In This Moment, by Lacey Knight

In This Moment

By Lacey Knight

Lacey KnightI was in a waiting room this morning, my 18-month-old on my lap, when I realized the television was tuned to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the senate panel. As I intently read the subtitles, a young woman walked in and sat directly across from me. She was young and beautiful, conservatively dressed, and appeared quite self-possessed. I was suddenly self-conscious of my dirty hair, “mom” clothes, and the clearness with which I wear my emotions. I felt vulnerable sharing this moment with a stranger who, in my quick “analysis,” struck me as impermeable.

Still, I was drawn to the interview of this brave woman speaking her truths to our country. It opened a place in me that, in recent years, has been opened again and again. Her words shined a light on dark areas of my personal history. Watching her was painful, knowing that so many discredited her already. Knowing that she’ll suffer greatly for her courage. Knowing that my daughters are going to live in a time where woman are guilty until proven innocent.

My name was called and I snapped back to the waiting room, looking over sheepishly as I remembered my company. The young woman was leaning towards the T.V., her hands clasped together, the exact same look of pain streaked across her face as I know I’d been wearing on mine. She caught my eye as I stood and nodded to me, acknowledging what we had both shared.

In that moment, I wanted to shield her from the world and its harsh judgments; I wanted to hug her; I wanted to be her mom, a safe place for her. I felt extreme gratitude for Dr. Ford and her bravery. Gratitude to all those who continue to give a voice to the trauma and abuse while so many suffer in silence. Gratitude that this moment of truth was heard. Gratitude that my daughters will have champions of their own to lead them through their journeys, and gratitude that my heart was softened by it.

Thank-you, Dr. Ford.

 

Lacey Knight is a mom of three, business owner and a lover of words. She currently expresses herself through journaling, social media, coloring books and the occasional HR paperwork. As a woman business owner with an all female staff and mother to two daughters, she believes passionately in women empowering women and the power of strong community.

 

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Different Walks

Rachelle header2

Different Walks

By Rachelle Mawle

I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of public discourse, lately. So much of the conflict seems to center on long-held beliefs. And many of those who most adamantly cling to extreme views on politics, religion, and the social safety net, don’t seem to have experienced much beyond childhood parameters.

I know there are exceptions to the rule. Many young people emerge from their childhood bubbles with curiosity, bursting into the world with an open mind and a desire to learn about other faiths and cultures. But, more and more, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. So, I’m going to speak in generalities here, because right now it’s the other young people I’m most curious about.

Why is it that a child raised in one religion, the faith of their family, clings most tightly not to the sacred texts, but to the belief that their viewpoint is the only right one? And reinforce that belief by assuring themselves that everyone else is wrong or naive? Why is it that a person who (by sheer luck) is born into wealth and privilege can look at those in need of financial assistance and automatically assume that human being is a waste of money? Is it simply a lack of life experience and education, or a merciless cocktail of nature and nurture?

A concerning skin growth recently sent me trekking into Atlanta to visit a dermatologist. Doctor visits are always stressful, but adding the possibility of skin cancer had made me a nervous wreck. I was grateful that my fiancé and son could go with me. The doctor recognized that I was worried about the biopsy. She was kind and reassuring, talking about where she was raised, sharing that she had attended Stanford Medical School.

“How do you like Georgia?” she asked.

“It’s a definite adjustment,” I answered. I told her about my futile attempts to get my son into a decent school, and how I’d never had to worry about my son’s education in Fort Collins.

“I attended some wonderful private schools, growing up,” she said. “There are some good ones nearby.”

I smiled politely. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the income for private schools. It’s looking like we might just have to home school.”

I was baffled by her response.

“What a wonderful opportunity!” she said. “It’s so beneficial to be home schooled! And how lucky your child is to be taught by his parents! Really, more people should do that, I often wonder if I had been home schooled how much more I would have learned.”

Right. Let them eat cake. Oh, how lucky, I thought, that so many children don’t have access to quality education. For parents who aren’t wealthy (like this doctor), there are only two options. Enroll your child in a crappy school, or home school them. Heaven forbid both parents have to work to make a living, or perhaps don’t have the mental or emotional resources to educate their children on their own.

