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New Times / Art

The following article was posted on September 25th, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 9 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 9

Changing the world, one poem at a time

BY V. DALE

We Earthlings are a cynical bunch, for the most part.  So when a group comes forward that calls itself 100 Thousand Poets for Change, a flurry of questions comes to mind, most of them cynical:  There aren’t really a hundred thousand, are there?  What do they do, exactly?  How do they bring about this supposed change, anyhow?

If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief for one day, the group, or 100TPC, as they are called by insiders, will be glad to show you. On Sept. 28, 100TPC will sponsor a global event with poetry, fiction, music, and art, featuring themes of peace and sustainability.

The group’s website explains their mission as follows: “The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, anybody, to actually get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street, let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity."

In just two years, the group, founded by poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, has expanded in size and scope from the “world’s largest poetry reading,” with performances in 95 countries, to an “interdisciplinary coalition with year round events,” in 115 countries.

What does it mean to ‘promote social change?’ It’s a nebulous but noble concept. If 100TPC were, for example, a corporate meeting set in a Fortune 500 Company, there might be a detailed agenda containing bullet points of “next steps;” each attendee might walk away with an assigned duty to carry forth. But this isn’t actually so far away from what the founders of the group intend.

As the group’s press release points out, “More and more organizers and participants of the one-day, annual event are making plans to continue their actions after September 28. Many have formed groups in their cities that will continue to work year-round toward the goals their community seeks.”

This year’s SLO event will be hosted by Steynberg Gallery on Sat., Sept. 28, from 4-8 p.m.  For a peek at photos, videos, and an impressive list of participating locations (from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe) see 100TPC.org.