The Peace Correspondent, Vol.1, No. 2

The Peace Correspondent, Vol.1, No. 2

Identity and Extremism

We’re excited to announce the second edition of The Peace Correspondent, a solution-based periodical published three times per year by Writing for Peace. The theme of this edition is “Identity and Extremism.” In order to maintain our periodical format, it will arrive via email as a pdf attachment. You are welcome to forward the pdf  to interested friends and family. The periodical will also go up on the website here and be shared through our Facebook page.

Our next edition of the Peace Correspondent will come out on June 31st, 2017 with the theme “Climate Justice”. If you are interested in joining our Peace Journalists and writing for The Peace Correspondent, check out our guidelines here.

Congratulations to Editor-in-Chief Elissa Tivonna, Associate Editors Andrea W. Doray and Melody Rautenstraus, and our team of brilliant Peace Journalists!

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Famine, by Djelloul Marbrook

 riding-thermals

Famine

I’ve kicked my ass all over the world
for sipping poisons like an oenologist,
but it’s not without its rewards:
the cracks in buildings speak
and I’m the plenipotentiary
of a foreign power whose name I forget.
I enjoy name recognition
among the ghosts of certain places
because they recognize a fellow taster,
one who let the invaders settle in
before levying a dhimmi tax on them.
This is my Islam, that I died
so often standing up, stepping out
to get a breath of air and going in
for all that crap about genetics;
my Islam is noticing what’s going on,
burning the authorized version in oil drums
under bridges, growing abutments
to support my Queensboros
over rivers of shifting wrecks
& vortices of forgiveness not so much
as a famine of the eye.

djelloul-marbrook leaningDjelloul Marbrook is the author of five published poetry books: Far from Algiers (2008, Kent State University Press, winner of the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry), Brushstrokes and Glances (2010, Deerbrook Editions), Brash Ice (2014, Leaky Boot Press, UK) , Shadow of the Heron (2016, Coda Crab Books), and Riding Thermals to Winter Grounds (2017, Leaky Boot). Forthcoming in 2017 from Leaky Boot are four more: Nothing True Has a Name, Even Now the Embers, Other Risks Include, and Air Tea with Dolores. His fiction includes Saraceno (Bliss Plot, 2012), Mean Bastards Making Nice (2014, Leaky Boot), and two books of short fiction forthcoming in 2017 from Leaky Boot: A Warding Circle: New York Stories and Making Room: Baltimore Stories. He won the 2008 Literal Latté fiction prize for “Artists Hill,” an excerpt from Crowds of One, Book 2 in the Light Piercing Water trilogy, forthcoming in 2018 from Leaky Boot. A U.S. Navy veteran and retired newspaper editor, he lives in the mid-Hudson Valley with his wife Marilyn and maintains a lively presence on Twitter and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/djelloul.marbrook.5

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2017 Young Writers Contest

2013 Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest

Our March 1st deadline is quickly approaching! Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. There is no fee for participation. Spread the word!

Check Out The Latest From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserNewsletter: Being Prepared To Turn Crisis To Our Advantage

“What lessons should the protest movement of today take from the 9/11 experience and similar events that have occurred, e.g. the 1933 burning down of Reichstag under Hitler, which turned him into a dictator even though his party did not have a majority in the legislature?”

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Activism, Advisory Panel Contributors, Contests, Djelloul Marbrook, Dr. Margaret Flowers | 1 Comment

Birds Still Build Nests, by Mary Carroll-Hackett

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Birds Still Build Nests

By Mary Carroll-Hackett

even when bombs are falling, even when the dams are failing, even when the hate is ravenous and roaring, even when the hills are on fire. Birds still build nests, making homes for their babies, weaving string and straw and song and wire into being, as if the world is not careening toward ending, as if they’ve forgotten how dark, how dark, it always is. But then, maybe we’re the ones who have forgotten, who have made myths of our own pain, who have convinced ourselves of power against the torrential rain, all wishful shields and shrouds sewn of things that don’t last, can’t last. The birds, skittering between forever and yesterday, say: Nothing lasts. Build it anyway.

 

Mary Carroll-Hackett, Writing for Peace Adviser2Mary Carroll-Hackett is the author of The Real Politics of LipstickAnimal Soul, If We Could Know Our Bones, The Night I Heard Everything, Trailer Park Oracle, and A Little Blood, A Little Rain. Her newest collection of prose poems, Death for Beginners, will be out from Kelsey Books in September 2017. Learn more about Writing for Peace Adviser Mary Carroll-Hackett and her work here.

