For the Asheville Art Museum Appalachian Now By Glenis Redmond

The opposite of remember is not to forget, but to dismember.

To know the now, we must understand the then–

not just the beauty of the blue ridge,

the majestic lumbering greens,

the eye-catching vistas,

but how the past crumples purples into a fist

that draws a line that severs–

keeps us one from another.

Ask the Cherokee, the Coosa, the Choctaw

the Muskogee and the Algonquin.

Ask the poor white pioneer

and the manacled and shackled slave.

It is in bruised notes they sing

in the ballads and the blues–

the haunting strum of the dulcimer

and the echo tongue of the drums.

They draw you in and tell you

how the cruel axe falls.

Or, how tight the rope is strung.

The artist enters into the now

and nothing and no one escapes their eye–

nothing evades the heart–

no matter how troubling–

no matter how terrific.

The artists finds a way to show us on canvas, in clay,

with metal, with glass, with paint,

with tools, with camera or a brush and pins.

Pushes us beyond.

The artist did not come to make

anyone comfortable not even themselves.

So, they wake us with each piece they make–

hoping we enter into these halls

able to see ourselves–

in each piece reflecting what’s been dismembered.

Follow the spiral of the clouds, the river and the road.

They never ask are we one?

Because even when halved by the horizon

they know we are whole–

the struggle is in the stitching.

We radically defy with love,

when we tell our stories in these halls.

The nugget is in everyone–

to see ourselves in each other:

We Rem-mem-ber.

We Member.

We become one.

This is our task.

Here is a lovely piece of artwork by Asheville artist, Jane Snyder. She and her partner Janet Oliver have been lovely to me during my bout with Multiple Myeloma. I get a card from Janet every week, except when they took a trip to Italy. Then, when they returned, I received a journal from Florence. It is from lovely people such as these that keep my heart believing and inspired. Thank you to Janet for putting pen to cards. Thank you to Janet for putting brush to paper.

I am sure this is the beginning of a poem. Everything in my life seems to be. When my predominantly black class did not know who Maya Angelou was this week, it broke my heart, but not enough for me to not use it as a teachable moment. I wore my Maya Angelou shirt the next day. I just happened to have it packed for this week long trip. It reads:

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” Maya Angelou.

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Reflection of State Theatre Poetry Residency
February 4-15, 2013 New Brunswick New Jersey

Everywhere I go my heart obviously goes with me, but mine accompanies me as a palpable beacon. After all, I am a highly sensitive person and a poet. Is that a redundant statement? During the last two weeks in New Brunswick mi Corazon flashed signals more than usual. How would you know my heart is signaling? You would only have to ask my twin daughters: Amber and Celeste. They would testify to the copious amount of tears I daily shed and the clutching of my chest, when I witness beauty and also me saying, that speaks to me. Read more