April is National Poetry Month, and in celebration, the South Pasadena Public Library invited residents of all ages to contribute to a crowdsourced poem. The idea for a South Pasadena community poem came from City of South Pasadena Poet Laureate Ron Koertge, who was inspired by young poet Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” and by National Public Radio’s Poet-in-Residence Kwame Alexander’s recent crowdsourced poem “This is Our Dream”.
Contributions for the South Pasadena poem came from kids as young as six years old to adults. Koertge wove the thoughts and lines submitted into one poem titled “A New Beginning.”
Koertge explained, “Collecting a lot of suggestions and making them into one poem meant taking things that were different colors and sizes and shapes and seeing how they’d fit together. I started out by seeing which contributions wanted to get next to each other. After a lot of shuffling and moving things around, pretty soon I had a kind of song that had a theme and refrain. Then I’d read out loud until I was happy with the melody.”
Information about the City of South Pasadena Poet Laureate and the poem, “a New Beginning,” can be found on the library’s website at www.southpasadenaca.gov/poetry. The library will wrap up the National Poetry Month celebration by publishing a recitation of “A New Beginning” by the members of the South Pasadena High School Drama Club at the end of April.
Koertge expressed his appreciation for everyone who took the time to contribute to this communal poem. “It’s common to say that writing is a lonely process: one writer and a blank sheet of paper. But I didn’t feel lonely at all working on this project. I had a lot of new friends who helped.” He and the South Pasadena Public Library recognize the following people for their contributions:
Afshin Ketabi, Anonymous, Ansel Law, Benjamin Regan, Bianca Richards, Cookie, Diala Faddoul, Jennifer Tuason, Katie Telser, Kay Mouradian, Krysten, Leo Tuason, Linda Castro, Maida Wong, Margaret Finnegan, Margo F. Newman, Marlane McAlexander Osman, Megan Bennett, Michael D. Toman, Mike Bonifer, Miss Lang, Pam Jones, Paul Kikuchi, Robin Meyer, Shana Brewer, Sharon Sprenger, Sherry Fuqua-Gilson, Sorrel Barnard, Tylene.
A New Beginning
Somebody opens her guitar case and tries a few chords.
Somebody else puts in their ear buds.
Isn’t there a song we can all agree on so everybody can sing along?
Take me out to the ballgame.
A Little League shortstop knocks dirt out of his cleats The first pitch?
Always a new beginning.
A couple unlocks the door to their new house. Boxes everywhere.
Down goes the rug. Even the movers get a hug.
A kid in a red wagon waves on his way to the sidewalk’s end. Put down roots
Sometimes a mountain is real. The first step up is a new beginning.
Climb and at the top share a bottle of water.
Sometimes mountains stand for what we
have to overcome.
A different kind of first step.
Listen to your heart doing its part.
Twenty thousand breaths a day.
Every one a magical moment to START AGAIN.
An artist with a fresh canvas decides to take some chances;
brush hovers over paint that flows and pretty soon a painting glows.
Try saying hello to everybody, and see how that feels.
There’s beauty in the word community.
A beauty that heals.
Hold the hand of someone who’s chanting a Serenity Prayer.
Being sad is no one’s whole identity.
Hold on tighter.
A coyote watches her cubs chase butterflies tipsy on milkweed.
A car speeds by on a raucous joyride.
Even underneath a rock where hate sometimes hides, some little green thing is growing.
Dawn always a new beginning. Days are done, new ones wait to carry on.
Someone at the cemetery hears a finch’s irrepressible song and takes a deep, deep breath.
Why not call the friend who moved away.
Is there something you need to say?
Be brave. Another chance to live and love.
There’s music everywhere. Move your tired feet.
The world is always waiting to dance with you.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to everybody who took the time to contribute to this communal poem.It’s common to say that writing is a lonely process: one writer and a blank sheet of paper. But I didn’t feel lonely at all working on this project. I had a lot of new friends who helped. — Ron Koertge
The South Pasadena Public Library is located at 1100 Oxley Street in South Pasadena. Although the library building is currently closed to the public for the health and safety of our community, we are offering Library Takeout, a no-contact check-out and pick-up service. Takeout hours are Monday-Thursday, 1:00-7:00 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.; Sunday, closed.
The library is currently working toward being able to safely offer modified in-person services. To be notified about service changes sign up to receive informational emails from the library here: www.southpasadenaca.gov/librarynews.