A Poetry Reading in Honor of the Right to Protest As a Patriotic and Historical Tradition

Manchester, VT
February 17, 2003

The people here are weathered and beautiful. There is a man in a maroon wool cap, big bushy eyebrows, gray beard, well-worn corduroy slacks. He carries a book of Emily Dickinson’s poems. People’s faces are open and excited. A feeling of community pervades the atmosphere; we are smiling at one another, listening to the conversations around us, feeling free to comment on what someone in the pew behind you says. The church is crowded–we got here an hour and a half before they were going to open the doors but it is so cold outside they took pity on the early birds and let us into the community room downstairs, where we gathered in increasing numbers, beginning to press against one another, breathing the same air.

The poets are reading for peace. Ruth Stone, from Binghamton University. Jamaica Kincaid. Galway Kinnell–I remember Fergus Falling, writing for Arthur Clements’ class. The poets are reading for peace and we are here to let them know down in Washington we don’t support this war. We don’t want to kill people over oil over what? Political and economic concerns. We are all human we are all equal all precious none of us more so than another.