I parked illegally in the overfull visitor parking lot and made my way into UVU’s Sorenson center, excited and a bit nervous. Excited to be part of a groundbreaking event, to meet up with old friends and make new ones; nervous about my small part to play. A loudmouth like myself has no problem speaking to a roomful of people–but then again, I’d never read my own writing aloud before.
But as soon as I walked into the conference room my nervousness dissolved. There was Joanna Brooks, even more beautiful and confident and charismatic than I remembered her from decades before. There were a dozen writing sisters, smiling and warm and engaging even as they focused on the program ahead. There were scores of people who came to hear what we had to say. The air crackled with the energy of intention–something important was happening here; something momentous.
That sense of significance only increased as Joanna stood to begin the event with a “group poem”: each person in the room, in turn, spoke aloud the name of one of our grandmothers. My grandmother’s name is Marie Elizabeth Samuels. My grandmother’s name is Ruth Ann Holloway. My grandmother’s name is Christine Kallianes Lynard. My grandmother’s name is . . . Each name invoked the power of legacy, of generations bound through love.
Emotion ran high as the first author took the stand: Susan Scott, member of the Community of Christ, who read an excerpt from her luminous work titled Temple in a Teapot. The Kirtland Temple, she reminded us all, belongs to every individual with a Mormon background, a shared holy space. As she described her personal pilgrimage there I felt the palpable tenderness of mutual goodwill. And as other writers followed her, one by one, each a formidable talent, each a unique and vibrant voice, there came unbidden this sweet sense of hope: we are greater than the sum of our parts; we share a sisterhood that transcends dogmatic boundaries and enriches every heart that has an open door. And as long as we sustain it, this sisterhood will bind past, present, and future generations with love and power, creating an eternal and holy legacy
That hope crystallized as Joanna closed the program with her poem, Invocation, which included this perfect benediction:
Help me Father, Mother,
to love my people.
What a blessing it is
to have a people
Join us TONIGHT for the last segment of this remarkable event. You can thank me later.
Saturday, March 27, 7 p.m.: University of Utah
Fort Douglas Honors Center
1975 De Trobriand St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Parking: Lot 69, east of Chapel Glenn.
Featuring Holly Welker, Elizabeth Pinborough, Lisa Van Hadley, Victoria Burgess, Kathryn Lynard Soper, Joanna Brooks, Zoe Murdock, Cassie Eddington, Susan Scott, Judith Curtis, Whitney Nelson, Whitney Mower, Terisa Humiston, Danielle Dubrasky, Laura Nielson Baxter
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Bruno, whom we know and love in these parts as BiV. Caption, back row, L-R: Julie Nichols, Joanna Brooks, Elizabeth Pinborough, Susan Scott, Kathryn Soper, Laura Baxter, Judith Curtis. Front row, L-R: Cassie Eddington, Whitney Mower, Lisa Hadley.