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You can see Bob Sprague's resume at www.yourarlington.com/participate/17/2396-resume-bob-sprague

No. 137: Red Letter Poems 3.0: 'You have been paid for'

UPDATED Nov. 25: Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s poet laureate, sought submissions in February 2020 from Arlington residents to contribute to "a rather unconventional, utterly delightful way to inject poetry into the everyday." It was to remain secret until its debut during April’s National Poetry Month. Then the coronavirus hit. In June 2021, he offers Red Letters 3.0.

PUBLISHED:  I was asked to write an essay for Askold Melnyczuk’s Arrowsmith Journal about what I learned from the first year of the Red Letter Project.  It also became a meditation about the relationship between poet and reader.  If you’d like to take a look, here is a link – arrowsmithpress.com/community-of-voices -- and you’ll also be able to check out the variety of marvelous literary projects that appear under Askold’s Arrowsmith imprint.  Enjoy!

Steven RatinerSteven Ratiner / David Andrews photo 

The Red Letter Poem Project

The Red Letters 3.0: A New Beginning (Perhaps)   

At the outset of the Covid pandemic, when fear was at its highest, the Red Letter Project was intended to remind us of community: that, even isolated in our separate homes, we could still face this challenge together.  As Arlington’s Poet Laureate, I began sending out a poem of comfort each Friday, featuring the fine talents from our town and its neighbors.  Because I enlisted the partnership of seven local arts and community organizations, distribution of the poems spread quickly – and, with subscribers sharing and re-posting the installments, soon we had readers, not only throughout the Commonwealth, but across the country.  And I delighted in the weekly e-mails I’d receive with praise for the poets; as one reader recently commented: “You give me the gift of a quiet, contemplative break—with something to take away and reflect on.” 

Then our circumstance changed dramatically again: following the murder of George Floyd, the massive social and political unrest, and the national economic catastrophe, the distress of the pandemic was magnified.  Red Letter 2.0 announced that I would seek out as diverse a set of voices as I could find – from Massachusetts and beyond – so that their poems might inspire, challenge, deepen the conversation we were, by necessity, engaged in.

Now, with widespread vaccination, an economic rebound, and a shift in the political landscape, I intend to help this forum continue to evolve – Red Letter 3.0.  For the last 15 months, I’ve heard one question again and again: when will we get back our old lives?  It may pain us to admit it, but that is little more than a fantasy.  Our lives have been altered irrevocably – not only our understanding of how thoroughly interdependent we are, both locally and globally, but how fragile and utterly precious is all that we love.  Weren’t you bowled over recently by how good it felt just to hug a friend or family member?  Or to walk unmasked through a grocery, noticing all the faces?

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Help say goodbye to Nick Page on Dec. 8

Arlyn Roffman, who provides publicity for the Arlington-based Mystic Chorale does not want you to miss Nick Page's final concert. She tells you why.

Nick Lee Daum 200 3822Nick Page in Lee Daum photo

Mystic Chorale bids adieu to founder Nick Page in "The Heart Dances, the Soul Sings," set for Dec. 8 in Lexington.

In his last season before moving to St. Louis, Page leads 150 singers in a concert packed with emotional punch that will lift the spirits of singers and audience alike.

The program ranges from rousing gospel, South African and Israeli songs to a new Page piece, "HaLev Roked" (The Heart Dances).

The performance ends with Nick’s anthem, "A Promise I Will Keep, Every Day is a Day of Thanksgiving" (with Mystic alumni) and a heartfelt farewell song for Nick.

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Local police again raising funds for cancer research

For the fourth consecutive year, the Arlington Police Department is taking part in No-Shave November to support the fight against cancer by raising awareness and funds for cancer research. Arlington residents may also contribute if they choose.

RateauMartinJPG300CroppedOptimizedOfficer Corey Rateau and Sgt. David Martin participated in the No-Shave November challenge last year. / photo courtesy of the APD

Through the campaign, members of the department may forgo facial-hair restrictions during November by donating or raising $100. All funds raised will go toward cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital, , the APD said.

The APD has supported the No Shave November initiative in the past in honor of retired Lt. Dan Kelly, who fought cancer for several years. He died in May at the age of 58.

The department has set a fundraising goal of $5,000. The department has already raised more than half its goal and by the end of the month hopes to exceed $5,000 to provide even greater support to Mass. General Hospital.

Community members can donate to the Arlington Police Department’s no-shave fund-raiser for 2022 by clicking this link.

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