing forward, though the artist’s intention was for it to point inward. Over the week it has served its purpose guiding me forward on the road with the necessary flow to get me there, and then it gradually faded leaving me to turn to my own personal magic and power to stay afloat. I typewrite poetry on the street for interested tourists and fellow travelers and read it at night to small gatherings in bars and living rooms, exchanging my dream labors for donated currency and couches to sleep upon. Without my feet tethered down to any one location I find myself adrift through a sea of various characters and personalities all revealing themselves to me through conversations on dreams and a sharing of self revelations. We examine the human mystery and aspire to the occult. Running in the same circles, it was only a matter of time before we stumbled into each other’s present moment. And here I am, I have gotten to the point in the trip where new faces appear familiar, reminding me sometimes of those I know from home, and we exchange dialogue as if we have known each other for a long time finding comfort in each other’s company. There is no end to this joy of meeting strangers I know. All this and I continue with the same resolve, a journey forward with the spring rain clouds pummeling the increasingly green southeastern terrain under my feet, thunder clapping at my back, a knapsack strung over my shoulders, and that beauty of the muse frequenting my conscious mind and perhaps awakening inside my heart the further out I go. Actually, I’ve caught glimpses of her now getting ever closer, hanging around the outer edge of each audience, smiling and nodding her head as I speak her dedication, snapping her fingers to my haikus, and laughing as the whole room fills with wild wolves howling out her icaros mantra, “Hoooowwww? Ow! Ow! Owww! Hoooowww!!!”
I figure if I keep it going, it won’t be too long before she meets me on this country’s other side. And when I find her there, I will lie down a humble mountain perfectly glad to have the fortune to be here now and breathing alive.