Compassionate Brattleboro Presents…
Words, Language, and Poetry As Possible Pathway to Compassion
Evening moderated by Shanta Lee Gander
William Forchion Performer, poet, filmmaker, and circus arts cultural exchange ambassador
Adrienne Major Professor with the following academic interests: Literature (Medieval, Renaissance, 18th Century, Victorian); Religion (Islam and Christianity); Pedagogy (Writing, Literature, Learning Disabilities, University Design); Theory (Marxism, Feminism, Deconstruction)
Desmond Saunders Peeples Poet, writer, musician, publisher
Verandah Porche Poet, mentor, scribe
ABOUT THE PANEL
If we look closely at the words we are bringing together within the title of this discussion, compassion has its Latin roots com- together with + pati to suffer which means suffering together. A poet, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a poet is: “writer of verse distinguished by particular insight, inspiration, or sensibility, or by remarkable powers of imagination, creativity, or expression…” There are many key words, one of them being sensibility from sensibili or the French etymology, both linking to the senses and feeling. Arguably, writers, especially poets, are conduits. They channel. They bridge to the forgotten, place us in the now, or time travel us to the future. We have many historic examples of this. From Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” within the context of America needing to situate itself as having open arms to many coming from different cultures and backgrounds to the work of Ntozake Shange—For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf—premiered in 1976. Shange’s work attempts to bring audiences inside of the experiences and the varying challenges of being an African-American Woman in the U.S. through the layers of her choreopoem.
There is the cliché of walking in someone’s shoes but poetry and other forms of literature might be the closest we can come to gaining access to the interior of another’s lived experience. Words and language are the tools of the poet’s craft that can invoke many emotions and possibilities. This panel focuses on the way that language, words, and poetry are possible bridges toward compassion. We will explore the implications of how poetry or words can possible achieve this. What does it like in practice? Are there ways to further advance how words, especially within our digital age, can become our possible balm?