I just smiled again, and said “You’re right, my boy’s lucky.”

The doctor was raised with privilege. She seemed to be a caring person, but really had no idea how people below her demographic lived or what issues they had to face.

I have to wonder if even a Stanford Medical degree is not as beneficial as walking a mile in another physician’s stilettos – or in my case (on this particular day), Target flip-flops.

If an infant was born and grew up inside a box, they would emerge believing the world was a cube. Empathy and compassion develop from a personal effort to continue growth and education beyond what our parents or schools taught us. The reality is we never graduate from the need to continue learning. And we have much to learn from each other, from our different walks.

No one, no matter race, education, or finances, is superior to another.

We are all human beings.

***

Rachelle and Cory 2Rachelle Mawle is a writer, blogger, homeschool teacher, and devoted mother to a ten year old boy and two fur babies who test her on a daily basis. She recently moved to Atlanta, GA, from Fort Collins, CO, to be with her fiancé, and is still in the process of adjusting…maybe forever. Check out her blog at www.anotherdailydisaster.com.

 

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Let’s Catch Up!

41716478_541593026272917_3315322037882322944_n (2)While our blog has been quiet, our board and contributors have been busy. There has been much activity on our Writing for Peace Facebook page. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our 2018 DoveTales Book Launch Celebration, you’re really missing something. The vine readings are absolutely wonderful. You can go straight to our video library on the page, but we’ll also have them on our site in the next couple of weeks. We still have several promised vines from contributors and board members. We’ll keep posting them as long as they keep coming in!

Developments among migrant and refugee communities have been heartbreaking. Detained children continue to be separated from their parents at unprecedented numbers. Many of our writers are actively resisting these (and so many other) injustices. Thank you for your work, and please continue to keep us posted on your progress and stamina. Let us know how our community can support your work.

Our thoughts are with those in the path of the hurricane. Wishing you safety from the storm.

In peace,

Carmel Mawle
President and Founder
mawlecarmel@gmail.com

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Empathy in Art: Embracing the Other Book Launch Celebration

2018 DoveTales Front coverWe are excited to announce the coming release of our sixth edition of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. Our latest book is themed and titled Empathy in Art: Embracing the Other and features the work of 70 writers and artists from countries all over the globe, examining the far-reaching implications of empathy through their chosen art forms, as well as the winning work from both our 2017 and 2018 Young Writers Contest.

We hope you’ll join us for our online book launch celebration with a series of short video readings from our tables to yours. You’ll find these sumptuous readings on our Facebook Page beginning on August 15th, 2018.

This book is rich with imagery, taking the idea of  “embracing the other” a step further, with the hope of sharing nourishment and breaking bread together. You’ll find that many of our contributors lingered in the tastes and fragrances of sustenance. Some of our advisers’ have even shared their favorite recipes!

Dedicated to the memory of Sam Hamill, who passed away this spring, Empathy in Art: Embracing the Other, features two fabulous advisers, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley and Wang Ping.

Front Cover: Christopher Woods, “All About Free.”

Available for pre-order now, here!

Book Description:
DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, “Empathy in Art: Embracing the Other” edition features poetry, essays,  and short stories from our 2017 and 2018 Young Contest Winners, our advisers, established, and emerging writers, as well as strikingly beautiful art and photography.

$14.95 Paperback, 436 Pages

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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2018 Young Writers Contest Winners

Gandhi gentle way quill

2018 Young Writers Contest Winners

Judges: Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, poetry; Adriana Páramo, nonfiction; and Djelloul Marbrook, fiction

Participating in the Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest takes a commitment to research, an open mind, and refining the craft of writing. The work that came in from young writers across the globe exemplified this commitment. It has been an honor and privilege to read them. In the words of Writing for Peace Adviser and Judge Djelloul Marbrook: “First, it has been a privilege and a pleasure to read these stories, not a chore. All of them are well written, poignant and eye-opening…I urge each of these writers to continue blessing us with their work.”

We would like to thank our judges for taking the time to read and consider our young writers’ entries. We would also like to acknowledge all of the young writers who took the time to research a new culture and write a story, essay, or poem for the Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest. Completing this challenge is no small achievement, and we salute your commitment to expanding your knowledge base and developing your craft. We would also like to thank the teachers and mentors who encouraged their students to take our challenge, and then inspired and guided them to prepare their best work.

