Ad Astra per Aspera
(To the Stars through Difficulties)
—Kansas state motto
to take root among the stars
—Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower
The Ad Astra Writing Project is a series of community-based writing workshops and events oriented towards building good relationships with and within the ecosphere. Based in Lawrence, Kansas, in partnership with the Lawrence Public Library and the Sunrise Project, and made possible by a grant from the Hall Center for the Humanities, the series invites participants to explore poetry to engage with and deepen connections to each other, their communities, and their ecosystem. Drawing on shared values of community and a desire to better understand ourselves and the place we call home, the events will help participants write to live through a practice oriented towards individual and community healing, empowerment, and community connection in times of uncertainty. Events focus on poetic practices as methods of care, healing, and community engagement. Moreover, events feature open-mics that encourage participants to draw upon their own direct and varied experiences. This project builds upon my eight year tenure as the curator and co-founder of the now happily retired Taproom Poetry Series.
Through partnerships with the Land Institute, the Tallgrass Artists Residency, the Bank in Matfield Green, and other place-based community arts and humanities organizations across the state of Kansas, the Ad Astra Project is growing, with projects and plans expanding across the state. Some guiding texts and theoretical framework for this ongoing project include adrienne maree brown’s emergent strategy, Donna Haraway’s Staying With the Trouble, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World, Timothy Morton’s Humankind, Kathryn Yusoff’s A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, Michael Marder’s work on plant thinking and vegetal being, and Octavia Butler’s Earthseed books. You can follow the project here and through the project’s facebook page.