Some circumnavigate the globe in submarines, others in hot air balloons. In this 6-part series we’ll make history by circumnavigating the world on a magic carpet of poetry. From 3000 BC to today, people across cultures have looked to poetry to speak deeply to questions of what it means to be human. We’ll use short poems as prompts for exploring our own experiences and perspectives on how it feels to be alive today in such a vibrant and culturally diverse world. So, come travel the world with words in an inclusive, nurturing (online) environment and write creatively! All backgrounds, levels, and writing styles (prose, journaling, etc…) are welcome.
All cultures and peoples turn to poetry during times of celebration, transformation and challenge—those times when ordinary language cannot carry meaning beyond our understanding. -Joy Harjo
Wed. Nov. 16th- Japan
Japan, the land of tea ceremonies, zen gardens, bonsai trees, and calligraphy! This is a country where life itself is a work of art. And poetry, the art of words, is vital. Join us to explore Japanese poems famous for their brilliant brevity and to play with distilling our own stories down to their very essence. As Japanese poet Makota Ooka describes it, “a good poem is like a tiny seed that contains a great tree. If you can grasp the seed, you will understand the tree.''
Wed. Dec. 21st- Spain
Spain, the land of flamenco, lively plazas, tasty tapas, and Gaudi’s masterpiece the Sagrada Familia! The country is also a land of extremes, from the lush hills of the Camino de Santiago to Europe’s only official desert, el Desierto de las Tabernas. Spain’s identity is multifaceted and enigmatic. As iconic Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca says, ”Only mystery allows us to live, only mystery.” Join us to journey into the mysteries alive within and around us through Spanish poems that span from the Medieval Moorish era until the modern day.
Wed. Jan. 18th- Sweden
Sweden, the land of endless forests, sparkling lakes, minimalist design, and a national obsession with mushroom foraging. In Swedish Lapland, you can see the Aurora Borealis dancing through the long dark of winter and the Midnight Sun on the summer solstice. Sweden reminds us change is the only constant. As Nobel prize-winning Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer puts it, “I walk slowly into myself through a forest of empty suits of armor”. Join us to delve into impermanence in nature and ourselves through the beauty of Swedish poetry.
Wed. Feb. 15th- Chile
Chile, the land of volcanoes, glaciers, empanadas, and in the Atacama desert, the best skies for star-gazing in the world. Chile is affectionately known by its inhabitants as the “país de los poetas” or the “country of poets” thanks to its world-renowned poets including Gabriela Mistral who in 1945 became the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for literature. She said, “Let the earth look at me, and bless me, for now I am fecund and sacred, like the palms and the furrows.” Join us to adventure through our sacred inner and outer landscapes drawing on Chilean poems for inspiration.
Wed. March 15th- Somalia
Somalia, the land of camels, nomadic herdsmen, frankincense and myrrh. In recent years, a devastating civil war has made Somalia one of the countries with the most displaced people in the world. Yet, since long before marauding gunmen and gaunt children, Somalia has been known as ‘the nation of poets’ with a rich oral storytelling tradition that is woven deeply into the fabric of daily life. Today, the art form finds new vitality as poets in the Somali diaspora speak to reclaiming one’s cultural roots amidst unthinkable loss. As Somali poet Warsan Shire says ‘No one leaves home unless/home is the mouth of a shark’. Join us to explore the meaning of identity and home through the power of Somali poetry.
Wed. April 19th- India
India, the land of spices, bollywood, yoga and the sacred river Ganges. As the birthplace of 4 major world religions and with 22 official national languages, India is dizzyingly diverse. This multicultural identity is something they have fought hard for, freeing themselves in 1947 from 100 years of British colonial rule. Revered poet Sarojini Naidi was a leader in Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement for Indian independence. She said, “And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang, And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed, And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed.” Join us to contemplate how the power of words can inspire action drawing on wisdom from Indian poetry.