In Poetry~

First Place: Anna Yang from Saratoga, California, for “I Remember.”

Second Place: Booyeon Choi from Concord Massachusets, for “Fragments.”

Third Place: Lisa Zou from Chandler, Arizona for “Bodhisattva.”

In Fiction~

First Place: Sarah Ryu from Exeter, New Hampshire, for “The Hummingbird (Huitzilli).”

Second Place:  Chang Hyeon Park from Seoul, South Korea, for “Just A Little bit of Patience.”

Third Place:  David Gorodetsky from Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, for “Bleached Flour in Unbleached Hands.”

In Nonfiction~

First Place: Carolyn Qu from Smithtown, New York, for “The South Korean Suicide Epidemic.”

Second Place: Sally Liu from Holzheim, Bayern, Germany, for “Where Do You Come from?”

Third Place: Yu-Chen Lim from Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada for “The Merchant.”

Finalists~

Poetry: Michael Pieruccini & Jasmine Dhaliwal

Fiction: Minsung Kim & Alex Kim

Nonfiction: Lily See

Congratulations to one and all!

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Using Fiction to Make a Difference, By C. Hope Clark

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Using Fiction to Make a Difference

By C. Hope Clark

 hope 2014-06-13 16.56.56 (2)Writing for peace . . . writing for any cause . . . usually comes in the form of nonfiction. The narrative essay, the journalism piece, the academic study. These days we’re bombarded with so many headlines, causes, and pressure to take a stand, that the noise is deafening.

Pundits shout. Protesters yell. Few can hold a calm, civil conversation and discuss the issues in a normal tone of voice. There are many people in the world who want to hear the discussion, or better understand the need for peace and understanding, but they’re so weary of the cacophony that they close their ears, and therefore, their minds.

When I was a child, I was taught that to teach your religion you have to live it by example, not shout it, and not force it upon others. In other words, people are more prone to want to learn about your religion when they see it in practice, and witness how remarkable a life it can mold. Writers seek to show don’t tell in their stories. In life, to tell someone how great that religion is doesn’t work nearly as well as showing. And of course shouting about it works least of all.

The same goes for peace. Whether talking immigration, guns, war, or political asylum, we cannot demand change. It’s counterintuitive. So how do we set the example for these sorts of issues and reach more people in a more convincing manner?

Fiction.

Storytelling has existed since the invention of language. Before man could write, he was passing down stories from generation to generation by talking around the campfire. Surely some were embellished, much like the game of whispering in someone’s ear, then they whisper the same story in someone else’s ear, then so on around the circle . . . only for the end result to be altered. However, the point of the story usually remained intact. The embellishment usually was made to create a more memorable point.

Poetry has long been a courier of communication, putting difficult topics into lyrical prose. To make it more palatable? Maybe. To dramatize a subject? Also, maybe. But if it opens up someone’s ears so that they listen to the message, then poetry is powerful.

The same goes for fiction.

Jean Kwok was a child when her family immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn. Her multi-award-winning novels center around families uprooted and acclimating in new countries. Girl in Translation is her most popular and powerful, painting a story very similar to her own life.

The novels Border Child and The Iguana Tree were written by Michele Stone, a noted South Carolina author, with an emphasis on Mexican border crossings. She personalized the plight of Mexican immigrants through the effects on the children. Touching and poignant, the books have been recommended as reading in some school districts.

Before You Know Kindness, by Chris Bohjalian, depicts the issue of gun control in fiction, when a man’s young daughter accidentally shoots him, shattering the family dynamic.

Noted suspense/thriller author Heather Graham danced with human trafficking in A Dangerous Game, from her New York Confidential series.

Author Angie Thomas published The Hate U Give, about a cop killing an unarmed teenager, and how the community ripped itself apart taking different stances on the why and how it all went down. Who was right? Who knows the real answer, and what really is real?

