Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Flicker, A SPARK, A Flame!

English: Campfire with sparks in Anttoora, Fin...
English: Campfire with sparks in Anttoora, Finland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the past few years, I have been taking part in a wonderful collaboration called SPARK.  SPARK, a quarterly event that brings together artists, writers and musicians, is the brainchild of Amy Souza, a writer and artist in her on right.

Just a few days ago, the most recent event, SPARK 17, came to an end.  For me, it was one of the best, yet.  

For SPARK 17, I was both an artist and a writer.  I submitted a Flash Fiction piece I had written and a photograph that I enhanced with GIMP.  My partners, both very gifted and talented woman, sent me an inspiration piece to respond to, also.  One was a painting, the other a poem.  

You can see the results of our work by clicking on the following links:

My flash fiction and Liz Mathews painting.

Liz Mathews painting and my poem. 

Ana Gonçalves poem and my photo.

My photo and Ana Gonçalves poem.

What a pleasure it was to work with two uniquely different people.  I felt challenged and inspired by each in different ways.  For instance, the moment I saw Liz Mathews painting, I immediately had the words to the poem dancing in my head.  On the other hand, Ana Gonçalves' poem touched me deeply, but I was challenged by how I would respond to its deep meaning and beauty.

My thanks to Amy for catching a flicker, creating a SPARK and managing the flames of our creations!


Related articles: 
Collaborations and Creation
Challenging Creativity
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Poetry, Fall and Fundraising!

Autumnal Equinox

The misty ghosts rise early from the river bed.
Traveling up the mountain side,
they wrap their icy arms around 
the swaying maples and bending birches.
Their chilly welcome signals a change from
homely gowns of green
to garments of lush red, startling orange and brilliant gold.
Soon, the entire mountain is resplendant
in its autumn finery.

by Linda M. Rhinehart Neas © 2012

How I love the autumn season and writing poetry!  This fall, I am so excited to be participating in the Poem-a-day challenge because for each poem I write, friends and family have pledged a donation to The Center for New Americans (CNA).  CNA is an organization that supports immigrants and refugees by providing various resources and programs that help acclimate them to their new home.  

Some of you know that I am very passionate about CNA.  This is were I teach English as a second language.  I have had the joy of seeing students with few English skills progress to community college and beyond.  One of the things that makes our program at CNA different from others is that we provide a child care literacy program that allows parents to go to ESL classes, while their children are also learning.  All the services at CNA are free of charge, which means that funds are raised through various means, including fundraising.

This November, CNA will celebrate 30 Poems in November, an event that invites poets, writers and community members to take the challenge of creating a poem a day during the month of November.  Each writer sets up a fundraising page on the secure FirstGiving site.  There, friends and family can pledge money towards the fundraiser.

But this isn't simply a fundraiser.  30 Poems in November is also a celebration of poetry and community.  In December, writers are invited to come together at Smith College in Northampton, MA for an evening of readings, sharing and the celebration of literacy. 

If you are interested in helping me raise funds, my page is found here. 
If you would like to join in this wonderfully creative celebration as a writer, you may sign up at

What a wonderful way to share our language!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Poems and Literacy

November is the Poem-a-day challenge. This will be my third year in the challenge, but this year there is a twist.  This year, for each poem I write, people will be pledging money that will go to the Center for New Americans (CNA), a non-profit organization that supports and educates immigrants and refugees and their families.  

I am excited for two reasons: one, this is where I teach and I love my students.  Two, the money will be going to continue our family literacy program, which allows children of our adult students to be taught in a pre-kindergarten literacy program, while their parents are learning English. 

30 Poems in November was conceived by Northampton Poet Laureate Leslea Newman, who challenged the poets and writers of Northampton to write their poems during November 2009 to raise funds for CNA.  The idea caught on like wildfire and the fundraiser not only was a success, but it became a yearly event that has now grown into a community celebration of poetry.

Poets can sign up to join the challenge.  At the end of November, each poet will submit a favorite poem for an anthology that is put together.  Writers will be invited to come to Smith College on Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 PM to read their poems.   

One of the great things about this event is that while there are many well-known regional and national poets, who participate, some of the poets are first time writers of poetry.  What a gift to be able to share their work with the world! 

If you would like to sponsor me as I write 30 Poems in November, please visit my FirstGiving page at

If you would like to join me in the challenge by writing poems, please sign up at


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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wisdom Education

Icon of St. Sophia.
Icon of St. Sophia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the past month, I have taken a course on Wisdom Education, which is based on the work of theologian, Matthew Fox, who is famous for Creation Spirituality, among other things.  The course was developed by Theodore Richards, the director of The Chicago Wisdom Project.

In a nutshell, Wisdom Education is a means to help students, first, get in touch with their body's wisdom, learning techniques to de-stress, then, second, allow them to find a creative means to express themselves. 

What I loved about this pedagogy of teaching is that it works for students of all ages because it takes us back to Wisdom.  Teaching in aboriginal or indigenous cultures is steeped in Wisdom.  In fact, the "teachers" are often referred to as Wise Women or Wise Men.  

Matthew Fox teaches that Wisdom Education incorporates the 10 C's - Contemplation; Character/Chakra Development; Cosmology & Ecology; Chaos & Darkness; Compassion; Community; Critical Consciousness & Judgment; Courage; Creativity; Ceremony, Celebration & Ritual.  Each of these elements grows from the other.

For instance, as a person practices contemplation, they are able to connect with Universal Energy/Light/Power, which enables them to develop their character on a level path.  At this time, the person becomes aware of his/her connection to the rest of the world.  Through this connection, the person learns how important chaos is to the balance of all things (think yin/yang).  [We in the Western world tend to have a negative view of Chaos and Darkness.  However, without it we do not have Creativity or Light.] This awareness enables him or her to learn how compassion connects them to community or to use the translation of the word compassion - how to "feel with" others.  Living in community means the person must also learn how to look critically at what he/she are told, hear, see, etc., which means learning to make sound judgments and having the courage to make changes, if needed.  Through creativity these changes come into being. [Creativity is more than being taught to draw or sing.  Creativity is the ability to see multiple solutions to a problem by using a variety of modalities.] Finally, as a way to share what the person has created with the community, there is celebration/ceremony and/or ritual.

Grant it, this is a quick and perhaps, simplistic description, but it gives you an idea of how it all works.  For more information on the 10 C's, I highly recommend visiting Matthew Fox's website

So, what do I hope to do with this new found knowledge I have gained from working with Ted for five weeks?  My hope is to develop a program that reaches out to the immigrant/refugee community, helping them to learn what to do during hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and flooding.  

As the days progress, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers that I may be able to make this idea become reality.

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