Jean Flanagan

Arlington Poet Laureate Jean Flanagan wants the whole community to contribute to a collaborative poem celebrating the small acts of kindness that create moments of grace in our lives.

Please email your short account of an act of kindness you have observed to Jean at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

No more than 30 words, captured in a sentence or two.  Jean will go through the messages that come in and select as many as possible to assemble into a poem, to debut at the Arlington Heights Spring Fling Festival on June 10.

Inspiring Flanagan was a poem byDanusha Lamériscomposed in a similar way and a poetry prompt from a blog called “Two Sylvias’ Weekly Muse.” See both below.

“When I saw this prompt, I was immediately moved by it and thought it would be a great idea for the Arlington Heights Festival,” Flanagan explained in a news release. “I’m hoping our community, of all ages and levels of experience, can get started soon by thinking about some of the lines from Laméris’s poem. Be inspired; but draw on your own experience. And you don’t have to be a poet, just a truthful appreciator of the small acts of kindness everywhere around us.”

Festival organizers Janet O’Riordan and Cecily Miller invited Flanagan to join them as a collaborator to bring poetry to the Heights festival. The poet proposed developing the collaborative "kindness poem" and organizing a showcase featuring local poets. The poem will be painted in a storefront window in Arlington Heights.

Eligibility: Anyone who goes to school or lives in Arlington can enter.  All ages are welcome. The deadline for the lines to be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. was Thursday, June 1.

Small Kindnesses   
 By Danusha Laméris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.

-- The New York Times (Sept. 19, 2019), Bonfire Opera

GUIDELINES – from Two Sylvias’ Weekly Muse, Feb. 12, 2023

"What small kindnesses do you appreciate?”

“Inspired by Danusha Laméris and this amazing project, why not try composing a poem this week that centers around the theme of small kindnesses? Are there friendly gestures by strangers that have particularly struck you recently? Has a family member or friend warmed your heart with a simple act? Did you drop an avocado in the produce section of the grocery store, and someone rushed over to retrieve it for you? Did your cousin leave a piping-hot loaf of homemade zucchini bread at your door? " 

April 11, 2023:Registration extended to paint windows at Heights businesses

This news announcement was published Thursday, April 26, 2023, based on information provided by Janet O'Riordan.