Fiction allows the reader to be impartial, absorb the story, and envision how critical topics like these seriously impact people without the spin of television news, when doors are shut and nobody’s watching. Enabling the reader to view things three-dimensionally, witnessing how issues affect individuals rather than politics and journalism. And this type of storytelling, like with our ancestors long before us, sticks in the mind.

Want to write about issues? Before you consider a journalism feature, editorial, or an edgy blog post, step back. What if you told the world a story instead? A fiction story with all the realism of life. Capture people’s minds and hearts by depicting painful need through a tale.

Then once you have their attention, and you’re all talking nicely about the book, you can morph into the real facts . . . and possibly made headway toward real change.

 

Hope Newberry Sin FINAL COVER (2)BIO: Mystery author C. Hope Clark’s newest release is Newberry Sin, set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until they become murder. The fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries. Hope speaks to conferences, libraries, and book clubs across the country, is a regular podcaster for Writer’s Digest, and adores connecting with others. She is also founder of FundsforWriters.com, an award-winning site and newsletter service for writers.  She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina with her federal agent husband where they spin mysteries just for fun.

Many thanks to C. Hope Clark for sharing her insights with us. To learn more about her mystery series, visit her at www.chopeclark.com, and follow her wonderful blog tour! Check out the trailer here: The C. Hope Clark blog tour trailer

Writing for Peace

Writing for Peace News

Young Writers contest

The Young Writers contest results have been delayed until Tuesday, May 8th. Check our blog for results next week. Apologies for the wait!

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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In Memoriam, Sam Hamill (1943-2018)

Happier times with Sam Hamill. From left to right, Phillip Richards, Sam Hamill, Carmel Mawle, and Lorraine Currelley

Happier times: (Left to right) Phillip Richards, Sam Hamill, Carmel Mawle, and  Lorraine Currelley.

In Memoriam, Sam Hamill (1943-2018)

By Carmel Mawle

Sam once told me that he thought I’d move away from writing prose. Our flights had been delayed after his reading in New York, and he’d seen a short verse I’d written for my daughter. “You’re a poet,” he said. “You just haven’t accepted it, yet.”

Coming from anyone else, I would have long ago forgotten those words. Sam was down-to-earth and approachable, but despite his lack of pretension, his contribution to the art of poetry, to the collective body of literature, and to peace activism is unparalleled. I listened to Sam, and though we had our occasional differences, I often came around to his way of seeing things. Sam always gave me the time to do that. He was one of our earliest advisers, a mentor, and a friend.

When a man like Sam Hamill dies, there should be a collective pause, a contemplative stillness. Of course, it doesn’t happen. The sun sets, and rises again, and those of us whose lives were transformed by Sam (and we are so many), are left with both an ending and a beginning.

For us, there must be a quiet moment to breathe in the cold air of this new reality – a world without Sam – and then we’ll need to gather ourselves and begin again, to continue onward without him. Through his life and writings, he left us a well-lit path. It will be our life-time task to follow it, in as many ways as we are individuals. Sam would want that for us.

I’m still writing prose – the stories he knew I would have to write – but it’s possible I’ll come around to his way of seeing things. He’s given me plenty of time.

(Photograph by Ian Boyden, 2017)

(Photograph by Ian Boyden, 2017)

Sam Hamill Official Obituary [September 5, 1943 – April 14, 2018]

When the first poetry books from Copper Canyon Press went on sale in 1972, they were revelatory showing that the humble technology of the book could be, and indeed should be, an artifact of craftsmanship itself. Copper Canyon elevated the publishing of poetry books to an art of intrinsic beauty as exemplars of the printer’s craft. One of the driving forces behind this new guild craftsmanship was poet, editor, publisher, translator and fine printer Sam Hamill who died at his home in Anacortes, WA on April 14, 2018. Mr. Hamill was 74.

Arguably no one did more for the art of poetry in all its manifestations in the latter half of the 20th century and early 21st than Mr. Hamill. Born to a carnival fry cook at the end of WWII, Hamill was put up for adoption at the age of three by a father who felt the carnival life was no place for a child. Hamill grew up in Utah, the adopted son of educated poultry farmers who had a deep love of literature and history. As such, the young orphan was steeped in the language and poetry of Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, and Frost by the time he reached puberty. As Hamill has said in interviews, his adopted father would lull him to sleep night after night reading the canonical poems of the English language. These would stay with him for the rest of his life.

