The poets’ collaborative project appears in the the November 2021 issue of Poetry magazine. The poems were commissioned by the Witness Stones Old Lyme Affiliate and were debuted at the June 4, 2021, Witness Stones Installation in Old Lyme. We invite you to read the interview about the collaboration and the full portfolio of poems:
What birthed this collaboration?
Although the four of us did think of ourselves as a “team” of poets, our project is less a collaboration among the four of us than a collaboration of each of us with the brilliant and generous historian who was our guide: Carolyn Wakeman. Carolyn is a former professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as faculty chair of the Graduate School of Journalism and director of the Asia-Pacific Program. Our collaboration grew from a larger collaboration with the Witness Stones Project, started in 2017 in Guilford, CT, with the mission to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities. The Project provides research assistance, teacher development, and curriculum support to help middle and high school students study the history of slavery in their own communities. The students explore the lives of enslaved individuals through primary source documents, doing original historical research with the aim of remembering. And, of course, everyone involved in the project knows that we are collaborating not only with each other, but also with long-gone enslaved individuals who were denied voices during their lifetimes.