Small Writing for Peace logoWriting for Peace News

2017 Young Writers Contest

2013 Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest

Our March 1st deadline is quickly approaching! Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. There is no fee for participation. Spread the word!

Support Writing for Peace

You can help make the Writing for Peace Mission a reality by supporting our youth outreach, international journal, and peace journalism in the following ways:

  • Help spread the word about Writing for Peace. One way to do that is to frequent our Facebook page, share and like our posts.
  • Purchase copies of DoveTales for yourself, friends, and loved ones.
  • Add Writing for Peace to the list of organizations you support in your annual giving. Writing for Peace is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID Number, 45-2968027. We welcome and appreciate your donations!  Thank you for your ongoing support!

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Dylann Roof, “A Fractured Soul,” by Edward Currelley

In memory of Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd (54) – Bible study member and manager for the Charleston County Public Library system; sister of Malcolm Graham. Susie Jackson (87) – a Bible study and church choir member. Ethel Lee Lance (70) – the church's sexton. Depayne Middleton-Doctor (49) – a pastor who was also employed as a school administrator and admissions coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University. Clementa C. Pinckney (41) – the church's pastor and a South Carolina state senator. Tywanza Sanders (26) – a Bible study member; grandnephew of Susie Jackson. Daniel Simmons (74) – a pastor who also served at Greater Zion AME Church in Awendaw. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45) – a pastor; also a speech therapist and track coach at Goose Creek High School. Myra Thompson (59) – a Bible study teacher. In memory of Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and Myra Thompson.

The Case of Dylann Roof, “A Fractured Soul”

By Edward D. Currelley

Dylann Roof is an all-American boy. A home grown terrorist, Roof reflects an America this nation does not want you to know—the same nation that has now elected a president who promoted disrespect for women, hatred innuendo, division, and bigotry. Dylann Roof is the native son, a monster.

Unrepentant, Roof represented himself to prevent a court-appointed attorney from misleading the court about his mental capacity. Under oath he claimed to be sane, fully aware of his actions and their consequences.

Now Roof has been tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Presently, he is in the process of filing for a motion granting ninety days to prepare for an appeal which, by law, he is entitled to. If anyone does, Roof deserves to die for his heinous crimes. There, I said it!

Let us digress. On June 17th, 2015,  Dylann Roof, aged twenty-two, was welcomed into a prayer meeting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. While standing in a circle with these unsuspecting souls, grasping each others’ hands with heads bowed in prayer, Dylann Roof pulled a semi-automatic weapon from concealment and shot thirteen people. Four of the victims were critically wounded, and nine died. One of the injured called the police from a hiding place under a table, and Roof was arrested a short time later without incident.

The next morning, my gut hurting and unable to stop the tears, I turned to social media and found the Internet teaming with declarations of hate, revenge, and cries for help. Exactly, I imagined, the reaction Roof and the white supremacists most wanted—to inflict fear, hatred, and emotional devastation.

So, despite my own anger and distress, I wrote an open letter to America—a letter about sympathy, about compassion for the victims and their families, and also about forgiveness. I wrote about the factions in our society that would raise a young man in hatred, warp his young mind, and set him free to prey on the unsuspecting. The reactions ranged from anger to praise, but a version of this post was later published in the 2016 DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, “Family & Cultural Identity.”  

The young Dylann Roof formulated his opinions regarding race relations without his family’s knowledge or approval. In his twisted mind he believed his killings would lead to a revolution or ignite a war between the races. Throughout the trial, he held fast to his convictions without remorse, despite the overwhelming sorrow expressed by his family for the pain and suffering he had caused. At the sentencing, he stated that he didn’t see the point of asking for leniency because he would do it again given the opportunity.

After just three hours of deliberation, the jury determined that Dylann Roof should be put to death. When I heard the news my first response was a resounding, YES!!! The punishment, I thought,  should be as harsh as the heinous crime. But then, as I relished that sense of justice upheld, the families of the murdered and critically injured began to come forward to plead for this young man’s life. Out of heart and through faith, they offered up forgiveness unmatched by anything I’ve seen of recent.