Growing up in a home where poetry was spoken out loud, Hamill in later years insisted poetry should always begin in the ear as a spoken form imbued with the rhythm of the heart. He distrusted poems that clearly came into being on the soulless medium of a computer screen with spellcheck. The many recordings of his spoken poetry on CD and tape attest to this resonant craftsmanship that began in his tympanum as a child. Hamill has been praised by his peers for having one of the finest reading voices for poetry in the English language.

In 1973, Hamill garnered a $500 award for editorial excellence for his work on the student paper at University of California Santa Barbara. Poet Kenneth Rexroth, who taught there, had taken Hamill under his wing after the younger poet ran away from home in his late teens to find his place in the poetic renaissance of the Beats on the West Coast. With prize money in hand, Hamill became the Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press. Tree Swenson (subsequently director of the Academy of American Poets and Hugo House) and poet, translator, author and friend, William O’Daly were co-founders.

Jim Harrison has said: “Hamill has reached the category of a National Treasure though I’d doubt he’d like the idea.” This doubtless pertains because Hamill was by his own admission forever the outsider in the high-status world of Pulitzer Prizes and academic accolades. He never sought employment in academia, instead taught in prisons. He held fast to the belief that poetry was a sacred craft irrespective of the newest trends lauded by East coast taste setters. Copper Canyon in its heyday, from the early 1970s through to the latter 1990s, published some of the finest poets in any language, including David Lee, Olga Broumas, William Stafford, Jaan Kaplinski and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, in crafted books that were singularly beautiful. Its catalog was always eclectic, unique, revelatory. It is perhaps as publisher and editor at Copper Canyon Press that Hamill made his enduring mark. Hamill has been credited with single-handedly resurrecting the careers of such masters as Hayden Carruth, Thomas McGrath, and latterly Kenneth Rexroth in the seminal work in one volume, The Collected Poems of Kenneth Rexroth (2003), which Hamill meticulously co-edited. Poets across the spectrum remain indebted to Hamill for how assiduously he championed them in their formative years. He was also a renowned letterpress printer and it infused every aspect of his work.

Hamill published four books of literary prose, seventeen books of poetry, alongside many well-regarded translations and innumerable broadsides. His early collected works, Destination Zero 1970-1995, garnered sincere praise from such luminaries as W.S. Merwin, Donald Hall and Denise Levertov. Indeed, he has been acclaimed worldwide for the lyricism of his poems, perhaps nowhere with more enthusiasm than in Latin America. His poems unfold in the direct language of the spoken word, with a clear eye to the natural world. Stripped of artifice or academic embellishment, these poems have been acknowledged as some of the finest by a minor poet in the American literary canon. He was also an able and respected translator from many languages, and his translations of the great Asian poets such as Du Fu, Li Po, and Wang Wei, and latterly haiku masters such as Basho and Issa, have never been superseded. As for Hamill’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, it is said that the: “extraordinary strength is that it has captured the poetry of Lao Tzu’s original without sacrificing the resonance of the text’s many meanings and possible interpretations.”

After an invitation to the White House in the winter of 2003 by then First Lady Laura Bush, Hamill publicly renounced the invitation and founded the organization Poets Against War (PAW), which sought to use poetry to oppose the Iraq War. Within a year, many thousands of poets had published anti-war poems on the PAW website, and a bestseller of selected poems was put out by The Nation Press under the same name. It inspired a worldwide movement of films and festivals dedicated to the poetry of pacifism. While this act of literary rebellion put Hamill squarely in the national zeitgeist, in later years he was to lament that PAW seemed to overshadow his lifelong vow to the art of poetry, to his own work as a fine poet, translator, publisher and printer. Overlooked were his twelve years as editor at the American Poetry Review or that he had served thirty years with the Port Townsend Writer’s Conference in Washington, including 10 years as their Director. In the wake of his nationally covered protest, the east coast establishment seemingly ignored all this modest poet had done for poetry spanning a fifty-five year career. To the end of his productive life, Hamill remained a fiercely independent and outspoken poet.

