Evelyn happens to be my favourite Ottawa poet and a very dear friend. Evelyn was born a German prisoner of war in Norton, located close to Harare in what is now Zimbabwe. As a child she ran free on a farm in Tanzania, and later travelled widely. She chose Canada as her multi-cultural base; however, her work often takes her "home" to Africa. Evelyn has recorded a couple CDs of her poetry which are available via her web site.
Now some of you may think I'm a bit biased, and I agree I am, because Grateful We're Not Dead work with Evelyn quite frequently at peace related events. My all-time favourite poem of Evelyn's is The Children's Peace Plan and I always enjoy hearing her perform it. She did it recently at the Southminster United Church during the protest against the 2009 CANSEC Arms Show and it was caught on video. So for your listening pleasure and without further ado, here is Evelyn:
The Children's Peace Plan
(©Evelyn Voigt 2001)
Squeezing through a moon beam
she sat upon a star,
and looked down at the earth below
so very, very far.
She looked at all those children
Caught in the wars of man.
She heard their frightened voices
and came up with a plan.
In moments she was down there,
Whispering to each their name:
In China and in Germany,
in Azerbaijan and Spain;
In Russia and in Canada,
in Kenya and Peru;
Guyana and America,
Tibet and Timbuktu;
In Gaza and Jerusalem;
In Cairo and in Rome;
In Serbia and Croatia,
Burundi and at home.
The children's eyes grew wider,
as she told them of her plan.
Then solemnly they joined her.
Some walked. Some limped. Some ran.
She welcomed them with radiance.
She armed them with her smile.
She looked towards the cannons,
stacked mile, on mile, on mile.
She found herself a blossom,
a single blossom white,
Before she chose her cannon,
and sat on it, upright.
Above the cannon's mouth she sat,
Her smile as soft as dew;
And when the soldiers came to fire,
She said, "I welcome you".
And the children all took measure.
And the children chose their gun.
And the children smiled their magic smiles.
And the soldiers came undone.
They talked about their troubles.
They talked about their dreams.
The more they heard,
the more it seems:
Their problems weren’t that different.
Their hopes were much the same.
And, somehow, guns and warfare
seemed silly, tragic, lame.
Instead they chose to listen,
to plan, to heal, to please.
And the guns stood ever silent.
And the world was bathed in peace.
Squeezing through the moon beam,
she sat upon a star
and looked down at the earth below,
so very, very far.
She looked at all those children,
who sang and laughed and ran.
She thought about past battles,
and blessed her joyful plan.
So from Between Keyboard and Chair, I wish you peace.