Daniel Sperry Presents the Poem “Shoulders” for Kindred Readers

Read the Kindred Press Release Here.


When Lisa Reagan, Kindred’s editor, suggested the idea of my being the first “artist-in-residence” at Kindred, I noticed some threads coming together that had been wafting through the different spaces of my life for awhile.  (Listen to Daniel and Lisa’s talk on the parallels between conscious parenting and living as an artist here.)

One was the idea that I had been wanting my work with music and poetry to be connected to a purpose, to life, to the ordinary lives of the planet. As a cellist. and composer, and spoken word artist, a lot of what I do can easily remain somewhere up around some cloud, to the left of the moon as it rises.

So here was an opportunity to connect my creation to the quest we are on when we choose to raise a family, in the most conscious and creative way we can. And that excites me.

Upon considering how I might do this, I began looking at the work of particular poets I love – one who immediately came to mind was Naomi Shihab Nye, a Palestinian-American poet from San Antonio, Texas, who in addition to writing much widely acclaimed poetry, has also written children’s songs as well, and who carries the sense of compassion in her work that attracts me.

I’ve chosen Naomi’s poem, “Shoulders”, as the first contribution I will make of this artist-in-residency, because it speaks directly to the connection between what we do as parents and the prospect of living in a world where we take care of each other in that same careful, and tender way.

I’m not big on interpretation of poems – I will let her words speak for them selves. But one thing I will add, is my great enjoyment in including the fine voice of my daughter, Ali Sperry, on this first piece.

Ali is a singer-songwriter finding her way in Nashville, TN. I’ve been wanting to include a few “sung” lines in the pieces I create, and this was a great opportunity to do that. She makes me proud, of course, but all the more because her voice and her work are completely authentic to her. Yes, she had some kind of a model in her father, and her mother, but she has discovered her own special gift, in her own way, and it is even more exciting for me to wrap her performance on this piece into my first offering to the Kindred Community.

I look forward to your comments and feedback. There is much more to come.



by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.


The poem is reprinted here and performed by Daniel Sperry above with the author’s permission.

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