Hamill’s quiet generosity transformed the lives of many individuals. He never hesitated to help those in need, whether it was a gift of knowledge, time or means.

Hamill received many honors and awards, including NEA, Guggenheim, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Lila Wallace – Reader’s Digest Fund, and Woodrow Wilson Foundation fellowships, The Stanley Lindberg Lifetime Achievement Editor’s Award from the Rainier Writing Workshop – Pacific Lutheran University, Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry from the Washington Poets Association, two Washington State Governor’s Writers Day Awards, the First Amendment Award from PEN USA, a US Japan Friendship Commission Fellowship, and was awarded the Decoración de la Universidad de Carabobo in Venezuela. Hamill is predeceased by his wife of many years, the painter and artist Gray Foster.

Hamill is survived by his daughter, Eron Hamill and her husband Roger Mah of Richmond, BC and by his partner, Juniper White. As Hamill wrote in his introductory poem of Destination Zero: “It is enough, perhaps/ to say – We live here/ And let it go at that.” In the case of this wise poet, a poignant truth.

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Speak Out for the Right Reasons, by Kira Marshall-McKelvey

“When we’re constantly feeling good about ourselves, putting our altruism on our CVs, how selfless an act is it really?”

Speak Out for the Right Reasons

By Kira Marshall-McKelvey

I am a member of Colorado State University Speakout! program, a community that facilitates weekly writing workshops with incarcerated and at-risk youth populations. I have been participating in these workshops at the Larimer County Jail with fellow students since January, and have been amazed, inspired, and in awe of the work that comes out of these workshops. I am delightedly envious of the poetry that seems to slide off the tongues of these writers, and inspired by their bravery in telling difficult, heart-wrenching stories with such grace and poise. While it may sound cliché, the lessons I have learned about rhyme schemes, writing from the heart, and tempo have come from Wednesday nights at the jail.

As we charge towards the end of the semester, however, I must take a step back and consider why I’m doing this work, and who is truly benefitting from these workshops. At a Speakout! training a few months ago, the guest speaker reminded us that the bar is set tremendously low for volunteers—we are blindly accepted as do-gooders, as inspirational, as selfless.

When we’re constantly feeling good about ourselves, putting our altruism on our CVs, how selfless an act is it really?

This is not a Speakout!-specific problem—there is a certain danger to embodying, or even accepting, the holier-than-thou identity that can come with volunteer work. There are troubling power dynamics associated with the idea that we, the volunteers, are bestowing our knowledge and wisdom on “the Other.” When we say we want to empower others by giving them a voice—but leave the jail with a “helping people high”—who benefits?

This isn’t to say that empowerment isn’t a noble goal. We cannot scorn the hope of giving the marginalized a space to speak, to exist freely, but spending an hour a week in a jail doesn’t give us claim to say we “get it.” Writing and publishing about our work with these writers is a tremendous privilege—it is a demonstration of power. And it all too often leaves out the voices of those we tried to include in the first place.

Frequently revisiting the “why am I here?” question is necessary in volunteer contexts, and the answer can change. I entered Speakout! with the intention to help others, to give them a space to write and create. Now I recognize the complexities in using language that implies I am “giving” something. My work at CSU challenges me to question stereotypes about incarcerated individuals, and to reject the low-bar that the public has set for volunteers.

We may accept the nuances and ambiguities with volunteer work while still finding merit in engaging in these workshops. We can want to help while recognizing the privilege in doing so. We can realize that there are multiple benefitters from this work, and that we, in fact, have been receiving wisdom from those we wanted to help all along.

Kira WFP (3)Kira Marshall-McKelvey is a second year Masters student in Rhetoric and Composition at Colorado State University. She teaches college composition and writes in the areas of digital feminism, Native American rhetoric, and prison literacy. She works with incarcerated writers as a member of CSU’s Speakout! program, and serves as social media intern for Writing for Peace. When she is not working or studying, she enjoys going on hikes, doing yoga, and hanging out with her two delightful cats.

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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Swoop, Bash, and Submit!

