This past week, I have been constantly reminded of the importance of creating connections within our community. In a discussion last night with the Boston Critique Group (a Boston artist collaborative), we brought up the word community. We considered the word in relation to art as well as how we “use” it as a concept. Never before have I considered “critiquing” the word, but tonight one of our members, Will, voiced his dissatisfaction with the term community, how it is a “catch-all”, how it’s overused and misunderstood. Recently, Will took the roll of overseeing a building in Dorchester, DAP, comprised of artist studios, a building that most would consider an incubator for an artist community. The conversation at the critique conjured such strong reactions and an exuberant dialogue that made me question this term. How would I define community? Is it the bringing forth of a shared interest and passion and igniting it within each other? And/ Or, the forming of personal and energetic connections at each moment, which in turn, affects and reflects everyone and everything that surrounds us?
Back in early spring my writing friend Dom, called, astoundingly excited about what I was up to at Groundwork. We chatted for a good couple of hours, which felt like twenty minutes. We were confiding with one another the need for more platforms to grow and nurture our creative communities. Per usual, I gushed over my love for New Bedford and how it would be the perfect fit with what we were doing at Groundwork- BOOM- Hollihock was born.
This past weekend Groundwork, along with UMass Dartmouth, hosted about a hundred writers at HOLLIHOCK, a writer’s conference which was held in downtown New Bedford whose aim it was to create a platform for writers to come together and share, learn and discuss. I personally love and admire the art of writing, (by no means is it something I am well adept) but truly find it to be an elemental form of art. When I was a student at UMass Dartmouth, I studied Painting and used some of my electives on a few creative writing classes with the talented teacher and the second Poet Laureate of New Bedford, John Landry. I instantly fell in love with poetry as we studied the Black Mountain College and the Beat Generation poets. There was something so vital and touching at the core of beat poetry that resonated with being HUMAN. John insisted that we go downtown every Thursday evening, to stand up and read at open mic night at a small café on Union Street. We were all required to go up and read out loud, our written lines, to strangers! This scared the living daylights out of me, but it was this class and these experiences that connected the dots and brought my idea of “Art” full circle. It wasn’t just about the act of creating a piece of art or a piece of writing but the importance of delivering it, sharing it with a community, and letting it go.
Saturday morning, as I sat in the crowd among fellow Hollihockers, we shared a special moment when Poet Laureate Everett Hoagland recited poetry. I fell back in the space where I could sense the connection of each individual in the room, full of ignited embers, as he read aloud a poem by Wendell Berry:
How to Be a Poet
(to remind myself)
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
- Ground Control: Artist Jake Ginga on the Creative Process - February 9, 2017
- Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? and HOLLIHOCK! - August 28, 2015
- Groundwork! is under construction - July 17, 2014