2021 Community Poem: United Poetry Service

Thank you to everyone who participated!

We want to acknowledge that we gather as poets on the traditional land of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit as well.

Each community poem prompts us to acknowledge the natural space around us as a key part of its creation. We encourage all participants to take an active role to learn more about the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation via obsn.org.

  • Our poets were charged with writing a line that had either 1) a reference to Carrboro, or some other place or geographical feature in North Carolina, or 2) includes at least one of the words from this year’s theme, United, Poetry, or Service.
  • In putting together the submissions from 15 poets, thematically the lines coupled together as a resonant, striving community prayer. In the lines I see the effects of social distancing, and how each poet’s words almost magnetically desire to pull other lines closer to them.

2021 Contributors to the Community Poem are:

Joan Barasovska, Sam Barbee, Abigail Browning, Maura High, Karen Howard, Paul Jones, Chad Knuth, Kai Love, Shelly Lyons, Gary Phillips, Sara Spalding, Susan Spalt, Adam Speen, Kimberly Willardson, and Liza Wolff-Francis.

Psalm of Shared Space

The land unites us, the Occaneecchi and those who came by choice, those who came by force.
Our voices a poetry, We unite through palms pressed together. Shoulder to shoulder we walk in tandem,
the poetry I’ve created has created me.

The Me-into-We alchemy fortifies community with unity–
two moons united, and two comets untied–a suffuse of lights, shining surfaces, silent service.
Our poetry is like roots of trees connecting to each other in a tangled mass of hope,
longleaf pines, rooted in service to the sky.

Logic is the language of the mind, but poetry is the sound of the soul
on Carrboro’s winding path. We feast in her jade palaces, worship in her many temples of thrift–
our letters unite, each fold follows hands to doors to hands, the past unwrapping in the present,
freedom flows like poetry prose inked succinctly and stained to service the united states of dreams.

At the dark edge of tomorrow and never again, poetry reaches out, ushers in, leads back home—
United States Poetry Service: special delivery during snow, rain, or gloom of night.

We slow down, write poetry with hope and compassion, a small gesture, a small service. In Carrboro
poetry is a service; poetry unites us as a people.