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February 15, 2013

A Backstage Look at Love Poems

OTC and the Joyface Collective send Valentines

On Saturday February 9th, poets from the JoyFace Poetry and Arts Collective gathered in a Minneapolis storefront to write poems for Valentine’s Day, to have fun, and to celebrate love.

In the weeks leading up to February 14th, On the Commons invited commoners to support our work with a donation in exchange for a custom poem written by the JoyFace poets. Participants filled out a questionnaire with information about the people who would receive the custom poems. The poets asked for details on the Valentine recipients’ favorite smells, elements and serious or silly characteristics, all of which provided inspiration for each poem.

As Patrick Werle, one of the poets, remarked, “We often did not know if the recipient was male or female, young or old, or any specific details. We had a lot of laughs and the energy in the room that evening was really something cool. At times, I think, we each got a bit lost and when that happened, you passed the poem on to another poet, received some feedback from another, or set the poem down and started on another one. It was great and I look forward to doing it again!”

A collaborative arts-based venture, OTC’s Valentine’s Day Project was designed to give both Joyface, and OTC an opportunity to illustrate the potential joy in co-creation, one of the touchstones of the commons movement. Both groups believe that collaboration is central to the commons, that working together is key to caring for all that we share.

Early on in the project, OTC Co-Director Ana Micka summed it up when she said, “Love is the greatest commons of them all!” Yes! Love is the invisible foundation on which we can unite and build a better, more just and sustainable world.

In the end, the JoyFace poets wrote forty unique poems for individuals spread out across the continent from San Francisco to Nova Scotia. I think we succeeded in sharing the love.

Below is one of the poems that was written in the storefront that night,which showcases the poetic prowess of the JoyFace members. We hope you’ll join us next year on this joyful and collaborative venture in loving life and each other.


Despite the fact that you cannot be trusted with power tools,
I have grown to be certain of that which we build.

Our daughters,
A progression toward completion,
Proof that we have crafted love,

That we have tasted and created and re-created our course,
That we require no recipe but passion and thyme.