Local poetry event encourages political, social change

| 9/22/14 4:13pm

Each year, 100 Thousand Poets for Change chooses a day when poets, musicians and artists from around the world gather at local events to share poetry and their passion for social, political and environmental change. This year’s events will take place on Saturday at locations spread across 450 cities and about 100 countries.

Eight such events take place close to Hanover, including at the Kilton Library in Lebanon and First Unitarian Universalist Society in Exeter.

Local residents Deborah Mashibini and Frank Gould, who organized the Lebanon event, said they were attracted to the focus on art as a means of motivating broader societal change. Though the topics will vary based on the poets in attendance at any local event, common themes include environmental protection, concerns about peace and military engagement, women’s rights, human trafficking and animal rights.

This marks the first year that an event has been held in Lebanon, and much of Mashibini and Gould’s work has gone into promoting the event to spur interest among musicians and artists.

Gould has also contacted local high school teachers to encourage their students to share original work and attend the event.

“Here in the Upper Valley, the challenge is to network and get word out enough that poets who want to participate hear about it,” Mashibini said.

Mashibini, who previously organized a 100 Thousand Poets for Change event in St. Louis, said she enjoyed how the event drew poets and artists of all varieties.

Gould, who has three grandchildren, said any event that can improve the current world for his grandchildren is worthwhile.

“What I’m hoping is that we’ll have enough people there so that when we come to a close people are going to gather together and talk about various issues and maybe get involved in creating some change, not just writing poems about it,” Gould said.

Bob Moore, who organized the Exeter event, said he wants attendees to leave desiring to become more involved in some issues that artists discuss in their works.

This is the fourth 100 Thousand Poets for Change event that Moore has organized in Exeter.

“My long-term hope is that there may be a shift in some people’s views and they’ll see that we have these larger problems and look to say, ‘What can I do?’,” Moore said.

English and writing professor Nancy Crumbine, who plans to attend and read at the Lebanon event, said she believes that poetry is an especially productive medium to emphasize and argue for political and social change.

“There’s a compassion in the arts that’s immediate, and there’s always the need for that compassionate view,” Crumbine said. “Not only compassionate to other human beings, but compassionate to other species, and just for us to stop seeing ourselves as superior species, that we’re privileged and we own the earth is just ridiculous. ​And compassion to the earth itself. The arts are central in that.”

Mashibini described events like 100 Thousand Poets for Change as crucial to promoting a more conscientious public and peaceful coexistence among groups in conflict.

“There’s no point in my life in which the world has been at peace, and that’s really sad,” Mashibini said. “I would say anything that moves us towards coming to some common understanding and respect for each other as human beings is really important.”

100 Thousand Poets for Change events will also take place in Manchester and Brattleboro.