WE THE PEOPLE have a voice and will stand for only so much. This country incarcerates thousands of African American men and women each year for non-violent crimes. There are unwarranted police shootings and brutality of our young men and women, raising cries of Black Lives Matter. Now we’ve accepted a president with unprecedented ethical issues, a farce blatantly perpetrated on the American people that has resulted in increased hate crimes. With all they have suffered, personally and as African Americans citizens of this nation, how is it possible that these champions of faith hold on to such love of humanity? I have no answer.

I’m not vindictive. I don’t desire revenge. But I am tired of watching a tattered nation getting worse every day.  Still, for all my pain and discouragement, these people of faith have restored my hope for our nation.

There is absolutely no chance of Dylann Roof ever walking the streets again. Dylann Roof’s future lay within his heart and mind. He will never be a danger to anyone, except (perhaps) himself.  Some would ask, why waste tax-payer dollars on his incarceration. Roof may have hate in his heart, but he wasn’t born that way; it’s a learned concept.The incarcerated have time for soul-searching, and sometimes that reflection results in reformed thought, maybe even a better human being. Stranger things have happened. The most evil of hearts has found faith, remorse, and forgiveness within penitentiary walls.

If the people directly affected, the families and congregation, can forgive Dylann Roof, then who are we to deny their wishes beyond prison? With death we gain nothing, least of all satisfaction. With life there is a chance of reform.  The families and congregation of Emanuel AME Church have preached with the will of a higher power. My personal opinion doesn’t matter, but I believe this is one of those cases where an eye for an eye will only leave a nation blind.

Maybe, Dylann Roof will save himself.

###

Edward CurrelleyEdward D. Currelley is an author and artist. He was awarded honorable status by Writer’s Digest for Stage Playwriting in 2008. His children’s book, I’m not lost, I’m with you and young adult novel, That Krasbaum Kid will be published this year. His poems and short stories can be found in numerous anthologies and periodicals, such as Eber & Wein’s Across the Way-Mountain, The Mom Egg Review, Writing for Peace’s 2016 Dove Tales, Sling Magazine, Metaphor Magazine and Split This Rock. He is the president of Pen To Mind Books & Child Development Concepts, Inc. and resides in New York City. (edwardcurrelley.wix.com/the-poet)

Small Writing for Peace logoA Message from Writing for Peace

We, at Writing for Peace, are horrified and deeply saddened by the tragic and inhumane terrorist attack at a Quebec City mosque. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected by this act of hate and incomprehensible violence.

Writing for Peace Adviser Azfar Rizvi and The Institute of Canadian Archives has put together a list of ways to offer help to the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec during this difficult time of healing. They suggest donating by check or direct deposit according to the instructions provided on the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec’s (CCIQ) website:

1. Make a cheque out to “Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec” and send it to:

Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec
2877 chemin Sainte-Foy, Québec, Quebec G1V 1W3

2. To donate by direct deposit:

Banking institution: Caisse Populaire Desjardins
Agency: Laval University, Quebec
Account number: 0815 20439 041290 8
Beneficiary: Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec
Address: 2877 chemin Sainte-Foy, Québec, Québec, G1V 1W3

As incidents of hate crimes continue to rise in this political climate, we will strive to counter that hate with acts of empathy, compassion and love. We will write for peace, march for peace, and reach out across divides (real and imagined) for peace. As many of us recently chanted in streets all over the world, we believe in building bridges, not walls.

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

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Introducing Our New President, Andrea W. Doray

Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace and serves as President of the Board of Directors.

Carmel Mawle, Founder

By Carmel Mawle, Founder and Past President

One afternoon, in April of 2012, a group of writers gathered around a table in front of a Denver coffee shop. Herb gardens bloomed and spilled from pots as we brainstormed with a vibrant coffee-infused energy. We were all members of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, all of us deeply moved and inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests that had survived it’s first brutal winter. As sunlight filtered through new leaves, we imagined a future for Writing for Peace, a simple idea that had begun the autumn before with a young writers contest that sought to develop empathy. On this magical afternoon, our annual journal and it’s title,  DoveTales, was first conceived along with a million other brilliant ideas. Andrea W. Doray was at the table that afternoon and, as we reminisced the other day, she said she could have leapt over the table in her enthusiasm to be a part of Writing for Peace.

