on the Block Island Poetry Project:
An e-mail from Helen D'Ordine to Lisa Starr, Tracey Dillon, Eileen Miller, Nancy Greenaway, May 26, 2013:
First, the weekend in April was phenomenal! It was just what the doctor ordered (for me). The high point of the workshops was gazing into Li Young Lee's eyes for fifteen minutes during Myra Shapiro's session at the church!! (Thank you, Myra. :-)
ABOUT THE BOOK.....
Like fine wine or dark chocolate, it is to be savored. I read and re-read parts of it every night, remembering many of the workshops and/or the writers. I love reading all of the tidbits of information provided with the poems. You all really outdid yourselves and should be very proud of your hard work. Of course, I feel an intimate connection to the book because I've attended eight out of ten BIPP weekends, learned an enormous amount about poetry, met some fascinating people and made some wonderful friendships...
A note to Nancy Greenaway from Jiff Blansfield, May 6, 2013:
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed hearing the cherished poems of our friends and neighbors during The Poetry Project. That kind of opportunity to share something about ourselves builds community and, sadly, is an all too rare occurrence. It was an excellent idea and I was so pleased to be present. Thanks.
An e-mail from Wendy Larsen, May 5, 2013:
What a wonderful book you all have made for your 10th anniversary! I love how Sandy Swan's tender drawings weave in and out of everything and Katy Homans' design is masterful. You all did a really great job and I am proud to be with the BIPP people. Once again you made a community.
An e-mail to Lisa Starr from workshop leader Mark Bailey:
You can count on my participation next year. I hope this will be a part of my life until I die.
An e-mail to Lisa Starr from Garrett and Jane Phelan, April 29, 2013:
It's hard to believe it has been only two weeks since the BIPP weekend. We are still reflecting deeply after such an intense and transforming weekend that you and the BI community shared with us. I don't use the term "transforming" lightly. There were many kinds of moments, so I'll highlight just a few.
The energy of the Block Island community that embraced everyone so fully and naturally, as if we were a part of your special community -- from the singing circle every morning to the moving sharing of favorite poems by such a wonderfully diverse cross-section of Block Island's citizens. Both Jane and I comment over and over again how grounded we feel among you.
Li-Young's workshop and his reading the next day! It was not only his poetry but his very being, his generosity and his authenticity. Our time with him transformed the way we look at life. It is amazing the way you bring together so many talented and generous poets for these weekends.
Lastly, I felt so privileged to have a salon/workshop with just four participants and two such helpful and attentive poets in Rick Benjamin and Mike Brown.
So many more moments, so many more wonderful people--I could go on and on, but needless to say your spirit, your gift to gather together special people who share so openly and generously -- we both treasure being a part of what you continue to create.
A letter to the Block Island Times, April 20, 2013, from Steve Hollaway, pastor of Harbor Baptist church:
I want to thank Lisa Starr and her planning team for bringing the 10th Anniversary Poetry Project to the island.
This conference packed Harbor Church's sanctuary for several events with crowds I'd estimate at 130. The vast majority were visiting poets from across New England and several distant states.
I was especially thrilled to have Coleman Barks and Li-Young Lee speaking from my pulpit--and I use the word "pulpit" deliberately, because both of these men were addressing how we connect with God and speak of the divine. As different as they were in appearance and affect, when they began to speak about poetry, they wanted to speak about God. The four sessions they led in our sanctuary were no doubt some of the most spiritual hours that 60-year-old room has witnessed. I am challenged to bring as much God-seeking to my worship services as I saw in the Poetry Project.
It is a remarkable thing that on our little island a group of us have had the opportunity to interact closely with some of the best poets of our time. These sessions inspire many of us to get back to the hard work of writing. None of this would have happened without Lisa Starr, but this year's conference -- and the beautiful 10th anniversary anthology, Where Beach Meets Ocean-- would not have been possible without the team of Tracey Dillon, Nancy Greenaway, Eileen Miller, and Lisa Sprague. All Harbor Church did was provide a building; they did all the work. As a member of the Roosa Fund Advisory Committee, I want to thank Dave Roosa for his continued support of the Poetry Project, which has made the weekend possible for the past two years. It was a great four days for the island on many levels -- and for many of us the level is, for the moment, high.
A note from Susan Littlefield, email@example.com, April 18, 2013, to Lisa, Lisa, Eileen, Trace, and Nancy:
I am sending you great heaps of love and gratitude for all you stand for in bringing to life the anthology and PP weekend. I salute and honor your vision, commitment, courage, focus, dedication and most importantly your personal investment of time and energy. I hope you feel you invested well as SO MANY people have been transformed by your work. This week I heard many comments like: "I received an incredible surge of belonging and creative energy from the weekend. SO many breakthroughs." "I felt so much support for my own expression, and I loved being around so many lit up and engaged people."
When I read the book, I could feel the incredible web of connection that the PP has been for so many... I loved the stories, and I relived the weekends. . .
A note from Jeff Davis:
"A dozen writers sit on a dock, the
red-winged blackbirds' scratchy song and cardinals' trochaic
calls ushering in spring. With the breeze blowing in from
the Block Island bay, someone says she's discovering how to
write at once with joy and sorrow. Another writer says that
her senses have awakened for the first time to the
significance of ordinary matter-the crusted bread left in
the kitchen, the odd cedar smell of a mixed breed's breath.
Her writing, she says, will never be the same. Another
writer, with several books of published poems behind her,
confesses that for the first time she's experiencing what
the "mind-body" connection really means as a writer. That
connection is making all the difference in how she will
persevere through writing her novel.
These writers brought me unexpected gifts
of discovery this April during the Block Island Poetry
Project where I led writers through a weekend of The Yoga of
Writing with Wonder. The tools of yoga, simple yet
effective, led them to unexpected places on the page and in
their heart. A joy."
"...just a wee note to say THANK YOU for a
lovely, lovely time on Block Island. It was heavenly to be there at
such a beautiful time of year with that sparkling weather in the
midst of all of you. Thank you for your thoughtful ideas and
programming and your generous support of artists...I was quite taken
by the quality and power of the writing."
- Aubrey Atwater
"I cannot express to you how honored I felt to
be at Block Island with you and your extended family this weekend. I
had an incredible time. I had never written so much that I was proud
of. I fell in love (again) with Li-Young and Kim."
- Chloe Estrera
"The Block Island weekend stunned me again.
Something, another layer, opens in me each year. It's a beautiful way
to begin the spring, this outward season of giving."
- Jeff Davis
"I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful
contribution you made to the arts; not only in the fine and
thoughtful programming, but in you all inclusive, genuine
Your poetry rocks too!
Moreover, that you validate artists by paying
us our fees only goes further to prove that you're an advocate and a
patron who knows what art is worth, and how it permiates all aspects
of people's lives. It was a joy and honor working with you, and I'm
personally looking forward to crossing paths many times
- Elwood Donnelly
"I want to say thank you for two memorable
weekends. Once again--or twice again, really--magic! Marie Howe--how
to describe how encouraging and just plain "good" she is? The
dynamics of that weekend were so nurturing, so scintillating and
organic. And then the next--Li Young is a phenomenon all by
himself--which I had known from having been in his presence twice
before--but a whole weekend's worth: remarkable!"
- Janie Peterson
"Thanks for setting the tone and running one of
The Best poetry experiences I have ever attended."
- Dianalee Velie
"I am still feeling buoyant..as if the windows
and doors of my head had opened up to let in fresh air. I can't get
over how much I discovered, how many wonderful people I met, the
incredible poetry and prose I listened to. I feel truly fortunate to
have been a part of it all!
- Barbara Dobbyn