Entering the last week of the year I can’t help but get a little reflective. This year was tough for me personally, and the unrest throughout our nation added more frustrations.
I really wanted to start this letter with the sentence, “What a suck-ass year 2016 was, right?”, but I suppose some people had a good year, we know Beyoncé and “Hamilton” aren’t complaining.
So many stories, headlines, deaths moved me in 2016. Please allow me to vent a bit and share a few moments that stirred me. Major news stories from 2016 read like a murder mystery. There were more unprovoked shootings of Black Americans by police prompting nationwide protest and adding strength to the “Black Lives Matter” campaign. Meanwhile, a large group of conservative, white ranchers in Oregon had an armed standoff at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. The confrontation lasted over a month. Only one man was killed and the whole group was acquitted. If the protestors in Oregon were Black, there is no question in my mind that a much different, more violent, situation would have unfolded.
2016 saw the end of “Bradgelina”, Nobel laureate Bob Dylan, #Oscarssowhite, El Chapo, the world’s most sought-after drug lord and commander of a vast narcotics empire that stretches across continents is captured, the lead in Flint Michigan’s water and the fight for clean water in North Dakota and Canada. The massive surge of refugees, primarily from Syria and Afghanistan, into Europe continued, estimated over 300,000 people, dodging war conflict. Was it this surge that prompted the “Brexit” vote?
AND if 2016 wasn’t freaking bad enough, we lost David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman, and the nation lost it’s ‘effin mind during the presidential election. Election years are always exhausting but this one proved to be even more so. My viewpoint of it, in metaphor, of course, is well illustrated in our animated Christmas card (link at the top of the post) acted out by the SPL Staff, Brad, Vince, Chris, Benedict and myself;
In January I got the fever to start a new radio show. After leaving KMRE a few months prior, I looked to a new station starting up just a few blocks over, broadcasting out of the Make.Shift Art Space on Flora in downtown Bellingham. Bellingham Art Beat was born! Featuring a half hour format, two interviews and music, the goal of the program is to inspire and inform the listener. The first season I interviewed 36 people for 18 shows. The second season started December 19th.
February featured at Kings Book Store in Tacoma, Washington. Felt good. Made a goal to read outside of Whatcom County in ’16, so goal accomplished. The folks at the reading were very kind, buying my dinner. My mom and her friend were able to attend.
In May I coordinated and hosted the Mother’s Day Big Rock Garden poetry reading. The sun was out and the podium brilliant.
July and August World Peace Poets collaborated with the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center sponsoring writing workshops by local teachers.
September included two events. The 4th annual “World Peace Poets Read-In for Peace” was held on September 24th. A great event, always fresh new poetry shared, good food, good company.
Then on the September 30th, I performed fifteen minutes worth of Sea inspired poetry for the first annual Bellingham SeaFeast. Two stages were active with “Fisherpoets” throughout the day at Boundary Bay Brewery off Railroad Avenue in Bellingham.
By October I had the makings for my third poetry book “Fallen”. It’s set to release spring 2017. I am very excited to work with “Clover: a Literary Rag” coordinator/editor Mary Gillilan. The theme for my new book is loss. This year,2016, marks the 25th birthday of my daughter Meaghan. Meaghan passed away at the age of three. It was a tragic and sudden death. Although the entire collection is not about death and loss, it is a thought-provoking assortment. I hope the words may comfort others and create the space necessary for healing.
November was Poem Booth Kickstarter month! Back in September Christen Mattix contacted Summer Star and me to help transform a derelict phone booth into a POEM BOOTH. Probably the most ambitious project, next to the new radio show, for me this year. Thanks to 20 backers we met the $300 goal, above and beyond! You can learn more about this project at the TAB “Poem Booth”
This year was not too productive for poetry or projects, but the ones I was involved with were stimulating. One item that hampered much artist work was a temporary job in aerospace for nine months. Working 40-50 hour weeks on the night shift puts a big dent in the social life. I expect to work many long hours again in 2017 to stabilize my finances and rebuild what was lost over the last year and a half. I had to stop working on my transfer degree, sell my car, and borrow from Peter to pay Paul. Where’s my Trump Money? –don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath.
2016 was such a burnout. I still have hope, hope and a sense of humor, toss in a good red from Spain and NOW we got something. However, I am determined to be more flamboyant than ever with my projects, radio show, book release and poetry readings going forward. I’m marching and making signs for the Woman March on Bellingham in January 2017, joining millions of others across the nation, marching for equal rights and justice for ALL. What the hell can I do besides that? I’m so frustrated. We need art and voice now more than ever!
Thank you for supporting the arts, being artistic, standing up for what you believe in, encouraging others, inspiring who you can, those people in your circle of influence, your home, your neighborhood, your city.
Best wishes to you and yours this holiday and a Happy New Year.