Red Letter Poem #6

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

The ties that bind.  As we all know, there’s a bit of the double-edged blade contained in the phrase – and Jean Flanagan has spent much of her writing life exploring the ways ancestry and cultural history both bind us to past circumstances and offer meaning and cohesion in our present days.  Focusing on Ireland and the Irish diaspora, her books Ibbetson Street and Black Lightning, portray a variety of familial relationships, from the utterly tragic to the joyous.  A poem like “Clap Your Hands…” feels to me like the sort of benediction you might have heard from your Irish grandmother (had you been blessed with one.)  Jean teaches in a variety of educational settings including an alternative sentencing program called “Changing Lives Through Literature.”  She is also one of the founders of the Arlington Center for the Arts – a linchpin of our cultural community and a physical manifestation of the ways our lives are inextricably bound.

Red Letter Poem #6:

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education. We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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