Our Texts in 2021

Breaking [News] – Noor Hindi (Poem)

Forsaken Sea – Sekou Sundiata (Song)

The Death of Fred Clifton – Lucille Clifton (Poem)

My Beshert, or the Curse of the Stolen Potatoes – Joy Cutler (Play Excerpt)

Another Night at Sea Level – Meg Day (Poem)

Storming Toward a Precipice – Simon J. Ortiz (Poem)

Instructions on Not Giving Up – Ada Limón (Poem)

13 Suits: A Mother’s Monologues – Kathleen Duff (Play Excerpt)

The Two Fridas – Frida Kahlo (Painting)

Pedestrian Crossing, Charlottesville – Rita Dove (Poem)

In Trust – Thom Gunn (Poem)

Investigation of Poverty at the Russell Sage Foundation – Alice Neel (Painting)

My Neighbors – Ignacio Iturria (Painting)

Angel From Montgomery – John Prine, Bonnie Raitt (Song)

The Dog Star – Tom Billsborough (Poem)

From “Naked City” – Weegee (Photos)

The Painting After Lunch – Clarence Major (Poem)

Beasts – Amanda Jernigan (Poem)

The Pardon – Richard Wilbur (Poem)

Late Summer After a Panic Attack – Ada Limón (Poem)

Untitled” – Gregory Crewdson (Photos)

A Eulogy – Tania De Rozario (Poem)

Deer Dance Exhibition – Ofelia Zepeda (Poem)

The Buck in the Snow – Edna St Vincent Millay (Poem)

12/7/21 Workshop – A Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Buck in the Snow by Edna St. Vincent Millay
White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow,
Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe
Standing in the apple-orchard? I saw them. I saw them suddenly go,
Tails up, with long leaps lovely and slow,
Over the stone-wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow.

Now lies he here, his wild blood scalding the snow.

How strange a thing is death, bringing to his knees, bringing to his antlers
The buck in the snow.
How strange a thing,—a mile away by now, it may be,
Under the heavy hemlocks that as the moments pass
Shift their loads a little, letting fall a feather of snow—
Life, looking out attentive from the eyes of the doe.

Reflective writing prompt: “How strange a thing…”

11/10/21 Workshop – A Poem by Ofelia Zepeda

Deer Dance Exhibition – Ofelia Zepeda

Question: Can you tell us about what he is wearing?

Well, the hooves represent the deer’s hooves,

the red scarf represents the flowers from which he ate,

the shawl is for skin.

The cocoons make the sound of the deer walking on leaves and grass.


Question: What is that he is beating on?

It’s a gourd drum. The drum represents the heartbeat of the deer.


When the drum beats, it brings the deer to life.

We believe the water the drum sits in is holy. It is life.

Go ahead, touch it.

Bless yourself with it.

It is holy. You are safe now.

Question: How does the boy become a dancer?

He just knows. His mother said he had dreams when he was just a little boy.

You know how that happens. He just had it in him.

Then he started working with older men who taught him how to dance.

He has made many sacrifices for his dancing even for just a young boy.

The people concur, “Yes, you can see it in his face.”

Question: What do they do with the money we throw them?

Oh, they just split it among the singers and dancer.

They will probably take the boy to McDonald’s for a burger and fries.

The men will probably have a cold one.

It’s hot today, you know.


Reflective writing Prompt: Write about an exhibition

10/27/21 Workshop – A Poem by Tania De Rozario

A Eulogy – Tania De Rosario

for everyone poked so full

of holes, their own voice passes

through them, history escaping

the body in a series of echoes.


for everyone distilled into colour

of skin, choice of pronoun, place

of origin, length of hair, years, skirt,

name, limbs, medical record.


for everyone made to believe

that the petals of persecution

have blossomed from the buds

of their own paranoia.


for everyone passed over in favour

of a name that seemed easier to pronounce,

was less of an assault

to someone else’s comfort.


for everyone accused of prolonged

adolescence, scars on their arms

marking time like a calendar, body

taking itself into its own hands.


for everyone blamed

for the stare, grope, catcall, assault

that cut like glass into flesh as if

they had asked to be broken.


for everyone deceived

into dreaming, everyone who left home

and family to provide home

and family, returning with nothing.


for everyone pumped

so full of doctrine, the guilt which ate

into their bones, made them believe

breaking them was the only way out.


