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Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award -Introduction of Larry Sorkin, Tanja Bechtler and Robert Teixeira

This evening represents the best of Sensoria, originally known as the Spring Literary Festival. I say the best, not to imply better than, but the best because it represents Sensoria’s roots. The Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award—and by the way, I recused myself and left the room voluntarily when the discussion of legacy took place and when it was voted into existence by the festival advisory committee 28 or so years ago—The Legacy Award recognizes the imagination of the founder and the founder’s advisors. (Will those advisors please stand for applause.) The Legacy Award honors the grassroots development of Sensoria. It represents the best because it has always honored the arts at the grassroots level, tapping a wellspring of talent in our community. May it always be so!

Tonight reminds me of what I used to call “the magic of the festival.” Like a poem, the program has grown beyond what the planners intended. Once it goes out into the world, it takes on its own life. It no longer belongs to the creator. It becomes a love offering. It becomes a gift to you, the viewer, the listeners, the readers. Tonight’s winners are gifts we all are receiving. And we are grateful. Another facet of tonight’s magic is that this is the FIRST time the Legacy Award honors a team that had the imagination to cross boundaries, embracing the arts of literature and music. And I love that all three are teachers! Larry at Airy Knoll and CharlotteLit. Tanja at CPCC, and Bob at Queens and at our own college, CPCC. [PBS NewsHour aired the following Canvas arts and culture interview by correspondent Amna Nawaz with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Wednesday night, 29 July 2020. I borrow from it.] The pandemic certainly put a damper on our lives in many ways. But it also provided an opportunity for deep reflection. And according to a PBS interview with Yo-YoMa, it provided “musicians, poets, and painters [an opportunity to reflect] on why and for whom they make art.” Part of building our collective resilience in this crisis, Ma said, is “making sure that no matter what you do, you’re trying to do something in the service of somebody else.” This is at the heart of legacy. Doing something in the service of somebody else! And so tonight we are celebrating the collective resilience of which Yo-Yo Ma speaks and that our winners exemplify. How fortunate we are to have such humble and generous artists in our midst as Larry Sorkin, Tanya Bechtler,and Robert Texierer. Combining their talents they immerse us with words and music that inspire and center us. Their work touches soul, mind, and body. When we hear Tanja at the cello and Bob with his guitar, how can our hearts not respond! And Larry’s poems evoke thought and humor. His stellar voice transports us when he reads Rilke and Rumi, and other poets. Together these award winners deliver us to another realm beyond the cares of this world but not beyond caring about this world. They enrich our lives. Their collaborations inspire the hope that we, too, can aspire to all things that are fine, beautiful and true even in difficult times. Sensoria honors and humbly awards them. And richly blessed these artists give back, humbly. Tonight they reward us with their talents and their generosity. I am deeply honored to present these plaques. So I invite Larry, Tanja and Bob to please join me onstage.

Irene Blair Honeycutt Tate Hall, CPCC April 11, 2022

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