We’re now putting together our fifth DoveTales, and how far we’ve come in these short five years! Andrea W. Doray, an award-winning journalist and poet, has been an integral part of  Writing for Peace from the beginning. I am thrilled now to announce that she will be stepping in as President of the Board of Directors. In addition to her mighty pen, Andrea brings with her a wealth of experience in publishing, public relations, and marketing that promises to propel the organization forward during a time when empathy, compassion, and writing for peace is more important than ever. Watch for her inspiring monthly President’s Corner in our blog, the first of which appears below!

Congratulations, Andrea, and thank you for your commitment and service on behalf of a more peaceful world!

President’s Corner:

We Write … That’s Our Superpower

by Andrea W. Doray

 

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Andrea W. Doray, President

For my recent birthday, a friend who knows me well presented me with a coffee mug that says: “I write … what’s your superpower?” She knows I believe, as most of us do, that our words make a difference. And that is, after all, the reason I write.

Of course, as may also be true for you, I write because I have to, because it’s as essential to me as breathing. There’s nothing unique in this sentiment. All the writers I know feel this way to one degree or another. Just thinking on paper through the marvelous and mysterious world of words, through the various lexicons of language, satisfies something crucial in us.

I also write because I feel that I personally have to do something about the world and the way I view it. And when I despair – as I often do – about refugee camps and the ravages of war, about kidnappings, torture, and rape as a weapon of war, about the devastation that war inflicts and then leaves in its wake, I want to be of some use, to put my hands to work. I yearn to offer what little expertise I have as an aid worker to make things right.

In short, I want to be a superhero.

But I have wise friends who remind me that I already have a superpower. When I need to put these hands to work, I grab my pen. I think on paper. Like you, I provide information and education, I create awareness, I ask for action, and most of all I try to spark a measure of considered thought from decent people around the globe.

Through Writing for Peace, we model for young people the ways to make a difference with their words through cultural understanding and acceptance. We model for governments the ways a movement can start and evolve to bring about awareness of and support for issues. We model for the world the ways peaceful activism works to bring about change.

We are so powerful.

I look forward to our many initiatives, including our journal, DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, which has been lovingly nurtured and edited by our past president and founder Carmel Mawle for five issues. Have you see the Peace Correspondent, our just-launched news magazine, spearheaded by board member Elissa Tivona?

Writing for Peace Advisor Mary Carroll-Hackett led a stellar Youth Summit in 2016, which brought students from around the globe together for conversation and problem solving. Watch for news about the 2017 Youth Summit later this year.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve as president of Writing for Peace – an organization that, since its founding five years ago, has allowed me to pursue my passion, my desire, my absolute need to bring peace to the forefront of the world’s conversations.

If what we write prompts someone else to think about something differently, to support a position, to articulate their own thoughts, or to take peaceful action that advances worldwide – and local – understanding of human rights and social justice, we have made the difference we set out to make.

We write … that’s our superpower. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

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New Year’s Message from Carmel Mawle

Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace and serves as President of the Board of Directors.

Despite world and national events of worrisome significance, this great beautiful globe has continued to spin on its axis, and we have come to the close of 2016. There’s been much wringing of hands over what 2017 might bring. No doubt there will be a continuation of the old challenges – the onslaught of corporate greed and apathy that ravishes our planet and the life she sustains – and there will be new challenges yet unknown.

In the last weeks, I’ve heard from many of you who despair over the unimaginable violence in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. You’ve expressed fear for the environment, as well as the poor, ill, disabled, and elderly who are least able to defend themselves against threatened austerity measures that boost the bottom line of multi-national corporations.

I share your fears, but as we face the New Year, I also wanted to share the number one thing that sustains me – because it’s all of you. It’s the writers who are opening up eyes and hearts by allowing readers to experience the lives and obstacles and loves of others. Through your writing you are creating empathy and new connections. You are exploring new mediums and ways to reach each other, and it is our goal to continue to support you and lift up your important work.

In 2017, let’s recommit ourselves to our writing and activism – online, on the page, and on our feet. Speak out fearlessly against injustice. Stand up for the oppressed. Keep a watch out for common meanness in our daily lives and respond with truth and compassion.

