Molly Lynn Watt
Molly Lynn Watt, a poet, activist, and educator, draws on her time working at Highlander Center in Tennessee in 1963 for the heart of her most recent book “On Wings of Song—A Journey into the Civil Rights Era” (Ibbetson 2014). This memoir is about race in America told in a sequence of poems. It is about involvement in the Civil Rights Movement when she and her then-husband, Bob Gustafson, directed a workcamp to build a voter registration training facility in the Smokey Mountains with 15 black activist volunteers from Birmingham and 15 white student volunteers primarily from northern states. Under cover of night the workcampers were rousted from bed at gunpoint by members of the Klan, many of whom were deputized that day but wore no badges nor showed any ID. Luckily for the group, they were thrown into the Maryville Jail, including Molly’s daughters, Kristin aged 1 and Robin aged 3. This is an American story where the personal slams against the political. It is a story of courage, shame and optimism. The book starts during the World War II and concludes in 2014 with a poem, “Civil Rights Update” linked with Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech as required reading in the Dallas Public Schools. Poet Afaa Michael Weaver praised this book with these words, “On Wings of Song” is a journey into the heart, the place of deep caring for the state of being human. Watt has written with the sincere and sympathetic hand to mark a path for the reader to return to the Civil Rights Era of the 50's and 60's, a history that never leaves us. As she writes, “there is no time for fear”. In the inscape of her journey we see the time for caring is now. These are gentle but sure lines of conviction, lines worthy of a standing applause.”
Her public history play coauthored and performed with her husband Dan Lynn Watt, “George and Ruth — Songs and Letters of the Spanish Civil War,” is on CD. It is based on excerpts of letters Dan’s parents exchanged between his father, George Watt, a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War and his bride of a year, Ruth Watt, a student activist in New York City. Howard Zinn and Pete Seeger proclaimed this play “an important contribution keeping the spirit of democracy and conscience alive”.
Her chapbook poem “Consider This” was choreographed for Across the Ages Dance Concert. Poet Suzanne Berger says, “This poem does everything we ever hoped a poem could do,” as it portrays a girl in the grip of incest.
Molly Lynn Watt lives in Cambridge Cohousing since 1998 with her husband Dan Lynn Watt. They were among the co-founders. It is here their little ukulele band, Common Strummers meets each week to strum and sing into the better world they dream of.
Author’s Page http://www.amazon.com/Molly-Lynn-Watt/e/B001HP3DAQ
My Story in the Civil Rights Movement www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IrfnZJN2o0
Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement http://www.crmvet.org/vet/wattm.htm
George and Ruth, listen to excerpts http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/georgeandruth
I want to write a poem
I want to whisper
I want to bend contort riff
We’ve become night travelers