I’d say my worlds collided but that would imply some destruction and there was only growth. In 2023, my professional and writing worlds gently brushed past each other so that they not only overlapped in subject matter, but also people started showing up in both worlds and there was some confusion between my pen name and my family name.
In early 2023, I was promoting the spring edition of Word-to-Action, where I gather poets at a retreat in my home to write climate-themed poems. I hosted a public zoom event with Camille Dungy in which I talked to her about the importance of science in poetry and all writing about the important things. (https://cathywittmeyer.com/word-to-action-2023s-online-reading-was-a-real-tonic/). Then we read poems in community about nature, crisis and love. At work, I was putting the finishing touches on the latest sustainability report of our company: rechecking facts and figures and fine-tuning the graphics with the marketing folks. A big part of the sustainability report is the impact on climate: my worlds came close.
At the start of Spring, I became involved with the SDG Allianz in Liechtenstein when I attended a talk at Haus Gutenberg that asked, “Do you also want to put your life on a climate course?” (my answer was a confident yes). I met Ruth there and we began a very fruitful discussion about promoting the SDGs in Liechtenstein through the SDG Allianz. I discovered that a good friend was organizing the Ich die Zukunft project with the architect who did the wood construction of our ecological house finished in 2011. Intersecting atmospheres.
I signed Word-to-Action up for a student poetry contest on SDG 13: Climate Action. The company I work for became a sponsor (https://cathywittmeyer.com/wta-blog-15-oct-23-contest-results/ ). My worlds were overlapping. Meanwhile, back in March, I was using poetry to explain to a business masters class at the Universidad Navarro in Pamplona how I made it through some very personally hard/traumatic times to wind up with 3 educational degrees, an enduring career and a rewarding family life. I tell them how poetry gets me through each day through writing, reading and the mindful exercise of memorization and recital. In November, I conducted a similar exercise via Zoom, with a class of 120 female business masters students at The Vedica Scholars Programme for Women in New Delhi, India. Both of these opportunities to connect to adult student learners came through a dear and talented friend who teaches courses at these schools. The generosity of the students and my friend was enthralling.
Meanwhile, I was invited to primary and high school classes at all levels locally to introduce students to Word-to-Action, the poetry contest, and climate-themed poetry writing. We wrote collective poems to better and lesser success as I fine-tuned my classroom engagement skills (a work in progress). These classroom workshops happened in April, May and June and again in September. The poetry contest at Ich die Zukunft was on 17 September (https://www.instagram.com/p/CxUXthxoNh0/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA== ).
Also meanwhile, in the intervening month of June, the Word-to-Action retreat concluded with a wonderful celebration at Haus Gutenberg where we read the poems we wrote together, including the Grades 1 – 2 class from ISR in Buchs. The reception lasted long and we left with new friends. (https://cathywittmeyer.com/word-to-action-will-be-better-next-timeif-better-is-even-possible/). The retreat concluded with new and deeper friendships and a commitment to keep the magic together with the same core poetic crew for future retreats at 18 month intervals. The next retreat will be January 2025.
Look for the Word-to-Action anthology that will come out in 2024! We will distribute it at WtoA events among contributors and at production cost with a gentle encouragement to contribute to a local climate-related charity for the public. The table of contents spans 2020 to 2023 Word-to-Action events and includes 29 exceptional contributors.
~ Cathy Wittmeyer 2023