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Saturday November 18th 2017

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Telling your story is resistance and hope ‘Rising Up’

phoenix_of_phillips_vol1-p1Overlooked creativity prompts collection of ‘Keepers’

BY PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.

Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

The greatest mistakes often lead to the greatest accomplishments. For too long, those outside the Phillips community have overlooked the incredible creativity of our vibrant and diverse community. The schools, the businesses, the arts organizations, and above all, the people. This is compounded by much of the media’s attention on what is wrong with Phillips: the ashes, rather than what arises from them. The literary magazine in this issue, “The Phoenix of Phillips” makes the case for the rising.

Though the depiction of the Phoenix varies from place to place, there are some commonalities across time and language. The Phoenix is a brightly colored bird that lives for a long time—often a thousand years—then, in a high tree makes a nest lined with incense where she does not lay eggs, but lays herself down. To be immolated, only to rise again from the ashes. As the 19th century Irish poet George Darley put it:

Half buried to her flaming breast
In this bright tree, she makes her nest,
Hundred sunn’d Phoenix! When she must
Crumble at length to hoary dust!

The Phoenix is found in many ancient cultures, from Persian to Egyptian to Greek. In Persia, it was considered the Bird of Paradise. In early Christian writing, for example that of Saint Ambrose and Saint Clement, the Phoenix is often lifted up as a symbol of the resurrection.

In Hebrew, the word chol can be translated as Phoenix. In Job 29:18, Job says, “Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix.” (NRSV) Chol also means sand, which is how most English translation renders the passage. Perhaps some Christians have trouble with a mythical image shared with other religions. Or perhaps the feminine nature of the Phoenix troubles some.

We all look for new life, especially in the midst of struggle and loss. Telling one’s story is a powerful act of resistance to a narrative that says we really can’t make a difference, and it is a powerful act of hope that claims that every one’s voice, from the smallest to the biggest has value. This first issue of The Phoenix of Phillips is dedicated to those who give their lives—in service, in struggle, in song—for our beloved neighborhood.

We hope that you enjoy the writing and photography in The Phoenix of Phillips, and that you consider contributing to its future—by submitting work to be considered for publication, by supporting us financially, and by telling your friends! In the words of Pablo Picasso: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

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