a flash interview series by Lisa Vihos
photo of Vihos by Stephen Mazurek
When I set out to write an article, Turning on the Lights, for Wisconsin People & Ideas in the fall of 2015 to highlight Wisconsin’s relation to the worldwide movement, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, little did I know the magnitude of the work that poets and poetry are undertaking on so many fronts. I learned that no matter what name the poets give their efforts—and even if they give it no particular name—poets are using their words, skills, and examples as peaceful creators to tackle critical issues of our times: social justice, gun violence, gender, the environment, and more.
Poets help us to see the connections between things, to see the good, to combat the evil. They do it in so many different ways, some loud, some quiet. I am so pleased that Cowfeather Projects is able to bring the interviews I conducted into the light. I couldn’t include everyone in the original article, nor could I squeeze in all the amazing things shared by the poets I did include. So this resource is a testament to how poetry can change the world, and I am grateful it can be shared.
I know you will be heartened to read what your fellow poets are up to. They are not sitting around contemplating navels, fingernails, or toe jamb. Well, they might be. But only as it relates to a larger, more complex world! They are out there on the front lines, doing great things, shining lights, giving voice. It is humbling and inspiring.
And to circle back to where all of this started, if you are so inclined, please seek out a 100 Thousand Poets for Change event in your area. This year, the day is September 24, and Wisconsin events will occur in Sheboygan, Milwaukee, and Racine. Details below. If you are outside the state, check out the 100TPC website to find an event near you and/or connect with 100TPC on Facebook. Or, perhaps, you will be inspired to do something wherever you may find yourself. Let these interviews that unfold over the next several weeks be your catalyst and your guide.
100 Thousand Poets for Change in Wisconsin
Join us for the 6th annual world-wide gathering of this growing movement. Poets, storytellers, and musicians in more than 450 events around the planet will spread words of peace, justice, and sustainability. Come and share or come and listen. All are welcome!
Friday, September 23, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (sign-up begins 5:15 p.m.)
Arts @ Large hosts an Open Mic in the Garden
At Paliafito Eco-Arts Park
4th and Walker (a block south of National Avenue)
In case of rain meet at: 908 S 5th St, Milwaukee, WI 53204
Saturday, September 24, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. (sign-up begins 12:45 p.m.)
Mead Public Library hosts an Open Mic at Deland Home Park, 1107 N. 4th Street
Open mic: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Kimberly Blaeser: 2:00-2:30 p.m.
Music by Sheboygan Light Rail: 2:30-4:00 p.m. with poetic interludes
In case of rain, we’ll be inside the house
Saturday, September 24, 6-8pm
The BONK! Performance Series celebrates 100TPC Day
Open Mic spots available, but limited. Participants must sign up ahead of time.
Contact Nick Demske at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for Open Mic
Lisa Vihos has served as the Sheboygan organizer for 100 Thousand Poets for Change since its inception in 2011. In the coming year, she is embarking on a journey to Malawi, Africa to help plan and build a children’s reading garden in the capital city of Lilongwe to support literacy. Meanwhile, poetry continues. Her third chapbook, This Particular Heaven, will be published by Aldrich Press in 2017. Read an interview of 100 TPC’s founders by Lisa Vihos in the Verse Wisconsin Archive.