Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Here is a link to a letter written by the poet, Sharon Olds, to Laura Bush declining her invitation to speak at the National Festival of Books.  The reason this seems haunting to me is that 15, probably closer to 20 years ago I read an article by Ms Olds that talked about creative writing outreach with adults with severe disabilities and mental functions and it fueled a catalyst for me to share this with my then Director where I worked with adults with severe MR and physical disabilities of which lead to the creation of a fine arts integration program.  I had written Ms. Olds who in turn mailed me a packet of information that proved most valuable to us.  The group that I worked with then have since gone on to display their art in many venues and open up an art gallery and studio.  I had forgotten about that until a friend shared the letter with me this morning.  Also, in my email box this morning was an email from the Director of that program where I use to work which is a rare but welcomed treat.  But is it all just coincidence? Those where some of the best years I've ever had as an employee. It always brings up good vibes...and I've been riding a good vibe since the middle of last week that was preceded by low ones. 

The link above also made me remember a website and book, Poets Against the War that I haven't visited in awhile but was crucial in helping me deal with the aftermath and trauma I felt from following day to day, moment to moment the events and speeches that begin after Sept. 11 right up until U.S. declared pre-emptive war in Iraq.  I shudder just thinking about it vaguely. 

But all of this makes me think how we never really can understand the impact of our day to day actions no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.  Life (emotionals, energies, thoughts, behaviors, each and every single one, even the act of our breath) impacts the world we live in.  Not to the degree that we should possess some inflated notion or idea of our self-importance, but to understand how we are connected. Some whole cultures around the globe understood this intutitively and not as moments of enlightenment or something to be debated.  Our lives have a way of circling or spiraling as they connect in and out but never dismembered one from the other.  What a reason to celebrate!


  1. Your post reminds me of John Donne's "Meditation 17" written in the 1600's. You are probably familiar with this excerpt:
    No man is an Ilsand, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

  2. Jen, of course that last line in this is acclaimed, but I never knew who wrote it, or have read this in full passage. Thanks a gazillion for sharing it. Now I want to google Donne instead of putting away the laundry...I think I will, another 15 minutes, then I will chop wood, carry water.

  3. Beautiful sentiment. Thanks for reminding us that even in the wors of times, we can celebrate our connections with like-minded folks!

  4. incredible letter -- so eloquent...thx for the link!