“Confluence” of music, literature, nature and spirituality from the Meridian Herald – WABE

Meridian Herald is an Atlanta organization that combines music, history, literature, science and spirituality. Their primary performance instrument is the Meridian Chorale, conducted by Dr. Steven Darcy. “Confluence 2022” is a week-long event presented by Meridian Herald, and from September 10-17, they will host several events focusing on environmental justice and climate change through the lens of the arts.

A new oratorio by composer Steven Darcy will premiere at Symphony Hall on Saturday evening. To talk about their contributions, three “Confluence 2022” attendees joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom, including acclaimed author and New York Times opinion contributor Margaret Renkl, the award-winning Georgia-based author Janisse Ray; and Brenda Bynum, famed Atlanta-based actress and retired Emory professor.

Interview Highlights:

An oratorio inspired by “The Marshes of Glynn” by Sydney Lanier:

“I was fortunate enough to go to Ossabaw Island in 2006 with a small group of Steven Darcy supporters, and it was to create an atmosphere in which he could begin the profound work of creating the oratorio,” Bynum said. “We stayed there in the old dormitory, and every morning we drove a truck out into the desert and dropped him off among the alligators to commune alone all day. It was a scary thing, because you could hear armadillos running through the dry leaves of the saw palmetto. It was strange.”

Bynum continued: “We would come back and enjoy the day, and at night we would read ‘The Marshes of Glynn’ out loud. Sometimes I read it alone; other times I would sit everyone in a circle and read it together, and it was an amazing experience to be at the very beginning of the heart of this glorious music, and it is truly glorious. It is our literary tradition. This is the beauty of our coast. That’s all.

Two writers, Ray and Renkl, in conversation with Dr. Dwight Andrews on 9/11:

“I call myself a naturalist writer, an environmental writer, and it’s because I am at heart a repairer, a restorer. I believe that life is mythical. I believe we can all lead great mythical lives; lifetimes in which we have all learned to be more human, and part of being human is being in direct and intimate relationship with the Earth, the beings of the Earth, the spirits of the Earth and so on” , said Ray. “The two are married in my mind. I know most literature experts would say don’t do that, have a program with your work, but I always have. I think stories are transformative.

“My ultimate goal in the writing I do for The New York Times is to persuade people that they are not helpless in the face of so much man-made devastation that is unfairly distributed – the suffering is unjustly distributed” , said Renkl. . “It’s too easy for people to say, first of all, ‘It’s not my fault.’ And second, ‘It’s not my problem.’ So if we can, as environmental writers and publishers, poets, painters and composers of librettos, all of those things, if we can help wake people up, that’s really the only thing left for the human race.

Margaret Renkl’s inspiring conversation with the late Congressman John Lewis:

“Congressman Lewis won the National Book Award…and I had already arranged an interview with him regarding that particular award,” Renkl recounted. “In the middle of it all was the 2016 presidential election, which completely destroyed me, and just the idea that so much progress was about to be completely erased, not just in the environment, but in matters of social justice…I asked Congressman Lewis in the interview how he held up, how he managed to hold on to hope when so much of that for what he worked for, what he spent his whole life working for, continued to be chipped away.

She continued, “I was so embarrassed. I just started crying and tears were rolling down my cheeks and as he spoke…. He just said that’s how justice always works. It’s never a straight line. To echo Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, but that doesn’t mean it’s a smooth arc or that there are never stops and ends. of twists. But he really believed that we were better than before, and that we will be even better. We just have to keep the faith.

“Confluence 2022,” a series of events hosted by Meridian Herald, is taking place across Atlanta from September 10-17. A full calendar of events is available at https://meridianherald.org/confluence-2022

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