In November 2019, Luther Allen invited four poets to join him in creating a series of linked poems on a spiritual theme for the next SpeakEasy. No one could have imagined either the scope of the project or the many challenges 2020 would set in the way.

The idea is quite simple: one person writes a poem; the second person writes a poem in response; the third person writes a poem in response to poem 2, etc. It had been a very successful approach in 2014, when SpeakEasy 14: String Theory presented un-themed linked poems by five poets.

In his invitation, Luther suggested that each poet would have about a week to respond to the poem they had received, and that SpeakEasy 27 would probably happen in April or May. All of the invited poets — Susan Alexander, Bruce Beasley, Jennifer Bullis, and Dayna Patterson — accepted the invitation and the writing commenced.

By the end of the first round of five poems, the word pandemic had surfaced. It soon became apparent that schedules could not be imposed on the shape, content, or duration of these poems. Nine months and 60 pages of poetry later, SpeakEasy 27: A Spiritual Thread stands as a poetic testament to a year quite unlike any other.

Over the coming months, the poets will read and comment on their poems in a series of free readings on Zoom. The first reading will be on Saturday, November 14, 2020, at 7:00pm Pacific. To participate, send an email to othermindpress@gmail.com. You will receive sign-in information by email.

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