All posts by peaceandpoetrypress

About peaceandpoetrypress

I am a feminist, poet, writer and advocate.

An improv dance program for older adults

I propose an improv dance program for older adults.  I am a 79 year old woman with friends ages 60-90.  We would have to tone it down from contemporary stage performance and make adjustments so it was gentle.  Imagine that one of us demonstrates a move straight out of our heads and everyone tries it, and the next person invents a step that comes to them from the music.  Imagine that music was no louder than it would be in your living room.  Whatever one could do would be perfectly all right.  Laughter and talking are encouraged.  Little by little we would loose our shyness and take pride on working together.  Imagine how much we would learn about one another.

We could find an Improv Dance teacher to teach us, but not lead us.  We would learn, together to work as a team in a friendly, cooperative process and use our imagination through movement.  Sometimes a person would lead, and sometimes follow.

The Economist magazine leads with the heading for April 26, 2014, “A Billion Shades of Grey,” which speaks for itself as to the potential numbers of older adults who might enjoy and support a different kind of exercise. I say, there is more to exercise than following the leader. Our brains can do more.  I would like to try it.

©Nancy Haydon Gray, June 7, 2014, Newark, Delaware

Introducing a new and beautifully illustrated book of poetry

Introducing a new book of poetry

Breaking the Surface and the Importance of Breathing, by Nancy Haydon Gray. Published by Peace and Poetry Press, Newark, Delaware, 2013.

In this beautiful, illustrated book of poems and stories, Nancy takes readers through 25 years of her life. It begins as she is newly widowed and writes, “That is the hardest thing: to hold on to my right to my own life each day instead of someone else’s.” She works her way through her husband’s proud and daunting mindset. Then, on her own, she moves to the high plains of Colorado, and does, indeed, breathe deeply, joyously. Her serious themes give way to delight in mother- and childhood, and she leaves readers at the end with a whimsical version of the creation of the earth and a plea that her brilliant friend let her be right at least once. She has built her own feminist theme that runs through her poems. She becomes more and more confident. She ceases to questions so much. And, as her title tells her readers, she truly breaks through the surface of uncertainty and breathes free and confident. She will celebrate her 80th birthday in January, 2015, and plans a big celebration. Nancy is a native of Pennsylvania and now lives in Newark, Delaware. She has lived in Helensburgh, Scotland, and Galway, the Republic of Ireland, and travels to Sydney, Australia, and Boston, Massachusetts, to visit family there. She looks for new ideas everywhere and is working on a children’s storybook and a new book of poems.

A movie to mend the social fabric of our cities

A movie to mend the social fabric of our cities

Individuals can transform at risk youth one group at a time.  Movies can change society.

have a project I would dearly love to have Dreamworks or another major Hollywood studio care about very deeply.  I would like it to be the magnitude of Saving Private Ryan.  The move will, give little black male children that vision we have heard so much about since the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech. My piano teacher told me a six year old white boy came to her house for his lesson and said, “This is going to blow your sox off,” and he sat down to play.   He was not all that well prepared but he had the hutzpah to strut in, sit down and expect approval. There is a deep undercurrent in this vignette. We give this confidence, humor and comfortable interactions to our white boys.  Who and what are doing this for the little Black boys.

What if a movie could give little black boys as young as four or five a deep, enduring sense of potential?  What if they went into a theater time and time again, and when the lights went down, and the movie started, they believed? I use the words Black boys knowing full well that Black men were called “boys” for far too long. I could use “little African American male children,” which is ponderous and takes all my passion away.   As a white woman I didn’t know that boy was an insult to an African American male to this day. Last week, II asked a black man what he thought of my idea of helping Black boys by way of movies, and he said, in a pointed but polite way, “Maybe you could find a better word than “boy.”   I am talking about little kids, and I know language matters, but really, they are what matter.

I asked Black women how it would help them if Black men were more peaceful, better educated and had more pride in themselves instead of protective braggadocio.  I asked, “What if they had quiet confidence?” Most said a simple phrase, “It would help.”   Disney has transformed little girls into princesses time and time again. Do you know any little girl who doesn’t know how to put on a tiara and stand properly, regally? The simplest princess dress transforms a little girl into a graceful monarch. Suddenly she takes charge of her world. Why not do that for the black boy child?  Dreamworks is aptly named and transforms children into amazing creatures in their minds.  Both have the  writers, animators and creativity abounding to make that movie, and more – to create that valued Black boy child so he knows he is valued.  Can you imagine a world of proud Black young men who don’t die by gunshot, ever.  Movies can make that happen, over time,by giving them a new vision. Movies can educate them, and make it smart to be smart, not smart assed.   Imagine if Dreamworks or Disney made this movie, and another one, and little by little Black youth don’t go to prison because they learned better things to do. Because of these films, Black men headed families with the same aplomb white men do.  White men succeed or fail, but they expect they can do it. It is not fair the Black little boy doesn’t grow up with the same presumption.

It is a long way to rhetoric for a five year old

I was having a delightful chat about how to print the alphabet with a five year old at the Boys and Girls Club in Newark. He was doing very well, and we got to Z before his father came to pick him up. I started to think of the long road between ABCs and composition and then rhetoric. I realized I had written examples for him that were not the way he had been taught. I told him grown ups get so careless and that he was right and I was wrong and he was just brilliant because he knew how to do them right.

He will progress from small letters, to both small and big letters which mean the same thing, to tiny words through phonics and word shapes, to reading little words and being sure he skips to the very next line, then bigger words. Think of all the steps. We can write or print carelessly because we can derive meaning from context. This child is far from that point, bit will take only a few more years until he can do the same. What wonderful, darling beings little kids are.