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If you’ve been to one of our C21 programs, you know we are not just about inspirational singing. Our programs weave in poetry and messages of social justice, consistent with our mission of empowering those who need us most through beautiful, uplifting music, but also through words that elevate the human spirit. Moving forward past 2020, we’re excited to showcase our singers each presenting their personal interpretations of a poem. 

Some poems will be familiar to our supporters, but most will be new. They include verses by Mary Oliver and Clarissa Pinkola Estes, whose works graced past C21 programs, as well as Elizabeth Alexander, Nikki Giovanni, Victoria Safford, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Nobel Prize laureate Wislawa Szymborska, among others. Please join us as we present relevant voices from the present and past as we strive to convey the power of expression, from the personal to the universal, especially in these times of continued social distance.

"Kindness" - Naomi Shihab Nye

C21 member Carolyn Ten Eyck performs the poem "Kindness" by poet and educator Naomi Shihab Nye. Naomi Shihab Nye writes vividly and eloquently about travel and childhood, identifying universal experiences through the specific. In 2019, she was designated the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

"You Were Made For This" - Clarissa Pinkola Estés


C21 member Karen Barbee-Dixon performs the piece "You Were Made For This" by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés. An American writer and psychoanalyst, Dr Estés is the author of New York Times bestseller Women Who Run with the Wolves.

"Continue" - Maya Angelou


C21 member Tammy Stump performs Maya Angelou's "Continue." 

"Making Peace" - Denise Levertov


C21 member Martha Conlon performs performs Denise Levertov's poem "Making Peace." A British-born poet who spent most of her adult life in the United States, Levertov was greatly influenced by the Black Mountain school of poetry. Politics and war (she was a vocal objector to the Vietnam War) feature heavily in her work, as does religion.

"Caged Bird" - Maya Angelou


C21 member Czerina Salud performs Maya Angelou's "Caged Bird." Maya Angelou was an American poet and civil rights activist. From the poet's 1983 collection Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?, this poem contrasts captivity and rage with freedom.

"Hallelujah" - Mary Oliver


C21 member Debbie LeGare performs Mary Oliver's "poem Hallelujah."

"We Are Virginia Tech" - Nikki Giovanni


C21 member Jess Vogt performs "We Are Virginia Tech." Written by longtime Virginia Tech faculty member and poet Nikki Giovanni in response to the 2007 mass shooting on campus, this piece was first performed at the school's convocation that year.

"Still I Rise" - Maya Angelou


C21 member Aisha Ellis performs "Still I Rise" by writer and activist Maya Angelou. A renowned poet and memoirist, Angelou received more than more than 50 honorary degrees throughout her career.

"Our Passion for Justice" - Carter Heyward


C21 member Terri Schultz performs "Our Passion for Justice" by Reverend Carter Heyward. One of the Philadelphia Eleven,  Heyward is a feminist writer and theologian.

"The New Colossus" - Emma Lazarus

C21's Diane Deckert performs the famous poem that has come to be synonymous with the Statue of Liberty, "The New Colossus" by poet Emma Lazarus.

"Phase One" - Dilruba Ahmed

C21's Lindsay Bruce performs poet and educator Dilruba Ahmed's poem, "Phase One."

"The Journey" - Mary Oliver

C21's Amanda Thomas performs  Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey."

"Wild Geese" - Mary Oliver

C21's Kate Burch performs poet and nature lover Mary Oliver's beloved poem, "Wild Geese."

"To be of use" - Marge Piercy

C21 member Joan Pederson performs writer and feminist Marge Piercy's poem. 

"Possibilities" - Wislawa Szymborska

C21 member Erin Fox performs a poem by Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska. 

"The Small Work In The Great Work" - Reverend Victoria Safford

C21 member Lauren Schachter performs Reverend Victoria Safford's essay "The Small Work In The Great Work" from the collection The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Perseverance and Hope in Troubled Times. 

"On Beauty" - Kahlil Gibran

For our next C21 Poetry Project installment, member Muriel Reymond performs a piece by the poet and artist Kahlil Gibran.

"Phenomenal Woman" - Maya Angelou

For our second poetry project installment,

C21 member Judy Earley performs a piece by poet Maya Angelou. 

"Eagle Poem" - Joy Harjo

In the first video for our poetry project,

C21 member Lynnette Li performs a piece by United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

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