Reflective writing prompt: for everyone…














9/29/21 Workshop – A Poem by Ada Limón

Ada Limón

Late Summer after a Panic Attack

I can’t undress from the pressure of leaves,
the lobed edges leaning toward the window
like an unwanted male gaze on the backside,
(they wish to bless and bless and hush).
What if I want to go devil instead? Bow
down to the madness that makes me. Drone
of the neighbor’s mowing, a red mailbox flag
erected, a dog bark from three houses over,
and this is what a day is. Beetle on the wainscoting,
dead branch breaking, but not breaking, stones
from the sea next to stones from the river,
unanswered messages like ghosts in the throat,
a siren whining high toward town repeating
that the emergency is not here, repeating
that this loud silence is only where you live.
Reflective writing prompt: This is my day



9/15/21 Workshop – A Poem by Amanda Jernigan

                     BEASTS by Amanda Jernigan

       In my kind world the dead were out of range

       And I could not forgive the sad or strange

       In beast or man.

– Richard Wilbur


Her told me of the Cape Town walkup where

he lived till he was eight; the years were spent there,

he claims, his best,


although he’s range his wooden beasts, some nights,

along the windowsill to watch the fights

outside. At last,


presumably, his folks were reconciled

to moving – this no place to raise a child –

and made to flee.


The family came to Canada, where not

much happens for a lion or an ocelot

or boy to see.


Where I grew up, and entertained myself

with fairy tales from which I’d struck the wolf.

Though now, I found,


I summon wolf and lion, woman, Lord

knows what, and bid that wooden horde

to laager round.



9/1/21 Workshop – A Poem by Clarence Major

The Painting After Lunch – By Clarence Major

It wasn’t working. Didn’t look back. Needed something else. So

I went out. After lunch I saw it in a different light, like a thing

emerging from behind a fever bush, something reaching the

senses with the smell of seaweed boiling, and as visible as yellow

snowdrops on black earth. Tasted it too, on the tongue Jamaica

pepper. To the touch, a velvet flower. Dragging and scumming, I

gave myself to it stroke after stroke. It kept coming in bits and fits,

fragments and snags. I even heard it singing but in the wrong key

like a deranged bird in wild cherries, having the time of its life.


Reflective writing prompt: Write about a time it wasn’t working for you or what you needed to do to be inspired


8/18 Workshop – A Photo by Weegee

A close reading of a photo by iconic New York City street photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig, 1899-1968)

Mannikin Crime Scene

Reflective writing prompt: Write about your power of observation


Origin of the Name “Weegee

He acquired the name Weegee early on, a reference to the Ouija board and his uncanny ability to arrive quickly at crime scenes – sometimes, even before the police (from 1937, he was the only civilian allowed to install a police radio in his car).

He captured tenement infernos, car crashes, and gangland executions. He found washed-up lounge singers and teenage murder suspects in paddy wagons and photographed them at their most vulnerable – or, as he put it, their most human. He caught couples kissing on their beach blankets on Coney Island and the late-night voyeurs on lifeguard stands watching them. And everywhere he went, he snatched images of people sleeping: drunks on park benches, whole families on Lower East Side fire escapes, men and women snoring in movie theatres. He was the supreme chronicler of the city at night. He was the only shutterbug that would make it to a murder scene before the cops. Weegee loved New York and New York eventually loved Weegee.




8/4/21 Workshop – “The Dog Star” by Tom Billsborough

The Dog Star – Tom Billsborough

Sirius rising, seed of power..

Wind rode or tide rode
A reed boat sways the whole night,
Straining at anchor.

The papyrus dawn stretches.
The pale East trembles.
The priest too. Who knows.

Red sails tether

The dawn breeze.
The Nile renews her annual surrender.

Sirius rising, seed of power..
In this man’s soul
What joy to compose its shell,
The hollow ritual!

Reflective writing prompt: Write about your annual renewal