October 26, 2006
Tuesday night Wing It! performed at a dinner for the U.N. Association of the East Bay. I improvised a poem at the round table in the hall of International House in Berkeley: "The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. The blossoms of the tree are for the beauty of the people. The fruit of the tree is for the feeding of the hungry. etc"
Soyinka Rahim played her flute, Chinh Nguyen sang in Vietnamese, and Ook I don't know his last name recited a Korean blessing. Then everyone went in to eat and listen to speakers--Representative Barbara Lee on video, Dr. Larry Brilliant, also on video--he's the head of google.org, the philanthropic arm of google.com, and concerned with world health.
Local people and groups were honored for their contributions to world welfare--God, I'm a spaz, I didn't save my program...well, an Indian woman who lives around here has worked setting up orphanages in India, an African American doctor from Allen Temple Baptist church cares for AIDS patients in Africa, the local Rotary Club which has provided hundreds of non-polluting stoves to people in Latin America so that they don't have to cut down their forests to cook food, and on and on. Moving and inspiring. A consortium of high school groups had raised $47,000 to provide people with fresh drinking water in Africa.
In the middle of all this, Wing It! dressed in black, dancing, drumming, storytelling, singing...it was a weird venue in which to "perform"--not my first choice aesthetically or theatrically, frankly, but good in that we were participating in a much larger global conversation.
The average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 39 years. Thirty nine years!! Someone dies every three seconds from poverty and hunger. Most of those people are children.
How to dance, make art, do anything in the face of that? And yet, art is necessary. Something is necessary, because without music, dance, poetry, what are we? What are we anyway?
An old friend from high school--actually I was too shy to be friends with her in high school, I thought she was way cooler than me--Adrienne Jones, has a small press called Talking River. She will be publishing a book called Raising Our Mothers,an anthology of women writing about our mothers, and reprinting my article "Drama Queen."
And I also just found out that a 2007 desk calendar called Poetry Calendar 2007, edited by Shafiq Naz who lives in Belgium, will be using one of my poems, "Consider the Generosity of the One-Year-Old."
Good, good, good. Meanwhile it's a gorgeous day outside, and I should be writing, but I just want to go for a walk and a swim...