February is the month of…
*Peace and Love
*Kickstarting Cassie’s Book Tour
*Co-Creating with the Earth
*Write to Ignite Your Life
*THRIVE! SC Statewide Arts Conference 02.08.12
PEACE AND LOVE
Years ago, when I was teaching my very first Eco-Poetry class at the University of South Carolina’s Green Quad Learning Center for Sustainable Futures, there was a student in the class, only a few years older than the others, named Jon. He had completed five tours of duty in Iraq and was now returning to school to finish his undergraduate degree while recommitting to his life at home with his wife and young children.
As part of my commitment to transformational education (which does not simply transmit information but changes who we are), I had asked the students to write and read aloud their own eco-poem at some point in the semester. It was October when Jon stood up to read his.
Standing behind the podium in front of the class, with his green jacket and clipped hair and strong shoulders, he looked at us, paused, and said, “Writing this poem was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
And then he began to read.
October on the Tigris
Surrounded by beauty, it is easy to lose yourself here
The clear, calm water flows effortlessly
Whistling softly as it filters through the reeds
Water that brings life to millions
Water that flows from the cradle of civilization
On the horizon the sun descends slowly
Shattering the arid landscape & painting the sky in endless shades of violet & gold
Beneath the ancient sky a sea of sand flows into eternity under the rising crescent moon
Darkness, like most things here, comes quickly
On the bank a black bird drinks slowly
He acknowledges me with a single indifferent glance
The vibrant green plants and soft golden reeds disappear into the darkness as the
Crickets and water-bugs commence their nightly symphony
The sand feels alive beneath my feet
Alive, growing, aware
Lost in it all, the sights, sounds and smells of the earth
Nature is alive all around me
Only for a moment
Off in the distance, steel cracks the fragile silence
One cannot afford to be lost in the beauty here
Surely not at night
Night is a time for vigilance and resolve
I wait for what I know will come
In this place it is always darkest just before the dawn
The class was silent. Stunned. And then we erupted into applause.
In writing and reading his poem, this soldier poet taught me about peace. He and I already shared an understanding about love—the love of family, the love of learning, the love of doing what you have committed to do in this life.
He could have quit. He could have taken one look at the syllabus, saw the theme, saw me, saw the assignment to write poetry, and dropped the class. But he didn’t. And in staying and opening to what I had to teach, he taught me about peace—the peace of not judging, the peace of opening to the other side, the other person, the one we think of as the opposition or the enemy.
In his poem, he taught the beauty of this.
I do not pretend to know enough to be able to say what is right—withdrawal, victory, surge, surrender—except for this: I know that peace is to be found in unlikely places and people we think of as our enemies.
Peace is not simply being quiet and alone and in the small, silent place in your heart. If peace is to survive, we must find ways to feel it in the world outside, too.
In the soldier.
In the poet.
In the black bird.
In the reeds.
In what cracks us open into fear.
Into this moment, right here.
KICKSTART CASSIE’S BOOK TOUR!
In February, Cassie will be doing a Kickstarter project to support her spring book tour for The Pomegranate Papers, her third book of poetry and ninth book, coming in April from www.unboundCONTENT.com
She has been hard at work (and fun!) creating a video that will enable you to share in her journey of mothering & creativity. Please help spread the peace and love by watching, sharing, and supporting the project when it arrives very soon to your inbox or Twitter and Facebook feeds. Thank you!
Co-Creating with the Earth Winter Retreat
Friday, February 3rd 6-9 PM
Now is the time for Germination: Prepare the soil. Plant your seeds. Be ready for spring. These seasonal retreats are led by Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D., a Pushcart Prize-nominated eco-poet, creativity coach and the author of 8 books, on the land near her Co-Creating Studio in the Forest Acres area of Columbia, SC. The retreats provide opportunities for private journaling, reflection, and time in nature to help you rebalance your life with creative actions informed by the present season and the earth’s wisdom. $30. To register, get directions, or find out more, use the contact link at www.cassiepremosteele.com
WRITE TO IGNITE YOUR LIFE
with Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D.
Tuesdays 12-1 PM
The Co-Creating Studio in Columbia, SC
New class begins February 7th!
Learn how to use writing to gain truth and clarity about who you are, free yourself from what is holding you back from fully expressing your gifts, and take concrete steps to live a fully ignited life. Each class will provide a combination of guided creative activities, exploration in the natural world, and time for private journaling and inner reflection. Meets on February 7, 14, 21, and 28 from 12-1 PM.
$10/ first class
$30/each class after
$100/the whole month
Class size is limited and some spaces are already filled. To register and get directions or more information, use the contact link at www.cassiepremosteele.com
THRIVE! The Arts in the Future of South Carolina
SC Arts Commission Statewide Arts Conference
Wednesday, February 8th
Brookland Conference Center, West Columbia, SC
Register by February 3rd!
The health and vitality of the arts are intertwined with the growth and well-being of our state. How can we ensure that the arts thrive - not just survive - in South Carolina? Join your arts colleagues Feb. 8, 2012, for a day of honing your skills and gathering the tools necessary to cultivate the arts landscape. We'll focus on the big-picture outcomes for the future of the arts and how we can work together to achieve them. Session topics include using the arts for community development, communicating through social media, advocating for arts education, diversity in programming, using data to measure economic impact, securing funding and more.
Cassie Premo Steele will be speaking about achieving sustainability in your creative career during an afternoon session on Artists as Entrepreneurs. Learn more at http://www.southcarolinaarts.com/statewide/presenters.shtml#steele
Spread the peace and love. Pass along this newsletter to a friend, or if you have received this from a friend, sign up to receive your very own Co-Creating Newsletter each month by visiting www.cassiepremosteele.com