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What Can I Do?

I posted What Can I Do on December 12, 2012 as a response to the Sandy Hook school shootings.

Several weeks ago, Kathy asked if I Google myself. I replied I had, but there was not a lot. I told her I thought there was maybe a page related to Teacher as Transformer, my Twitter account, Facebook, presentations I made, etc.

Kathy Googled me and found a link to Amazon. It was a book review for a poetry anthology published by Silver Birch Press.

I have poems in the anthology. The review included Barbara Mojica‘s comments: One of my favorites is “What Can I Do” by Ivon Prefontaine. Here are a few lines: Change begins in me./I am a catalyst/I look inside:/Call forth a gentle spirit-/Give it voice.

As I explore mindfulness in daily life, I thought this was an example of two related phenomena. First, as a writer and teacher, I do not know how my words and actions might transcend time and place. Second, as a result, there is a demand on me to be mindful of how I speak and act.

Here is the text of the poem and below is a video with a reading and more context to the poem.

On a sombre day–

Grief and sorrow the order,

Message heard:

Change begins in me.

I am a catalyst

Look inside:

Summon forth a gentle spirit–

Let it speak.

In light, love happens–


Reaches out its hand

Beckon others to join.

Rings on clear pond,

Ripples of love touch,

Love cascades forth,

Good people meet.

Good touches good,

Prayer meets prayer,

Love conquers hate

Join together.

Good people summoned–

Their tears catalyze,

Grieve and heal as one.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

32 responses »

  1. Wow, what an honour. Happy for you.

  2. Beautiful and powerful Ivon

  3. Powerful! Love it!! Blessings and peace.🙏✌

  4. Beautiful poem, Ivon. The depth of feeling that it evokes reminds me of some of Parker Palmer’s poems. His most recent book has quite a few contained in the essays. You teach with your words, you know…🙂

  5. Just up the road from us. A gut punch that never heals. Beautiful Ivon.

  6. Beautiful poem.

    You also have reminded me of a project a friend of mine is involved with – a book of poems and commentary called “Bullets Into Bells” … you might also find something in there to feed you.

  7. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  8. I last visited El Santuario de Chimayo a few days after Sandy Hook. There is also a small chapel for children, and inside are shoes, flowers, photos, and prayers. I stepped inside and was completely overcome with grief.
    I tried to visit again a few days ago, but it was late morning on a Saturday and there were hundreds of people. It’s been “discovered” by tourists now. There was no parking for blocks and I didn’t bother.
    On my first visit, there were maybe eight or ten others. My second visit was after Sandy Hook.
    I need the silence and solace of a true sanctuary when I visit. I’ll have to go early one morning, off seas, mid week.

  9. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:
    Reading your poem today for the first time was very appropriate on the day I learned of Harold Bloom’s passing.

    • Thank you Kenne. I just finished reading a Elie Wiesel: Teacher, Mentor, and Friend and found overlap with what Bloom spoke about it in terms of one’s faith or lack thereof. Wiesel said it was an act of faith to question Yaweh. To change the world we begin with ourselves.

  10. Samuel Beckett described the situation of a certain kind of artist who interested him:

    “Having nothing to express, nothing with which to express; Together with the need to express.”

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Congratulations, ivon! Beautiful poem and reading. Enjoyed the video chat as well.

  12. “Grieve and heal as one.” Powerful line at it’s conclusion. Well said altogether! God bless and keep you always 🙂


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