This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Creating art from tragedy

Sandy Hook, Simon's Rock shootings inspire poetry and piano

“Nobody’s Road” is an original poem written by Peter Filkins. Narration by Peter Filkins. Photography by the Associated Press. Video by Elisabeth Ponsot.

On December 14, 2012, Peter Filkins, a Bard College at Simon’s Rock literature professor, was preparing for his first day as a writer-in-residence at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Along with Americans across the country who were hearing the news for the first time, Filkins’ Friday shifted from normal to nightmarish when he learned a shooter had struck Sandy Hook Elementary School — killing 20 children and six adult staff.

That Friday was also the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 shooting at Simon’s Rock, which took the lives of two: Galen Gibson and Ñacuñán Sáez. For Filkins, the timing was both meaningful and uncanny.

“Over the years I’ve not written about the shootings. And never felt any special compunction to do so,” Filkins said. “And yet, when the Newtown shooting happened… because it was these children, I felt compelled to try to write something.”

Down the road from Filkins’ home in Western Massachusetts is a street labeled “Nobody’s Road.”

“I’ve always loved the title of that road and always thought, ‘I need to do something with that title someday,'” he said.

“And it occurred to me, sitting down, that’s where we are. With the gun violence, with the lack of will to do something, with knowing that it’s going to happen again. We’re on nobody’s road.”

(Watch the video of Filkins reading “Nobody’s Road,” above).

“Opening the Door” is a musical composition by Gabriel Gould, a friend and former classmate of Galen Gibson.

The music accompanies a poem of the same title (scanned below), written by Gibson while he attended Simon’s Rock.

  • thumb
    Memorial Day every day
    Beyond the backyard BBQ: Honor and aid those who have served.
  • Fast and too furious?
    Can accuracy and the demand for instant information coexist in the media?
  • thumb
      Steinbeck's Salinas Valley
    John Steinbeck's hometown came to worldwide notice through the Grapes of Wrath. Not all city fathers were pleased by the portrait. Explore what has changed and what remains the same in Salinas.