Ends on

Editor: Michael McDermott

Contributing Editors: Richard Cambridge, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Jacqueline Johnson, Marjory Wentworth

Open for submissions on June 1, 2024
All submissions are due by August 1, 2024

The election is upon us. We have been watching how rights have been  taken away and how so many things that meant progress are being attacked  and reversed. The inequitable economy is looming, evidenced by daily  suffering from food and housing insecurity.

Many issues improved over the last 80 years, but are now in danger.  Civil and reproductive rights, an awareness of colonialism, the  development of gender-positive norms all came into existence, only to be  attacked. More recently, the college campuses have erupted in support  of Palestinians and against the genocide in Gaza. The support for  Palestine is a sharp break from the past and will continue in spite of  intense repression.

This election will have consequences. Sharp divisions in society  could get worse with feared consequences arising. The threat of  authoritarianism is very real and creates a world of reaction, which  promises to drag society back before the days of the civil rights  movement and the counterculture, and to result in even more widespread  incarceration of both immigrants and others. Any efforts to address  climate change and protect the non-human will likely disappear.

Now, before the election, we are called upon to expose the attacks  and show ways that we remain strong. There is no doubt that things would  get much worse under another Trump presidency. Biden also makes it  harder with the support for Israel and other disappointments. How these  play out is rich ground for your insights about how we can get through  the next months. We expect that the submissions will reflect such  tension.

After the election there will be work, however the election goes. The  fight to regain lost rights is a powerful voice, as we see in moves to  reverse limits on and criminalize reproductive freedom in critical  states. The campus encampments will not vanish, police violence will  continue to see local and national exposure and resistance. Immigration  and concomitant conflicts will continue. Indigenous people still cry out  for freedom and sovereignty. The land needs protection and love, as do  all its creatures, of which humans are only a small part. Art is a force  for all this.

Black Earth Institute is committed to a worldview that integrates  social justice with a commitment to protecting the environment and  engaging with these issues through spiritual practice and creative art.  We encourage contributors to explore how matters of the spirit and  environmental thinking influence their observations about the coming  election.

Shaping Destiny is looking for your work reflecting the pre-election,  election, and post-election periods. We are looking for poetry, prose  (creative nonfiction, fiction, and flash essays), graphic art and  images, wall murals, songs and music videos, and interviews (to be  approved before).

Issue Editor

Michael McDermott is a retired physician and social  activist. He has lived at Brigit Rest in Black Earth, Wisconsin for over  30 years. During this time he has worked to develop Brigit Rest into a  retreat for artists and activists based on a reverence for the land and  as a setting for Celtic influenced spirituality. He has provided Brigit  Rest as home for the Black Earth Institute. As a social activist,  Michael McDermott has been involved in the key issues of the last 40  years, including civil rights, labor causes, opposition to war, woman’s  struggle for equality, and protection of the earth from environmental  degradation and destruction. He also spent time in Nicaragua teaching  medicine and helping people in the town of Esteli to plan and build a  health clinic, returning to Chicago to raise money to assist in  successfully build the clinic. He is committed to bringing a spiritual  awareness to the pressing need to change society. He sees the profound  importance of placing his work within the experience and suffering of  ordinary people.

Contributing Editors

Richard Cambridge’s poetry and theater productions  address controversial themes on the American political landscape. His  poetry has appeared in The Paterson Literary Review, Nantucket Journal,  Asheville Poetry Review and others. He was a member of the Boston  Championship Slam Team in 1992, and won the Masters Slam at the National  Poetry Slam in 1997. His awards include The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize  and he was a finalist for a residency at the Fine Arts Work Shop in  Provincetown, MA. He is a long-time resident of Cambridge, MA where he  curates the Poets’ Theater at Club Passim. In 2003 he received the  Cambridge Peace and Justice Award for the contributions of his art and  activism.

Ann Fisher-Wirth’s eighth book is Into the Chalice of Your Thoughts,  a poetry/photography collaboration with Wilfried Raussert, with  translations into Spanish by the Women in Translation group (Guadalajara  University Press, 2023). Her seventh book is Paradise Is Jagged (Terrapin Books, 2023) and her fifth, a poetry/photography collaboration with Maude Schuyler Clay, is Mississippi. With Laura-Gray Street, she coedited The Ecopoetry Anthology and is coediting The Ecopoetry Anthology: Volume II (forthcoming,  Trinity University Press, 2025). A senior fellow of the Black Earth  Institute, Ann has had Fulbrights to the University of Fribourg,  Switzerland, and Uppsala University, Sweden; and artist residencies at  Djerassi, Hedgebrook, The Mesa Refuge, Camac, and Storyknife. Her awards  and prizes include three poetry fellowships from the Mississippi Arts  Commission, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize,  the 2023 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Poetry from the Mississippi  Arts Commission, and fifteen Pushcart nominations. She retired in 2022  from the University of Mississippi, where she taught in the MFA program  and directed the undergraduate minor in Environmental Studies.

Jacqueline Johnson is a multi-disciplined artist creating in poetry, fiction writing and fiber arts. She is the author of A Woman’s Season, on Main Street Rag Press, and A Gathering of Mother Tongues, published by White Pine Press, and is the winner of the Third Annual White Pine Press Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in This Is the Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poets,” edited by Kwame Alexander, Little Brown, February 2024; Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era,” Routledge 2020; The Slow Down, American Public Media, October 16, 2019 and “Pank: Health and Healing Folio” 2019. Ms. Johnson has received fellowships from the New York Foundation of the Arts, the Mid Atlantic Writers Association’s Creative Writing Award in Poetry and McDowell Colony for the Arts. She is a Cave Canem fellow, VONA Fiction fellow and BEI fellow 2018-2021. Works in progress include “The Privilege of Memory,” and “How to Stop a Hurricane,” a collection of short stories and “This America,” a poetry collection. She is a graduate of New York University and the City University of New York. A native of Philadelphia, PA., she resides in Brooklyn, New York.

Marjory Wentworth is the New York Times bestselling author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley). Her books of poetry include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle and New and Selected Poems. Her poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize seven times. She is also the co-writer of We Are Charleston, Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, with Herb Frazier and Dr. Bernard Powers and Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights, with Juan E. Mendez. She is co-editor with Kwame Dawes of Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, and the author of the prizewinning children’s story Shackles.  Wentworth is the South Carolina Director of Poetry in Precincts. She  served as the poet laureate of South Carolina from 2003–2017. In 2020,  she was named a National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for  Me Advocate. Wentworth teaches courses in writing, social justice, and  banned books at The College of Charleston, where she is part of the  Social Justice Working Group for the Center for the Study of Slavery and  the Afghan Refugee Circle of Welcome.

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