Kurt Vonnegut

“Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut

The truth is, there are as many different writing processes as there are writers. Where do you find your inspiration? Is it in individual acts of courage, like we’re seeing in the young people standing up to the status quo, determined to change a power structure dominated by corporations and their lobbyists? Is your pen fired up by  injustices, like children torn from their parents by an immigration policy that is applied without compassion, especially toward people of color? We’d love to hear about your inspirations and writing processes!

In the meantime, whether you’re a swooper or a basher, the ultimate goal is to get your writing out there where it can make a difference. Today, March 15th, is the final day to submit work for our annual literary journal. If you haven’t already sent us your work, you’ll find the DoveTales guidelines and submit button here.

If you’re planning on entering our contest, you have a couple more weeks. The deadline is April 1st. For ages 13-19, it’s a fun and free challenge that could lead to publication, awards, and other opportunities. You can learn more about the 2018 Young Writers Contest here.

Wishing you all much success in your writing for peace,

Carmel Mawle
President and Founder

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

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Partial Blueprint for Becoming Citizen Journalists, by Djelloul Marbrook

 

keyboard

A Partial Blueprint for Becoming Citizen Journalists

By Djelloul Marbrook

The Atlantic’s recent story that libraries are moving to fill the vacuum left by the corporatization and consolidation of local news media is one of those rare American occasions when good news bores a hole of light through the maelstrom of bad news.

The idea is as promising as it is challenging. Local libraries depend on local political support, and politicians are unlikely to greet any improvement in local news coverage with enthusiasm. The lack of transparency caused by media consolidation into the hands of six right-wing oligarchs suits politicians just fine, even the so-called progressives among them.

But all news is essentially local, even when it comes from Washington. And the destruction of local news coverage by the greed-driven movement to consolidate the press is nothing less than a national tragedy. Here’s a modest example. When I was a news editor at The Washington Star our newsroom quickly noticed that almost to a man the Watergate villains came from places where the press was less than diligent, less than aggressive.  The Watergate perps were accustomed to getting away with corruption and they brought that corruption to Washington, just as some of them (notably Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, former Baltimore County executive and governor of Maryland) had brought it to county seats and state capitals. That’s how important a vigilant, independent press is.

Libraries with their space and high-speed Internet connections may not be the only resort for citizen journalists who aspire to fill the dangerous vacuum left by corporate greed. Bookstores, art galleries, indeed all commercial and public spaces devoted to community are potential headquarters for informal committees or individuals producing blogs, email reports and websites to share news and opinion.

Citizen journalists can be recruited from all walks of life—retirees, students, veterans. They can be nurses, lawyers, accountants, cops, farmers, anyone interested in finding out what is really going on in a community, not what the politicians tell you is going on. Those politicians leave paper trails of their good deeds and their wrongdoing, and those paper trails are public records accessible in town and city halls, county administrative buildings and other places where public records are kept. Those records, not what politicians tell constituents and reporters, tell the story of a community’s real life, its hidden life, the life all too many politicians seek to keep hidden. They may consist of town council or school board or zoning board minutes, or departmental reports to mayors and managers and supervisors, or accountants’ analyses, or the recommendations of consultants, or the budgets of the police, fire and other agencies. They’re all public, and they all tell much more than any politician is apt to tell you.

Television, and to some extent print media too, depends on talking heads, on imagery to convey the news, and all are often more concerned with dramatization than enlightenment. But the Founding Fathers left us a failsafe, the public nature of the proceedings of government. What is really happening is in the fine print. When government approves a contract, for example, that contract is on record somewhere, and an under-the-table deal between some local official and the contractor will suggest itself in a study of that contract and who signed it. This is exactly the kind of reporting the media are no longer doing, and their negligence is a danger to the republic. You can change that, not at the polls every two years but right now.

You don’t have to be a journalist to ferret out this information, to read and understand it, to share it, to comment about it. You just have to be curious and dogged. It doesn’t matter how well a story is written, it only matters that the story is written. Over time such citizen groups will become skilled if self-taught journalists persist, journalism schools and their high-priced classes notwithstanding. I promise you this, because I’m self-taught and a veteran news editor and reporter. Your experience will teach you.

The Internet, just as envisioned by its founder, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, is the shining hope of journalism, with constraints of its own, but not the financially daunting constraints of newspapers and TV stations, which require massive financial backing. Today the real estate of most newspapers is worth more than the newspapers.

