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Arts Activism: Writing to Support the Good

By Lucina Kathmann

Poetry is an act of peace.
Peace goes into the making of a poet
as flour goes into the making of bread.
—Pablo Neruda

“Arts activism is a way for us as writers to be a voice for what we love and are passionate about: to be a strength for the good through our work,” local poet Judyth Hill said from the back porch of her verdant ranchito near Jalpa. “Writing, especially poetry, is a way of impassioned, skillful, beauty-making; singing, as best we can on any given day, the world to the Good.”

PEN Lecture
“Arts Activism: Writing to Support the Good”
Tue, Feb 25, 6pm
Bellas Artes Auditorium
100 pesos

“And…it’s great fun!”

Tuesday evening, February 25, at 6pm, as part of the PEN Lecture Series, Hill will offer lively, creative, ways to write compassionately and powerfully about the changes we would like to see in our world, our cultures and our lives. “I’m from the ‘Everything Matters’ school of thought,” she noted, “Being a force for good in the world, keeping a sense of justice and a sense of humor. Noticing the presas when they are full, the blessed, fragile appearance of the monarchs in February, the latest on the Keystone pipeline and the way jacarandas fill the city with purple blossoms in April.”

Hill will be addressing her favorite agenda: “I love creating ways for people to throw a “Yes” into the world: let’s write deeply and wildly for what we would love to see come true!”

When the Towers fell in 2001, Hill had been reading Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart and was doing the Buddhist practice of Tonglen: using the breath to transform grief and suffering. “Instead of the Western concept of Breathe in the good…Breathe out the bad (spread that bad around to someone else!), Tonglen says use our mind, heart, body and breath to heal and transform and create good in the world.”

“This is how I wrote the poem ‘Wage Peace,” Judyth continued, “and the heart of my practice in writing poems that support the good…. The bad has way enough speakers!”

“Wage Peace” whirled around the internet: Judyth would visit people across the US, and find it on folk’s refrigerator doors. “The world is waiting for us to speak,” she said laughing, “our peace!”

The Cincinnati Women’s Chorus commissioned a composer to set “Wage Peace” to music and in 2005, Hill went to the premiere and heard 250 women perform her poem.

“I believe we can all do this! This is arts activism! We can get our work in the world!”

The choral version of “Wage Peace” will played at Belles Artes in conjunction with Judyth’s talk.

Judyth will be joined on stage by celebrated Mexican author, poet/writer Víctor Sahuatoba, vice-president of San Miguel PEN, longtime champion of freedom of expression and a motivating force in the San Miguel book fair, FELISMA, another contributor to the PEN anthology, Write Against Impunity.

San Miguel PEN is a center of PEN International, the largest worldwide association of writers, dedicated to the promotion of literature and the protection of freedom of expression everywhere. The 100-peso contribution to this event enables us to intervene on behalf of writers all over the world who are in trouble for their writings. For more information: or 154-9478.


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