If you are thinking about a Writing Checklist for 2017, consider adding the following:

  • Write (and call) your legislators, regularly.
  • Write editorials for your local papers.
  • Volunteer for and support nonprofits that represent your values.
  • Lift up those who are working to make a difference. Write stories about their work and get them out into the world. Or, send them a thank you note. Let them know their work is appreciated.

These are just a few ideas. No doubt you have many more, and I hope you’ll share them with us. But I would like to add one more, and while it may not necessarily involve pen in hand, it will have a direct affect on your writing, your passion, your inspiration, and the life experience that becomes fodder for your work. We all hear “butt in chair” and yes, we need to make time to write, but in 2017 let’s resolve to also get out on the street a bit more. Take time from your writing to join a candlelight peace vigil, march for the environment, and protest injustice, but also do some thinking about ways you can physically reach across the divide and find common ground with neighbors and fellow citizens. It is incumbent upon each of us to work toward healing the sickness and demonization that was cultivated during the election cycle by those who hope to profit by it.

Ultimately, we need to remember that the current frightening developments will fail, because they simply are unsustainable. True change, the kind that can give us all hope, doesn’t come from governments or charismatic leaders, it comes from us. It comes from those who seek truth, who create with integrity, who commit to peaceful, fearless, and sustained resistance.

Albert Camus said, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” My wish for you, dear readers and writers for peace, is that you will find increasing strength and courage and freedom in 2017.

With much gratitude for your work and continued support,

Carmel Mawle
Founder and President
Writing for Peace

 

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Writing for Peace News

2017 Young Writers Contest

2013 Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. The deadline for entrance is March 1st, 2017. There is no fee for participation.

The Peace Correspondent: Call for Submissions

Information is beginning to go up on the website about our new online periodical, The Peace Correspondent, a tri-annual solution-based publication. The guidelines for our second edition have been posted online at Peace Correspondent Guidelines.

DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts: Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceThe deadline for our 2017 edition of DoveTales (Refugees and the Displaced) is January 15th, and it’s coming up quickly!  DoveTales is an extension of our mission to promote writing that explores the many aspects of peace.  Our purpose is to expose young writers to a diverse collection of thoughtful works by established and emerging writers, as well as many of our  advisers. The journal will also feature works by the winners of our annual Young Writer Competition. The journal will be released on May 1st, 2017. There is no fee for submission, but please read our guidelines carefully.

Support Writing for Peace

You can help make the Writing for Peace Mission a reality by supporting our youth outreach, international journal, and peace journalism in the following ways:

  • Help spread the word about Writing for Peace. One way to do that is to frequent our Facebook page, share and like our posts.
  • Purchase copies of DoveTales for yourself, friends, and loved ones.
  • Add Writing for Peace to the list of organizations you support in your annual giving. Writing for Peace is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID Number, 45-2968027. We welcome and appreciate your donations!  Thank you for your ongoing support!

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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The Peace Correspondent, Edition I

We’re excited to announce the premier issue of The Peace Correspondent, a solution-based periodical published three times per year by Writing for Peace. The theme of our first issue is “Racial and Social Justice”. In order to maintain our periodical format, it will arrive via email as a pdf attachment. You are welcome to forward the pdf  to interested friends and family. The periodical will also go up on the website and be shared through our Facebook page.

Our next edition of the Peace Correspondent will come out on February 28th, 2017 with the theme “Gender Identity and Healing Sexual Violence”. If you are interested in joining our Peace Journalists and writing for The Peace Correspondent, check out our guidelines here.

Congratulations to Editor-in-Chief Elissa Tivonna, Associate Editors Andrea W. Doray and Melody Rautenstraus, and all our brilliant Peace Journalists!

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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2017 Young Writers Contest Now Open!

2017 Panel of Judges

2017 Judges

Our 6th annual Young Writers Contest is now officially open! We’re excited to introduce our 2017 Panel of Judges: Chip Livingston, Poetry; Nick Arvin, Fiction, and Brad Wetzler, Nonfiction. We’re grateful to these accomplished writers for extending their expertise on behalf of our young writers. Learn more about their work here.

Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. The deadline for entrance is March 1st, 2017. There is no fee for participation. Read the full guidelines here.

For more information, or to learn how your school can receive a free copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, contact us at editor@writingforpeace.org.

