An evening of spoken word & music way down in Teaneck, NJ. I’ve been invited before but this year I was finally able to make it . An annual event organized by Veterans For Peace member Walt Nygard it is held at the Puffin Cultural Forum complete with a program/poetry chapbook produced by Post Traumatic Press of Woodstock, NY. The dedication to this year’s program reads “This event is dedicated to the people who work tirelessly for peace & justice throughout the world. … to those who occupy Wall Street & sparked a movement.” Oh yeah.

Walt Nygard began the reading before a packed house with his poem “Going Downtown” to the folks occupying Zuccotti Park in New York City, then poems by Martin Espada & John Fenton. Walt served as our MC/host throughout the night.  Gil Fagiani read poems from his published books, including A Blanquito in El Barrio (Rain Mountain Press, 2009) & Chianti in Connecticut (Bordighera Press, 2010), as well as about his experience as a student at the Pennsylvania Military College.

John & Wendy Fisher read from their father, Harry Fisher‘s memoir, Legacy (Left Legacy Press) about being a labor organizer in New York City. Tamara Hayden was the first of the musical interludes with a couple songs, including “Dewey Canyon Legacy” by Ceili Murphy, inspired by Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

In addition to reading a couple of his own poems, Jan Barry also talked about the Warrior Writers Project & read a poem by Nathan Lewis. He was followed by Iraq War veteran Eli Write from the Combat Paper Project, who read the stunning “What Color Would You Paint Your Soul?”. Sam Nygard‘s poems are in the more contemporary hip-hop style, including “One Nation Under Dollar Signs.” Frank Wagner read a series of mostly short poems from his experience in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam in 1964 -1965. Joseph Giannini read a prose memoir about his work as a defense lawyer that dredged up his experience in Viet Nam. I read a couple poems from Poeming the Prompt (A.P.D., 2011), then my newest political piece, “One Day Longer” for the Occupy … movement.

Dayl Wise, publisher of Post Traumatic Press, read some of his poems solo, then performed the tender “Sun light stirs us” with his wife Alison Koffler, who then read a couple of her poems, including one of my favorites “Coyote is Coming.”

The music father-&-daughter duo of Roxanne Sharone & Joe Sharone performed songs, the original “In Poet’s Dreams” & the favorite from the 1960’s, “War, What is it Good For?” as a rousing sing-along.

Great to be among all these peaceworkers & veterans, all these poets — an honor, a privilege & an inspiration. There are more pictures from this event on my Flickr! site.