Friday, February 02, 2007


Beauty & Dissent: The Jan 27 Demo Report

Dear Friends,

Thanks to the incredible organizing energy and vision of Melissa Tuckey, the poets were out in droves, with spirit and verve, at Saturday's march. We joined at least 100,000 other Americans calling for an end to this illegal and immoral war. What a privilege and a joy to be there! We topped off the day with a spectacular reading by poets from near and far. Read Melissa's report below and check out photos at and at the Flickr page Melissa set up. The address is below.

Read to the end for her call to get involved. Only together can we end this war!

Love and peace,

"A poet is the gardener and the blight, poetry is beauty and dissent."--Scott Ecksel

What an amazing day we had on January 27th! A day of poetry, community building, and dissent. I hope that everyone who participated is feeling as inspired as I am. Even after all of the organizing, I have a surplus energy on account of having spent the day with such talented, articulate, creative, and committed people. Thank you.

The day began as a crowd of about 70 poets gathered in the bookstore at Busboys and Poets at 10:30 a.m. -- a great place to begin a day of poetry and protest. We mingled a bit, chose the signs we wanted to carry, then took a group photo before heading to the Metro.

We gathered again at the corner of 4th and Madison on the Mall, as part of the Arts Bloc (alive with puppets and drums), where we were joined by too many poets to list here, including Martin Espada and his wife Katherine, who had made beautiful signs with photos of poets and their quotes and poetry handbills for the protest. We were joined by Ethelbert Miller, Esther Iverem, Joseph Ross and two other teachers and students from Archbishop Carroll High School, Will Brown, who interviewed some of the poets for his poetry podcast (more news on that to follow), Henry Braun and his friend Tom Bulger from Maine, Terry Murko from Ohio, William Kennedy, also from Ohio, Jody Bolz, Eric Pankey, Jennifer Atkinson, Susan Tichy, and many, many more!

Once the march began, we poets (each marching to a different beat) filtered out into the loud and colorful crowd. It was difficult to stay together and we found ourselves moving with the march, meeting one another here and there, calling each other on cell phones, running into old friends we haven't seen in years, becoming one with the rest of the protest. Next time we'll walk behind a banner and hopefully that will make it easy to stay together. Either way, it was wonderful to see poetry walking among the slogans and signs.

We rejoined one another again in the evening for a lively and inspiring reading at Busboy and Poets. We began the reading with our featured reader, Martin Espada, poet/activist extraordanaire, author, editor, translator. Martin's reading was passionate and spirited and the readers who followed were equally alive and present.

Among the readers we heard from: Sarah Browning, Esther Iverem, Susan Tichy, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Christi Kramer and Kakahama Askary, Eliot Katz and Vivian Demuth from NYC, Mike Maggio, Magalee Cirpili, a student at Archbishop Carroll High School, Joeseph Ross, Sunsara Taylor from NYC, Shawn Flannigan, Paul Aaron from NC, Thomas Brinson from NYC, Alan Barysh from Baltimore, Richard Schaff, Lori Pedue from Indianapolis, and Steve Bloom from NYC. Our time was limited and we didn't get to hear from everyone who wanted to read. We hope for other opportunities to hear those voices.The reading was videotaped - YAY!

Thanks to the Institute for Policy Studies for lending us the equiptment, Heather Holliger for taping, and Nathaniel Kerksick for help with editing.

I've set up a Flickr account for DC Poets Against the War so we canshare photos. My husband, Dave Phillips took some nice ones. Checkthem out: The web address is-- Feel free to post your own or download these. If you use them, please just credit Dave and indicate that it was a DC PAW event.

As you can imagine, Busboys was the happening place to be this weekend and the Langston room was packed. A huge thanks to Andy and Pam at Busboys and to the rest of the staff for all they did to provide us with such a great place to read.

A big thanks to the sign makers! Chun Le, Maria Velazquez, David Phillips, Heather Holliger, Sarah Browning and Christi Kramer and to everyone who sent their favorite quotes for the signs. Thank you Dave Bamford for cutting and sanding the stick for our signs. And to Tom Hertz for hauling cardboard. We are in the process of updating our web site and will post our collection of quotes there.

Thanks also to Esther Iverem for helping us transport our signs to Busboys on Saturday morning!!

Thank you Dan Vera for major help with transportation on Saturday.Thank you Kakahama Askary for cooking for us Friday night while we finished our sign making.

A special thanks goes out to Sarah Browning for being the impetous behind this action. And for helping in numerous ways.

And thanks also to Ethelbert Miller who helped with planning and publicizing our event.

So much energy and enthusiasm, where do we go from here? We'd love your input and participation as we move forward. Please email, if you'd like to volunteer and are able to attend an organizing meeting.

For Peace,
Melissa Tuckey
Events Coordinator
DC Poets Against the War

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