Brooke Claussen

As a child, I loved nursery rhymes, even though I was oblivious to their menacing undertones. Like most miniature humans, I merrily sang along to ‘Three Blind Mice’ (religious oppression), ‘Ring around the Rosie’ (bubonic plague), Jack and Jill went up the hill (adultery), and London Bridge is falling down (human sacrifice).

Later, when I discovered the origins of these seemingly innocent rhymes, I was fascinated by how simple mantras easily permeate into our subconscious without a second thought. Add in a few layers of Hans Christian Anderson, and we have created quite the paradigm.

When I first heard of the Peacing Together project, I glanced over at a poster on my wall and thought about how I used to think ‘Blackbird’ was only a Beatles song.  Little did I know that it subtly tells the story of race relations. Even now, I’m still learning how every single word can matter, and how we infuse them with magic and meaning, no matter the vehicle.

Even today, the Sgt Pepper album feels current and timely. During the Coronavirus pandemic, YouTube commenters were saying that the album seems like it is written for this earth-changing event—especially the track, “A day in the life.”  One reader said, “Oh, my word. Why does this sound so new?”

I can’t speak for you, but I can still sing the lyrics of most of the Sgt Pepper songs. They live inside my head, filed inside a giant library ready to appear when needed.

Watching the celebratory footage of the gypsy caravan rolling down the street from 1967 reminds me of the forts that I used to hide out in as a child. My secret forts were less ornate and usually located in a nearby willow tree. Forts were my escape, and while they didn’t resemble the caravan, in my mind, they were brilliant and psychedelic and filled with adventure. The caravan footage may be in black and white. But we know that the color is there. That takes words and imagination. Words bring it to life.

So, if you want to know something about me, know that I love words. They are my magic and salvation. Creation and destruction. Beauty and pain. They have been my go-to, my sanctuary, and my protection long before I understood the concept.

Along with Peacing Together, my passions include storytelling, a love of nature, and a fierce respect for all creatures big and small. I long to give a voice to the voiceless, to protect them, and let them live in peace, as the natural world intended. Animals shouldn’t have to serve as our entertainment, treated as materials, ingredients, or be born for our consumption.