Friday, January 16, 2015

U.S. Department of Arts and Culture Hosts “People’s State of the Union” Events in 150 Communities Across the Country

Following President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 20, the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC)* will host a week of events in schools, theaters and community centers across the country in which citizens will contribute their own stories to form the first-ever People’s State of the Union (PSOTU).

What if the annual State of the Union

was not a speech spoken by one,

but a poem created by many?

At story circles convened in over 150 communities between January 23-30, participants will gather to share stories reflecting on the state of the union as experienced in their own lives and communities. As a way to augment the President’s annual speech, these stories will be collected and shared through an online portal, supplemented by commentary from the USDAC National Cabinet. Inspired by these stories, a group of award-winning poets will create and deliver a Poetic Address to the Nation, broadcast live from New York City’s Bowery Poetry Club on February 1, 2015. Contributing poets include: Margaret Randall, Patricia Smith, Bob Holman, Luis Rodriguez, E. Ethelbert Miller, Claudia Rankine, Joy Harjo, Eileen Myles, and many others.

The People’s State of the Union is the first in a series of new civic rituals planned by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture.

For Tucson area residents:

WHAT:     People’s State of the Union story circle
WHO:      Hundreds of individuals and civic organizations, partial list below
WHEN:     Monday January, 26 - 6pm-8pm

WHERE:     Citizens Artist Collective 44 W 6th St. (enter on 9th Ave. side) Studio #13
Attend Event:
Online Conversation: #PSOTU, #USDAC

“We're holding these events across the country because we believe that democracy is a conversation, not a monologue,” said USDAC Chief Instigator Adam Horowitz. “Instead of a speech spoken by one, the Poetic Address is a work of art created by many.”

USDAC Minister of Poetry and Endangered Language Protection Bob Holman, an award-winning writer and creator of Language Matters (soon to be broadcast on PBS), is leading creation of the collaborative address inspired by the stories.

A small sampling of participating communities and organizations includes:
See the Full Map Here:
  • Ferguson Youth Initiative (Ferguson, MO)
  • Gender and Sexuality Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago, IL)
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR)
  • Esperanza Peace and Justice Center (San Antonio, TX)
  • Westmoor High School, 10th Grade English (Daly, CA)
  • United Caring Services Homeless Shelter (Evansville, IN)
  • Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City (Overland Park, KS)
  • Migrant Education Program (Salinas, CA)
  • University of Nebraska Social Practice Coalition (Lincoln, NE)
  • Bronx Music Heritage Center Lab (Bronx, NY)
  • Wise Fool Circus (Peñasco, NM)
“Coming out of a year as divisive as this past one,” Horowitz continued, “it is more important than ever that we forge new bonds of empathy by truly listening to one another’s stories.” Anyone who wants to take part but can’t attend a story circle is invited to submit a story online during the week of Jan. 23-30. For more information the first annual People’s State of the Union and Poetic Address, please visit

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