Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Green Plum Finally Ripens

  There's a big project going public today, that I could have been part of, but declined to join.

  A shining group of artists, poets, storytellers and musicians came together to create a super-duper care package for the hungry and disenfranchised of the Sahel region of Niger. It's a mulitplicity of events, really; an art auction, an anthology, a radio show, and more.

 It's called Song of Sahel, and it will, with your help, bring much-needed relief to people starved by both drought, and the painful effects of war. A great deal of beauty, easily available, awaits those who wish to partake, and in so doing, help. I urge you to check it out, for there is sure to be something that moves you-- a gorgeous print, a lovely phrase or sentiment, haunting music.

 I can't lay claim to any of that beauty, and I haven't been clearly sure why: I am an artist, a musician, a poet, songwriter, writer. I could have contributed somewhere, somehow, but never did. Thinking on it last night, I finally understood why.

 At first, I was left speechless by the plight of the people in Niger-- the starving children that had been born there, the refugees fleeing in fear of war, over the Malian border, placing stress on an already stressed area, not because they wanted to leave their homes and country; but because it was their only choice for even a slim hope of survival.

Unlike some in our bountiful country, I have been relatively poor most of my life, and as an adult, I have gone hungry. But not for days on end. Not without hope of getting through it and into a time of plenty, again. Not like these children and their parents, their communities-- whole communities, ransomed by nature and perhaps incompetent leadership, to a fate of constant aching emptiness.

Such huge and hollow realms of need do not inspire me to lyrical flights of melody-- they leave me in the silence of grief, the silence of frustrated helplessness. I have no financial resources to help assuage this great, grave ocean of loss deepening so far away from me. So I was struck dumb, and then lost the daily use of the internet, so that my understanding of the project faltered-- sort of disengaged.

 There were other issues, too. Unable to research the beginnings of the project, I feared to partner myself and my talents, however tenuously, with any organization that could be religiously affiliated: forcing your view of the universe on people so hungry that they have no choice but to take all you give them, food and foreign morality, is to me a foul and evil thing, and the basis for many a further evil along the way. I had never heard of Plan International before; I knew that someone working for them in Niger had provided the original inspiration for SOS. So there might be a connection, a slight one. The very possibility made me cautious, and I was afraid to find out it might be true.

 Now, at this last moment, I have been able to allay those worries, and to see fully why my mind and heart weren't ready to commit to Song of Sahel. I felt I had nothing to give. And I didn't, I don't, but for this... telling you that my reaction to the tragedy may have been quiet shock and useless dismay, but there are artists of the first water  that had a better reaction. People like Sue Lobo, Tonia Marie Houston, Shirani Rajapakse, Marta Pelrine-Bacon, and Giorgio Mostarda-- and so many more dedicated creative minds and hearts. They have given deeply of themselves, to end the hunger and celebrate the strength of Sahel. Go to the link on the title above, or to the Plum Tree, and you'll find those gifts of verse, line and tune.

 Peace, Mari

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