The Poetic Hill

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The Poets’ Corner@Tunnicliff’s attracted a crowd of poetry lovers on May 1 who braved the wet weather to hear readings both by well-known local poets and by newcomers who participated in an open-mic session. The event, held in conjunction with the Literary Hill BookFest, was hosted by Jona Colson, whose first poetry collection, “Said Through Glass,” won the 2018 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House (WWPH). His work has appeared in numerous publications and he is also the poetry editor of WWPH’s anthology, “This Is What America Looks Like: Poetry and Fiction from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.” 

Jona Colson emcees the 2022 Poets’ Corner@Tunnicliff’s reading.

In addition to the readings, Colson used the gathering to create a crowd-sourced poem. “Inspired by the community poems at many Split This Rock readings, I wanted to generate an on-site poem during Poets’ Corner,” he explains. “It was an amazing crowd; even though it was pouring rain most of the time, the energy was palpable. I think the energy and creativity of the day is reflected in this poem.”  

Kindness at Poets’ Corner: 

A Crowd Poem Created at

Poets’ Corner@Tunnicliff’s, 5/1/22

The first line is from the poem, “Kindness,”

by Naomi Shihab Nye (adapted by Jona Colson)

Before you know what kindness really is,

You must know the air

And consider everything the air has moved through.

Consider the escaped air of the gasp

At an unexpected gift.

Before you know meanness, consider

The galaxy, the black hole, the metaverse,

Then read a poem.

Newton’s gravity should plummet from one line,

And a red apple should shatter beneath your shoe.

Consider your inside self, relishing in

Momentary hope of dance and the end of dance.

Do you hear me? Is this thing on? And on.

The boats against the current as the rain

And clouds clear up slowly as we lean

Into words in the shadow of the Capitol.

The words of poets make the pandemic fade

And let us not face into shades of fear, but reach

Like those green tendrils in the light

Like those giants that reach, defying gravity

And beasts to show what joy looks like.

Know cruelty because cruelty knows everyone. 

Walk a mile in the rain to attend a poetry reading.

Be missed and remember love and how it will surround you

And the obsession of kindness.

If you would like to have your poem considered for publication, please send it to klyon@literaryhillbookfest.org. (There is no remuneration.)