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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The Night of Shattered Myth, by Swatilekha Roy

Swatilekha Roy is a 2016 Young Writers Contest Notable Finalist who writes from Durgapur, West Bengal, India. Swatilekha’s story caught the attention of our judges with its courage and hope. As one of our judges commented, “Swatilekha reaches for empathy in the darkest places of humanity and imagines not only what could cause a man’s extreme loss of compassion, but also where he might possibly find it again.”

In her words:

For me, the most deadly weapon yet discovered by mankind is a pen. ‘A pen is mightier than the sword.’ In today’s world, we have everything except peace and as they say, everything comes with a price. The biggest price yet has to be paid by those who fight for peace, physically and verbally. Writing has the power to bring about revolution. It is that gentle tremor that can shake the world. It is writing and writing alone that can change the face of the world for the better and make it a more peaceful place to dwell in. I would like to congratulate Writing for Peace on their outstanding feat of spreading the aura of peace through mere words.
~Swatilekha Roy

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The Night of Shattered Myth

By Swatilekha Roy

 

9th November, 1938

Just as our truck neared the corner of the Heidereuter Alley, the moon retired behind the clouds. Shards of glass littered the pavement. The night was filled with desperate shrieks, breaking glass, gunshots, and pleas for mercy.

Our orders: to ship these savage fools with yellow stars to extermination camps.

Our duty: to follow without question.

Our job: to kill.

The coal-black swastika on the rear of the truck showed a ghastly grin. Peace is a fool’s concept. War is the imperial truth. The synagogues heaved desperately, and thousands of Jews prayed for escape.

The orders were precise, “Execute as many children as you wish. They eat, yet can’t work.” Men and women would be sent to separate extermination-camps to be starved or tortured until death arrived as a welcome release.

As I was loading the emaciated Jewish children into the truck, I felt something tug at my shirt sleeve. Disgusted, I turned to find a bony child with hollow eyes. My duty was to kill, but something about him was familiar. And then it dawned on me. “Abbott?”

The child nodded. “I am Issao, Abbott’s son. They killed my father.” Tears welled in his eyes.

I suddenly remembered the pool we had loved as children, Abbott and I playing our reeds at the lake’s edge. Our different religions never came between us until Herr Hitler began his crazy rampage. When I was taught about the Jewish scourge, I hadn’t wanted to think about my friend. And now, looking into his son’s eyes, I was no longer a soldier. I was just a human being, an indebted friend.

I knew I was making a terrible mistake. I could almost hear the Führèr screaming, “Treason! Death!” But, the one speck of humanity that still blotted my soul rebelled. Acting on instinct, I checked to make sure the children were seated safely in back and bolted the latch. I turned the key and the truck’s engine rumbled to life. The swastika glared at me. Treachery? Death! As I sped off with the truckload of gaunt children, the moon abandoned its hideout and lit my way. Children were crying from hunger and fear and I was in disbelief. How could anyone justify the murder of innocent children?

Near the heavily guarded Berlin border, my heart began racing faster. There was no way I could pass through without getting shot. I prayed for a miracle.

As I neared the gates, the guard stopped me. “Your pass?”

“I, well…the orders were last moment. I’m shipping this scum out of Berlin. Here’s my badge.” He eyed me suspiciously. I flipped him a couple of Reichsmarks. “For bier!”

The guard saluted and, with a cry of “Heil Hitler,” opened the gates.

Driving away from Berlin, I racked my brain for connections I could use for the children’s safety, but most of the people or places I knew were far too risky. And then I remembered Paul, my childhood teacher and the kindest man I had ever known. He was my only hope. I made my way toward the familiar village from my youth.

As I reached the outskirts of town, I was comforted by the familiar sights. I drove through the village, past the solitary willow tree and my old church, and turned onto a dirt road marked by a rusty signboard advertising cheeses and fresh milk. I pulled to a stop in front of the farmhouse, got out, and knocked on the door, but when I asked for Paul, the woman shook her head.

“Please, Paul was my friend and teacher when I was a boy.”

She hesitated, wiping her sturdy hands on her apron. “Follow me,” she said, and stepped outside to lead me around the house toward the barn where a man with gray hair and rimmed glasses sat on a bench, reading. He looked up at my uniform in alarm.

“Paul,” I whispered. “Is that really you?”

“Have we met?”

“It’s Alfred. I’ve come for a refresher on formulas,” I said.

Paul flashed me a cautious smile and said, “Come sit, my friend. I had one particular formula that has stayed with me all these years.”

