The Kent Community dinner, sponsored by All Together Now, keeps on growing and venturing out into new areas of community interest. About 3 years ago the Kent Community dinner was featured in Cleveland’s Plain Dealer as a great local example of unity in action and I’m pleased to report they haven’t slowed down a bit.
Each month the Kent Community dinner brings together folks from around our region for an old fashioned community meal. Bring a dish to pass, a smile and a genuine interest in getting to know your neighbor and you’ll fit right in.
In September, I understand that in addition to breaking bread together, they scripted a poem with a little help from the Kent State University Wick Poetry Center, that they entitled Welcome to Kent. This is exactly the kind of interesting, eclectic, only in Kent kind of thing that makes Kent, well, Kent.
Here’s the story behind the poem, and of course the poem.
Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center led the
Kent Community Dinner participants in writing a group poem
for visiting dignitaries from Viet Nam.
Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center director David Hassler and outreach coordinator Nicole Robinson led the September Kent Community Dinner participants in creating a poem to be read on November 1, 2010, in the Kiva Auditorium to visiting dignitaries from Viet Nam. The poem entitled, “Welcome to Kent,” was inspired by Holden Elementary School 5th grade student Shreya Basu’s poem “I Want to Be,” which appears in the exhibit Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings. A collaborative, international project created by Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center and School of Art Galleries, in collaboration with Solder’s Heart, Speak Peace features original poems written by American children, veterans, and established poets in response to Vietnamese children’s paintings on peace and war that are currently on loan from the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. As part of the evening’s program the participants viewed slides of the paintings and wrote lines for a poem which has been “stitched together” by Mr. Hassler and Ms. Robinson. All ages participated together. The evening offered a timely testament to the emotional truth of war and peace.
The Kent community’s poem will be read to visiting dignitaries from Viet Nam as part of a program on Monday, November 1, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. in the Kiva at Kent State, sponsored by Kent State Univerisity’s Wick Poetry Center, Honors College, and the Office of the Provost. During the program and reception audience members will have an opportunity to hear from and meet the following Vietnamese officials:
- Mr. Tran Song – ARVN air force veteran, re-education camp survivor, fluent English speaker, former teacher, Vietnam Cultural Guide and Liaison, Soldier’s Heart representative in Viet Nam
- Ms. Minh Thai – Chair, Dept. of Journalism and Communications, University of Humanities and Social Sciences, Hanoi, poet and journalist
- Mr. Tam Tien – Viet Cong veteran, owner/host of B&B in Mekong Delta, veterans’ reconciliation advocate
Below is the Kent Community Dinner poem:
Welcome to Kent
Inspired by Speak Peace and the visit of Vietnamese officials on November 1, 2010
We want to share the colors of life
that pull and hold us together
We want to know the
resilience of people
who are survivors of war,
how their hearts can forgive,
even a little
We want to be the ox
that plows your fields
to sow the seeds of peace
We want to be all the colors
of your paintings, to have
no restrictions or boundaries
We want to be the thread
that sews together
the broken pieces of our hearts
We want to be the light
that peeks out of
the darkest of shadows
We want to be a door,
not a wall, so we
can open to love
We want to be a bridge
that takes you to the other side,
a gift that helps you on your journey
We want to be a tuning fork
to raise the world’s vibrations
We want to be a table
with bountiful food shared by all
Written by Kent Community Dinner Participants
September 18, 2010
Wick Poetry Center
Kent State University
301 – C Satterfield Hall
Kent, Ohio 44242
330.672.2067 (office line)
330.672.1769 (direct line)
Kent Community Dinner
All Together Now, Inc.
P.O. Box 178
Kent, OH 44240