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Unity Project by UCR Poet Invites Americans to Express Thoughts on Sandy Hook Tragedy

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RIVERSIDE — As Americans grapple with the horrific deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera has created a nationwide unity poem project to help express what the country is feeling.

“Let’s put our efforts into ending violence wherever it may rise,” Herrera, a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, wrote on his Facebook page, where contributions to the Unity Poetry Wall for Newton, Conn., reside.

The California Poet Laureate’s poem, “Little Ones We Carry You,” launches the project. By the morning of Monday, Dec. 17, nearly two dozen individuals had contributed their thoughts as well, some in Spanish, most in English. A selection of these verses follow Herrera’s.

Little Ones We Carry You

Little ones we carry you with our hearts today and tomorrow
Many tomorrows – we will be there with you
Whether we have flowers or poems or prayers
With our hands our bodies somehow
We will touch the earth for you and the rain and the green winds
We will sing for you and your teachers who covered you
And your principal who protected you and your mothers
Fathers sisters brothers all who are one now
We will become them we will become you somehow
As we grow we will grow for you and embrace each other
The songs from your sky hearts will be the songs from our city hearts
Songs lighting your hands will be the songs lifting our hands
Somehow we contain you somehow you are here inside
Go up to the skies touching the infinite now
Little ones we carry you with our hearts today and tomorrow
This is our song
We will end the fire
Let us sing together

(For the children who perished at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings, and their teachers, staff, principal and the communities of Newtown, Conn. – 12/14/12) Juan Felipe Herrera
California Poet Laureate

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