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

No. 112: Red Letter Poems 3.0: The Book of Sorrows

UPDATED May 27: 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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Police keep watch over schools, express sorrow

apd logoChief Flaherty

Police Chief Julie Flaherty and the men and women of the Arlington Police Department join in the collective sorrow felt by the nation in the wake of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas.

“The loss of life, especially innocent young children, represents an unimaginable loss that reverberates in all corners of the nation,” Flaherty said in a May 25 statement.

The Arlington Police Department is in constant communication with the Arlington Public Schools. The department will have an increased and visible presence in Arlington Public Schools this week.

The APD school resource officer, Bryan White, will be visiting all of Arlington's schools today and is available to answer any questions or concerns.

The police department and school district are available not only to ensure safety but also to provide an abundant adult presence at the schools as a resource to children who have questions and worries and to provide support to the hard working faculty and staff.

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Town of Arlington to LGBTQIA+ students: You belong

Submitting the following news summary including opinion about a community conversation were Susan Ryan-Vollmar, cochair of the LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Commission, and Christine Carney, cochair of the Human Rights Commission.
Dr. Rod MacNeal at community conversationDr. Roderick MacNeal at community conversation.

We’re only a quarter of the way through 2022, but the year has already been a tough one for LGBTQIA+ people, especially transgender children and adolescents and their parents.

Lawmakers across the country have filed a record-breaking 238 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills, with discriminatory policies put in place in Texas and anti-LGBTQIA+ measures signed into law in Tennessee, Florida and Alabama. Most of these measures aim to silence LGBTQIA+ children and families, prevent transgender kids from playing sports and block gender-diverse children from receiving medically necessary health care.

But the town of Arlington recently sent a different message altogether to its LGBTQIA+ children, adolescents and families.

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YOUR VIEW: Opinions: Poetry, police, Alewife, news, Minuteman, T, Roe, Ukraine, letters

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Wally greets Marianne Comeau at Del's. UPDATED May 21: You may have seen Marianne Comeau doling out paddles for canoes at Spy Pond in summers past. Or at the Ed Burns rec center working with kids. Or simply jogging around town, something she has done since 1979. The affable friend to police…
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