I sat beside him, laughing in relief as he gave my head the same sturdy knuckling I remembered from my childhood. He introduced me to his wife and began filling me in on the goings on at the farm, the cows, and children. It was if we had never been apart. But could I trust him with the children’s lives? With my life? Was it fair to ask him to risk his own life? His family and farm?

Before I could ask these questions, his wife was coming back around the house with two of the children. “There’s more, Paul.” She held their little hands tenderly, but her face reflected the horror of our situation.

Paul looked surprised as I broke into tears. “I, we, need your help. I’m sorry to ask, but they’re just children. Innocent children.”

Paul’s kindness and moral integrity was unchanged. He immediately agreed to help the children with this risky endeavor. Two of his farmhands emerged from the barn to help unload the children and get them into the house.  Some were barely alive. As the children were carried inside, I again felt a tug. “Did you know my father?” asked the boy.

I lifted the bony, weightless thing into my arms and kissed his dirty forehead. “Don’t worry. They’ll take good care of you.” I couldn’t answer his question, admit what a selfish, bloodthirsty cut-throat his father had once befriended.

“It’s time you leave,” Paul said. “Your truck will attract attention.”

I nodded, as Paul’s wife took Issao’s hand.

“May God bless you! We’ll take care of them,” my friend promised.

As I hoisted myself into the truck, the sky was illuminated with a brilliant orange hue. Even if I died today, I had no regrets. For once, I had been my own Führèr.

 

Meet Swatilekha Roy, 2016 Notable Finalist

Swatelikha Roy, finalistSwatilekha Roy is a seventeen years old amateur writer. The day to day fancies of nature leave her flabbergasted. Swatilekha’s favourite pastimes include sitting alone and listening to hardcore music, painting, reading novels and, of course, writing and editing. She loves critical study in literature. She is a diehard fan of fantasy and science fiction. Moreover, traveling intrigues her. Swatilekha writes to ventilate her feelings and to give in to the indomitable spirit of her fountain-pen. Writing gives her great joy. It’s her dream to become a writer and train amateurs like herself. This is the second time Swatilekha has participated in the Writing for Peace contest and the fact that she is a finalist delighted her. Earlier, she had also been selected as one of the best entrants in national level Campfire Young Writer of the Year Contest. Swatilekha would like to use this platform to extend her heartfelt gratitude towards everyone who stood by her: parents, family (especially, her uncle who is unfortunately no more) and friends.

 

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2017 Young Writers Contest

2013 Writing for Peace Young Writers ContestOur annual young writers contest will begin as scheduled on on September 1st, 2016. Watch for details and announcements on this blog soon.

The Peace Correspondent: Call for Submissions

Information is beginning to go up on the website about our new online periodical, The Peace Correspondent, a tri-annual solution-based publication. The first issue will be published on October 31st. Submission deadlines are September 15th. Guidelines are posted here.

DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts: Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceGuidelines are posted for the 2017 Edition. DoveTales is an extension of our mission to promote writing that explores the many aspects of peace.  Our purpose is to expose young writers to a diverse collection of thoughtful works by established and emerging writers, as well as our advisers. The journal will also feature works by the winners of our annual Young Writer Competition. The journal will be released on May 1st, 2017. There is no fee for submission, but please read our guidelines carefully.

Theme: The theme of our 2017 issue of DoveTales is Refugees and the Displaced. As in our earlier issues, we encourage contributors to take a broad view of the definitions within the context of peace.

  • The reading period begins July 1st, 2016 and ends January 15th, 2017, and the journal will be released on May 1st, 2016.

Support Writing for Peace

You can help make the Writing for Peace Mission a reality by supporting our youth outreach, international journal, and peace journalism in the following ways.

  • Help spread the word about Writing for Peace. One way to do that is to frequent our Facebook page, share and like our posts.
  • Purchase copies of DoveTales for yourself, friends, and loved ones.
  • Add Writing for Peace to the list of organizations you support in your annual giving. Writing for Peace is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID Number, 45-2968027. Donate now.

Thank you for your on-going support!

