The Community Poem is a unique and beloved tradition in Carrboro, North Carolina. This collaborative poem is created by the people of Carrboro, who come together to share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences through the written word. The project is led by local poets and artists, who guide participants in the creation of a poem that reflects the community's collective voice.
The Community Poem is a powerful example of the way that poetry can bring people together and foster a sense of community. It allows individuals to express their own perspectives while also contributing to a larger conversation about what it means to live in Carrboro. Through the creation of the poem, participants are able to connect with others and to explore their own ideas in a supportive and inclusive environment.
Each year, the Community Poem is displayed in a public space, where it can be read and enjoyed by all members of the community. The poem serves as a reminder of the power of words and the importance of coming together to create something meaningful and beautiful.
The Community Poem is just one example of the many ways that poetry is celebrated in Carrboro. It is a testament to the town's commitment to artistic expression and its deep appreciation for the written word. Whether you are a seasoned poet or a newcomer to the art form, the Community Poem offers a unique opportunity to connect with others and to contribute to a vibrant and inclusive creative community.
Music in Poetry
United Poetry Service
Thank you to everyone who participated!
We want to acknowledge that we gather as poets on the traditional land of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit as well.
Each community poem prompts us to acknowledge the natural space around us as a key part of its creation. We encourage all participants to take an active role to learn more about the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation via obsn.org.
- Our poets were charged with writing a line that had either 1) a reference to Carrboro, or some other place or geographical feature in North Carolina, or 2) includes at least one of the words from this year’s theme, United, Poetry, or Service.
- In putting together the submissions from 15 poets, thematically the lines coupled together as a resonant, striving community prayer. In the lines I see the effects of social distancing, and how each poet’s words almost magnetically desire to pull other lines closer to them.
2021 Contributors to the Community Poem are:
Joan Barasovska, Sam Barbee, Abigail Browning, Maura High, Karen Howard, Paul Jones, Chad Knuth, Kai Love, Shelly Lyons, Gary Phillips, Sara Spalding, Susan Spalt, Adam Speen, Kimberly Willardson, and Liza Wolff-Francis.
Psalm of Shared Space
The land unites us, the Occaneecchi and those who came by choice, those who came by force.
Our voices a poetry, We unite through palms pressed together. Shoulder to shoulder we walk in tandem,
the poetry I’ve created has created me.
The Me-into-We alchemy fortifies community with unity–
two moons united, and two comets untied–a suffuse of lights, shining surfaces, silent service.
Our poetry is like roots of trees connecting to each other in a tangled mass of hope,
longleaf pines, rooted in service to the sky.
Logic is the language of the mind, but poetry is the sound of the soul
on Carrboro’s winding path. We feast in her jade palaces, worship in her many temples of thrift–
our letters unite, each fold follows hands to doors to hands, the past unwrapping in the present,
freedom flows like poetry prose inked succinctly and stained to service the united states of dreams.
At the dark edge of tomorrow and never again, poetry reaches out, ushers in, leads back home—
United States Poetry Service: special delivery during snow, rain, or gloom of night.
We slow down, write poetry with hope and compassion, a small gesture, a small service. In Carrboro
poetry is a service; poetry unites us as a people.
Poetry for a Change
A community poem written for the 2020 West End Poetry Festival with contributions from Akindele Bilikis, Abigail Browning, Jay Bryan, Peter Burian, Gail Chesson, Ralph Earle, Joshua Factor, John Goodie, Jackie Helvey, Maura High, John Hoppenthaler, Kai Love, Lynda Myers, Alice Osborn, Gary Phillips, Susan Spalt, Dee Stribling, and Doug Stuber.
Guest Edited by Elly Bookman
I climb the spires and ladders of Grandfather Mountain’s truth
with my family this fall Saturday.
Though not where the root is but the graft has taken.
Home is Durham. The fruits are endless.
Each scrap of land here, each dwelling, has its story and its future.
Bring me the change, from color to color, from dust to the dance of rain.
Change comes like sea spray, tireless as red-eyed vireos.
Preacher Bird soothes splintered ways. The changes
for the freed Black man have been but a trickle. It is time for the rivers to flow.
We age, our wrinkles deepen, stone-thrown ripples in the Yadkin River.
We ride the wind of change, holding on, laughing and crying
until we are flung into new selves. Our lives are forever metamorphosis.
Change is the only constant, as Carrboro’s woods and creeks,
its roads and roofs can tell you. Caswell county cornstalks
call in wind to primed tobacco ghosts.
The opposite of change is stagnation, stalling.
Revisionist history no more, please tell the truth about what happened
at the African shores. Change removes all heart yet inspires heights.
Sing to Carrboro, no one silent, no one unheard.
The beauty of nature is perpetually changing, but
the beauty of the universe is eternal.
Poetry unites our hearts and our heads
as we work for change. Days dawn bright with hope.
Open your eyes and we will see it together.