As we wind up 2016 and launch into a new year, I think of the poetry and art that many Alexandrians have shared with us. I am grateful to be part of this beautiful city that is filled with artists and creative souls. For truly it is creativity that widens our perspectives, deepens our understandings and strengthens our connections.
Some highlights of December were working with the extraordinary Bridget Tomich, a TC Williams teacher who has launched the Poetry Out Loud program at the high school. This is a terrific competition that challenges students to memorize and recite poetry. The first winner of the TC competition is Alexis Figueroa Mata who shared two poems, “Zacuanpapalotis” by Brenda Cardenas and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou. Her recitations were fluid and deeply moving.
The Arabesque program highlighted the arts and culture of Arab-Americans. I was honored to share poetry there, along with Palestinian poet, Samar Najia. The beautiful art of contemporary Arab artists is on display at the Durant Arts Center on Cameron Street through Jan. 12. This wonderful work is sponsored by the Alexandria Office of the Arts.
In Del Ray, the fabulous Nancy Belmont created another outstanding and moving community art installation called Be The Light. In addition to her cooperative sculpture, she invited artists, to share music and poetry and, yes, light, on one cold evening that lit up Mt. Vernon Avenue. Kate Moran with her beautiful voice, and the young and talented Marian Morton lavished us with their music, and Gina Rollo White shared mindful, light filled words to the gathered group. I contributed the poem below.
Thank you for the way
you paint the sunset
with golds and reds.
For the way you awaken me,
simply by peeking through my window—
Like this morning,
brushing the sky with hues
of cerulean, sapphire, indigo, denim,
sharing secret names for blue,
that, for me, were new and
drew streaks of Renoir
both outside of me
and inside of me.
Thank you for the morning
I crested the hill, and found
the bright, full Frost Moon
waiting like a queen at the top,
deciding she would stay—
that the sun had already risen.
Thank you for the flames
we light in December,
reminding us of
past and possible miracles.
My wish for you dear Alexandrians is a 2017 filled with poetry and words and art that bring you fountains of light and love.
You can reach me at email@example.com.
Wendi R. Kaplan is poet laureate of Alexandria.