New Ashland book offers the poetry of peace

Thirty-eight local poets have done their piece for peace in a new collaborative book put out by Ashland nonprofit Peace House.

The diverse collection, titled Peace Poems, includes work by State Representative Peter Buckley, local writer Elise A. Lockhart, and two children, Mariah and Hannah Southworth, ages 16 and 12, respectively.

"There's so many different ways people can try to express their feelings about why we need peace, so that's why I liked the idea of a collaborative effort," said Lockhart, who wrote about people seeking religious freedom in Tibet.

The approximately 100-page, spiral-bound book was released earlier this month and is available for $10 at Peace House, Bloomsbury Books, Soundpeace, Bookwagon and Northwest Nature Shop, all in Ashland.

The book, which took about a year to create, features uplifting poems intended to give strength to activists, said Sally McKirgan, a Peace House Board member who also wrote a poem for the book.

"Everyone who works for peace gets depressed and feels like they are working for naught, so this book is really for inspiration," McKirgan said.

The Peace House Board would like to put out another book featuring more children's poems, if this book is successful, she said.

Proceeds from sales of the book will go to Peace House's general fund. The poets submitted their work for free.

"I think this is a wonderful little tribute to the poets in our local community. It's just a beautiful piece of heartfelt expression of peace," McKirgan said. "Some other people, I think, have that wonderful inspirational feeling in their heart and they just don't sit down and write it out, but it's amazing how wonderful it is when you write it out."

Peace House will hold a free reception for the poetry collection on First Friday, Oct. 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Ashland Community Center, 73 Winburn Way. Poets featured in the book will read their work and the Rogue Valley Peace Choir Ensemble will sing peace songs.

Some of the poets featured in the book have never been published before, but some, like Lockhart, are veteran writers.

She leads a writing group at the Ashland YMCA and normally writes creative nonfiction, but decided to turn out a poem when she heard Peace House was looking for submissions.

"When they put out the call for the peace poems I was so happy about that," Lockhart said. "I was hoping by the last part of (my poem), it leads to an inspirational level, and I'm so pleased they thought it did."

Her poem, "Tibet Freedom Trekkers' Peace Prayers," ends with the image of a man who has given his life for peace and who dies in harmony with others who have done the same.

Nancy Bardos daylights as a mixed media artist, whose work is on display at Gallery DeForest, but she also writes poetry on the side. Her poem, "Flyers All," about birds being freed from a Pet Mart cage, is published in the Peace House collection.

"Something just sort of falls upon me and so I just let it do that," Bardos said of her writing. "What falls upon me is a passion about something. Poetry seems like just such a clean way to put words together on a page.

Barbara C. Rosen, a former English professor at the University of Connecticut, who retired to Ashland, has seen firsthand the devastation war can bring.

"I lived in England during World War II in a heavily bombed city, so I have very strong feelings about war," she said.

One of Rosen's three poems in the collection describes her hometown of Bristol after a bombing. "I was there when the stars fell down like chandeliers," Rosen wrote.

She hopes her poems and the others in the book will encourage people to see peace as a possibility in all situations.

"I think what is best in people needs peace to develop. War destroys communities," she said.

Share This Story