Celebrating Nat’l Poetry Month with Point Alumni

April is National Poetry Month and Thursday, April 24, 2014 is Poem in Your Pocket Day.   On Poem in Your Pocket Day, people throughout the United States select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day.

APR_Ellen AdamsPoint Alumna Ellen Adams, a writer and poet, found much comfort and support when coming out in Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese.”  “I kept close at hand and held close to my heart throughout that process. Like the tremendous support I found in Point Foundation, this poem sustained me, challenged me, and agave me some much needed hope.”

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver from New & Selected Poems (Harcourt Brace).

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Download “Wild Geese.”

Point Alumnus Nick Mwaluko, a playwright and poet who was born and Tanzania and grew up in Kenya, often uses poetry to address the intersection of sexuality, gender, culture and values.  His poem “Blueprint for an African Lesbian” address the violence and trauma perpetuated against women and the LGBTQ community in parts of Africa (with historical roots in colonialism and present day evangelical-political machinations; article on new anti-gay laws in some African countries).

Below is an excerpt from “Blueprint for an African Lesbian” by Nick Mwaluko:

Her lover took her
Her lover wouldn’t die
Love can’t die
So she ran away

Ran past her screaming children to America, dipped her big toe into a
quiet city called “Forgiveness”, thought “best settle down here for dear life.”
Therapy? Dunno. Can a hardcore feminist wrap her strong arms round a masculine-identified butch lesbian woman from rural Zimbabwe who married her rapist, then abandoned her children to war with her soul? Can therapy lift Agony to that place on the other side called Healing?

*

Below tongue-tied black angels,
above the blood of slave ancestors,
Who can lead her to that celebrated space for African lesbians?
How will she know when she’s arrived?
Butch, beautiful, poor, generous, abused, warrior, wounded, proud, confused,
very Black very African woman—How will she know when she’s arrived?

Download the complete poem.