Thank You Doug Rawlings and UMF…write a letter to the WALL!

Yesterday I taught a class at in the Emery Center surrounded by the Talking Walls illustrations. I began the class  by asking  Cathy Wimet’s students what they thought the number one question people have asked me about my book Talking Walls.  A student asked  me if the question is about where I got the idea for the book. I said yes and  told them the inspiration is right here and will tell you all about it.    Doug  Rawlings, who  worked at UMF for over 25 years, talked to the students about his work with Veterans For Peace http://www.veteransforpeace.org/  and told the students the story behind his poem The Wall, the inspiration for  my book.  He read the poem and invited students to write letters to the wall as part of project begun in 2015   http://www.veteransforpeace.org/pressroom/news/2015/04/10/writing-wall-join-our-memorial-day-letter-writing-campaign. I told the students that I heard Doug read his poem  at an assembly at Cony High School and  right after he read it an idea popped into my head and I turned to my friend Elizabeth and told her that I just thought of an idea for a book about walls around the world and the stories they tell!
IMdougPG
The Wall

Descending into this declivity
dug into our nation’ s capitol
by the cloven hoof
of yet another one of our country’ s
tropical wars

Slipping past the names of those
whose wounds
refuse to heal

Slipping past the panel where
my name would have been
could have been
perhaps should have been

Down to The Wall’ s greatest depth
where the beginning meets the end
I kneel

Staring through my own reflection
beyond the names of those
who died so young

Knowing now that The Wall
has finally found me \endash
58,000 thousand-yard stares
have fixed on me
as if I were their Pole Star
as if I could guide their mute testimony
back into the world
as if I could connect all those dots
in the nighttime sky
As if I
could tell them
the reason why

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