Retirees and all our aging population are an incredible resource for this citizen project. Who better to study the decisions of a town council, for example, than a retired lawyer? Who better to study the police budget and annual report than a retired police officer? Who better to consider the local health care situation than a retired nurse? But they must not be daunted by their lack of reporting experience. If they can speak intelligibly they can do this job, they can rise to this challenge.

Many independent stores, such as booksellers, are trying to find ways to attract people to them, and this is one way they can do it. For example, the local book dealer can mount a 26-inch screen in the shop window to display local news and opinion and photographs. That’s journalism, that’s news reporting, and it counts. It can transform your community from a fiefdom of politicians to an implement of change for the better. It can keep local government honest. For example, what about that broken traffic light at Sixth and Newton? When will the town fix it? How much will it cost? What about that pothole at the corner of 8th and Columbia that has already blown out dozens of tires? Why did Tom Smith see the town’s snowplow clearing the private driveway of the mayor before all the main streets were cleared? Just asking the questions helps clear the air. Ask them. People will provide the answers as on the TV show “The Wisdom of the Crowd”.  It’s called crowd-sourcing.

The news can be delivered in all sorts of ways: on digital screens, by email, in blogs, websites, almost any way you can imagine. The screens can be placed anywhere the public can see them. And the information can be revised at any time—corrected, improved, deleted.

An excellent example of such a blog, delivered by listserv to our email address every day, is the lively Gossips of Rivertown in Hudson, New York, which as of now is getting more than 12,000 page views a week. It covers the city council and many issues of interest not only to Hudson residents but also to residents of a wider area.

Think how exhilarating such a project can be, how it can inspire students to become journalists and inspire ordinary citizens to become active in their communities, how it can give hope to the voiceless, to the ignored. All you need is a computer, perhaps a tablet, a camera, and your own common sense.

Above all, don’t buy into the idea that journalism is for professionals. It’s not. It’s about refreshing the republic. It’s about keeping American government at all levels honest. It can do much more to change things than electing a demagogue who promises you everything while lining his own pockets. Take the responsibility for cleaning up American governance into your own hands, not on election day but right now. Every day. And, by the way, have fun.

djelloulDjelloul Marbrook is a member of the Writing for Peace Panel of Advisers and is serving as our Young Writers Fiction Judge. Marbrook is the acclaimed author of five books of fiction, five books of poetry, and five more books are currently forthcoming from Leaky Boot Press, United Kingdom. Marbrook maintains a lively presence on Twitter and Facebook. A U.S. Navy veteran and retired newspaper editor, he lives in the mid-Hudson Valley with his wife Marilyn. His newspaper career included the Providence (RI) Journal, the Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, the Baltimore Sun, the Winston-Salem Journal, the Washington Star, and Media News dailies in northeast Ohio and northern New Jersey. He is the editor-in-chief of Arabesques, a trilingual online and print literary quarterly.

Nothing True Has a NameMarbrook’s latest book of poetry is Nothing True Has A Name, published by Leaky Boot Press. These alchemical poems challenge our compulsion to categorize and pigeonhole. They inquire deeply into the passion for containment symbolized by classical Greek vessels. The poems seek to define the idea of ennobling elixirs. The image of galleys sailing on the winds and laden with Greek amphorae tied to each other by their necks haunts this collection. The poet concludes that names inevitably mislead us. He urges us to transcend them, not revel in them.

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From Writing for Peace Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

 

New Defense Strategy: War With Great Nations & Arms Race

Dr. Margaret FlowersThis week, following the recent announcement of a new National Defense Strategy that focuses on conflicts with great powers and a new arms race, the Pentagon announced an escalation of nuclear weapons development. The United States’ military is spread across the world, including several dangerous conflict areas that could develop into an all-out war, possibly in conflict with China or Russia. This comes at a time when US empire is fading, something the Pentagon also recognizes and the US is falling behind China economically.

2018 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 April 1st, 2018.
  • There is no fee for participation.
  • Writers, ages 13-19, may submit in one of three categories – poetry, fiction, or nonfiction.

Check out the complete guidelines here.

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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