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Posted in Children in War, Holocaust, Inner Peace, Nonviolent Resistance, Peace, Racism, War, Young Writers Contest Guidelines | Tagged , | 2 Comments

We Shouldn’t Wait, By Melissa Hassard

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I was invited this week to talk with a group of young writing campers held at a local university campus. The e-mail I received advised there would be about 100 kids, from 3rd to 12th grade, and asked me to talk about “being an author,” what I write, and my writing process. I did some of that. But I also wanted to hear from the kids; how they are experiencing camp and the world.

Early in the conversation with them, I brought up Writing for Peace. I asked them how they thought a person might write for peace: how that might work, and how it is possible that writing might somehow accomplish peace. They were tentative at first but ultimately they came to these wonderful answers about understanding another person’s point of view through reading their stories, and how by reading what others have to say we can better understand their experiences. And then this one young man raised his hand and started speaking earnestly:

“Because really good writing,” he said, slowly, “can touch your heart.”  This beautiful response moved me deeply.

I was also asked to bring them a “writing prompt,” so I asked half of the room to write down two or three new laws–things we should start doing to make the world a better place, a safer place, a more peaceful place.

And to the other half of the room, I asked that they write two or three new laws of things we should stop doing in order to make the world a better, safer, more peaceful place.

Again, they were shy at first, but then they started getting into it and hand after hand went up. They’d come up with some amazing ideas, many of them talking about love and respecting all genders, skin colors, and religions. One young woman, cautiously and from deep in a corner, stated quietly but steadily that we needed to begin thinking more deeply and responding much more thoughtfully to the events happening around us.

Again, hand after hand went up, young people presenting idea after idea, until I ran out of time. And just as I had to stop calling on the young writers, one more hand went up–a clearly determined young girl who hadn’t yet raised her hand to speak during the time I’d been there. I called on her, of course. She said the most amazing thing.

She said, “We shouldn’t wait for these things to become laws. We should start doing them right now.”

I turned and put it to the group, “Who can start right now?”

Every hand went up.

“Really? You all are serious?”

The hands went up harder. Many nodded.

“Okay, then.”

I was so proud of these kids. I hope they settle firmly into their ideas and their generous and kind hearts. I hope they keep writing.

And I wanted to share these moments with you.

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser Melissa Hassard

Melissa Hassard, Writing for Peace Adviser

Melissa Hassard is speaker, writer, poet, mother, womanist, and activist — currently residing in North Carolina. Her background is public relations, advertising, and travel, and she considers herself a student of the world, who loves travel, history, culture, and language.  Writing is as much a part of her life as breathing. Partner at Sable Books and founder of Women Writers of the Triad, she is blessed to work with writers on meaningful projects — from helping writers publish, to teaching writing to survivors of domestic abuse, to organizing local community workshops and readings. Her essays and poems have been published in various journals, is she is now revising work for a first book, that will no doubt take her years to finish. For more information about Melissa and her work click here.

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Writing for Peace News

cropped-Peace-Correspondent-header.jpgThe Peace Correspondent: Call for Submissions

Information is beginning to go up on the website about our new online periodical, The Peace Correspondent, a tri-annual solution-based publication. The first issue will be published on October 31st. Submission deadlines are September 1st. Guidelines are posted here.

DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts: Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceGuidelines are posted for the 2017 Edition. DoveTales is an extension of our mission to promote writing that explores the many aspects of peace.  Our purpose is to expose young writers to a diverse collection of thoughtful works by established and emerging writers, as well as our advisers. The journal will also feature works by the winners of our annual Young Writer Competition. The journal will be released on May 1st, 2017. There is no fee for submission, but please read our guidelines carefully.

Theme: The theme of our 2017 issue of DoveTales is Refugees and the Displaced. As in our earlier issues, we encourage contributors to take a broad view of the definitions within the context of peace.

  • The reading period begins July 1st, 2016 and ends January 15th, 2017, and the journal will be released on May 1st, 2016.

Support Writing for Peace

You can help make the Writing for Peace Mission a reality by supporting our youth outreach, international journal, and peace journalism in the following ways.

  • Help spread the word about Writing for Peace. One way to do that is to frequent our Facebook page, share and like our posts.
  • Purchase copies of DoveTales for yourself, friends, and loved ones.
  • Add Writing for Peace to the list of organizations you support in your annual giving. Writing for Peace is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID Number, 45-2968027. Donate now.

Thank you for your on-going support!

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Posted in Advisory Panel Contributors, Peace | Tagged , | 1 Comment