Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Readings on World AIDS Day in Second Life

Jenaia & LoriVonne
Location: Southern Tier, New York

I went to this location, at the invitation of Jenaia of Story Quest, to share my poem "A Question for Uncle D" at a public reading. Organizers Jenaia (at right) and LoriVonne (at left) are pictured above. I was honored to be part of this. Ever since first visiting Story Book Island, I've been moved emotionally by how Second Life permits a powerful sense of presence in exploring the life of another person. For the longest time, I felt Uncle D to be a real person.

In the end, the quest provides a powerful way to reflect on the lives of those who live with HIV/AIDS, as well as those who have left us.

Many folks have written to Uncle D, part of a growing body of collaborative work. Here's a picture of Judi Newall, reading her letter:

Judi Reads

Dear D.,

I miss you. It seems funny to me that I do. We didn't see each other these last 10 years. I was busy with school and work, running after things that probably you had already realized were less fulfilling than they seemed. I always wanted to write or call. I would think about it at inopportune times. Just before drifting off to sleep after a long day, I would remember you trying to teach me algebra before I even knew how to add. Of course I begged you to, I had just had a taste of kindergarten and your high school papers looked so fascinating. Of course, it is too late to call now. I would say to myself and make a note to call the next day. But then, the next critical event would blow the intention away, like cold winter wind. And now you are gone. I can't call. And filled with regret at what I have lost, I feel the longing.

I miss you.

My piece, from my uncle Louis, a Navy Corpsman who died saving others on Okinawa, was a bit more hard-boiled: the sort of uncle-to-uncle chat the men would have had over a few beers.

Jenaia also shared this YouTube video about Karuna Island in SL and World AIDS day.

Everything at the reading was as immersive as the experience of touring Story Book Island. I was impressed by the story quilts, for instance, that participants made for the audience to use as we sat on the grass and listened.


Second Life has always possessed the power to transform our real lives. This was a good occasion to prove that.

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