The cycle of poems written by Witness Stones Old Lyme poets Antoinette Brim-Bell, Marilyn Nelson, Kate Rushin, and Rhonda Ward, is featured in the November 2021 issue of Poetry Magazine, along with a thoughtful discussion about the collaboration.
Their poems capture the unheard voices of those commemorated by plaques on Lyme Street, bringing to life experiences, attitudes, and emotions long ignored and then forgotten. The reflections in verse allow Cato, Humphrey, Temperance, Arabella, and others to speak to us today about their years of enslavement in Lyme. See below for links to individual poems.
The Old Lyme Witness Stones Partnership, with generous support from a Health Improvement Collaborative of Southeastern Connecticut (HIC) Partnership Grant for Racial Equity, joined with these four distinguished Connecticut poets to create a tribute in verse to those remembered on the Lyme Street plaques.
Marilyn Nelson, Connecticut’s former poet laureate, notes that everyone involved in the Witness Stones Old Lyme poetry project “knows that we are collaborating not only with each other but also with long-gone enslaved individuals who were denied voices during their lifetimes.” In an introduction to the November issue, Poetry Magazine editor Su Cho observes that collaboration requires hard work and vulnerability and that the beauty of the poems included is that they can model for us how we, too, can be collaborative.
Rhonda M. Ward
The Old Lyme Witness Stone Project is a collaborative partnership between the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, and the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Community partners the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Lymes Youth Service Bureau, and the Old Lyme Historical Society support the project.