Monthly Archives: September 2012

Mourning the Loss of Voices for Peace, by Andrea W. Doray

 Mourning the Loss of Voices for Peace

 Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board Memberby Andrea W. Doray

You may not know who Wislawa Szymborska was, but you might know who Carlos Fuentes was.

Szymborska and Fuentes are two of the most influential authors of our time, and each died recently. If you don’t know too much about them, that’s okay. I myself was only introduced to the work of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska (pronounced vees-WAH-vah shim-BOR-ska) during a 2010 poetry class at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. Since then, she has become my favorite poetic voice.

Szymborska, who won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, was a gentle and reclusive person who lived modestly in the old university city of Krakow, Poland. In interviews, she insisted her poetry was personal rather political; however I have found that her work brings the personal to the political, as well as the political to the personal. She died in Krakow in February at age 88.

Carlos Fuentes died earlier this year in Mexico City at age 83. He wrote his first novel at age 29 and published an essay in France on the day he died.

You may know Fuentes for his internationally acclaimed novel, The Death of Artemio Cruz, or for The Buried Mirror, which he also hosted as a five-part series on NPR. Fuentes lived in the United States from time to time and taught at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Brown universities…in flawless American English.

Fuentes was honored with the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor, as well as France’s highest civilian award given to a foreigner. For me, Fuentes belongs to a fabled tradition of literary author as social commentator.

My own writing…

This loss of these important literary voices leads me to think of the course of my own writing. I volunteer for Writing for Peace, dedicated to cultivating empathy and developing a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world.

And I have so much to say! Right now, I’m working on my second collection of poetry with themes of war and peace, injustice and compassion throughout.

This also leads to think of what you might have to say. I’ve talked about renowned authors here, but you don’t have to be famous to be heard speaking out for peace.

I hear you out there all the time, at city council or county commissioner or school board meetings. I see you packing boxes at the Food Bank. I see you holding signs and hear you knocking on doors for candidates whom you believe will speak with your voice.

I see you tweeting and posting and blogging. I see you standing up for what matters to you, and saying what you believe needs to be said.

What more could we have learned?

Still, I mourn losing voices like Szymborska’s and Fuentes’…voices from different languages, different worlds. What more could they have shared with us, taught us?

Szymborska created a poetic place for readers to go where we had not been able to go before. She takes on the tough subjects and makes them accessible to us.

Fuentes said just six years ago that he had many more books in him. As a testament to his convictions, his last post on Twitter (out of only 21), has been translated from Spanish to English as: “There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind and we must all help search for it.”

Excuse me now, would you?

I need to go write something.


Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. Learn more about Andrea here.



Get Involved:

Call for Submissions: The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Volunteer as a Writing for Peace Mentor: Learn more and apply here.


Next time…

Alexandra Kinias, Writing for Peace Adviser


A Word from Alexandra Kinias

Don’t miss our next post, when we’ll hear from  Writing for Peace Adviser, Alexandra Kinias. Alexandra is a mechanical engineer, screenwriter, photographer, and novelist. Born and raised in Egypt, her blog Silenced Voices, Wasted lives is dedicated to women’s issues in general and women in the Middle East in particular. Her novel, “Black Tulips”, reveals the hardships that women are exposed to living in male dominant societies.

Read more about Alexandra here.





Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.



Bop (k)not: Juba! Juba! by Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace AdvisorWhat Could Be More Important?

by Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), and winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award. Her poetry immerses us in everyday beauty – the line of sheets drying amidst hollyhocks and russian sage – while tearing away the illusion that we, as Americans, are somehow uniquely entitled to our gardens. Her poetry doesn’t allow the comfortable notion of distance, that war is something that happens across the ocean to “others.” A mother and father’s love for their child is the same in America, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Palestine, or Vietnam. Children all across this fragile globe are equally entitled to security and peace.

When asked to talk about her award winning book and the reasons she joined Writing for Peace, Veronica had this to say:

Vocabulary of Silence is a book of poems of witnessing-from-afar.  It is an effort not to escape the trial of what the country into which I was born is wreaking upon Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza, and its own countrymen and women.  But I mean the poems to be poems, that is, to have some song in them, to have passion, music, truth in them.  To be crafted.  The Bop (k)not: Juba! Juba! poem is in a new form, The Bop, devised by poet Afaa Michael Weaver.  Bop(K)not: Juba! Juba! was first published in Pemmican Press, and is included in Vocabulary of Silence.  (The Bop is a poetic form of recent invention, created by African-American poet Afaa Michael Weaver.)

I am glad to be part of the Writing for Peace organization.  What could be more important?  The entire world seems to be spinning toward war, with the United States invading, occupying, and being the colonial empire.  I do think that Writing for Peace, and also the idea of localized peace effort, is a wonderful one.

Bop (k)not: Juba! Juba!

problem…roses.  You’re hanging the just-washed clothes in the stringent sun,
the hollyhocks sigh their deep sighs as they lean their heavy stems against the wall,
the first lavender iris has come and gone, the russian sage is sunning itself. The wild
roses multiply, base and prickly, their bunched pink faces exhale a perfume to make you
giddy as you flip the wet sheets over the ropeline you’ve strung from fence to tree.
The birds are almost speaking.  You are happy.  Juba!

Juba: A city in southern Sudan on the White Nile River;
formerly, in the American South, a lively rustic dance with much “clapping and thigh-slapping,” the word Juba! repeated as a refrain;

an elaborate flounce, lacey twirl-swirl soft plated spin-spiral pine design of overlap:
the Golden Mean.  I mean: I part the leaves of the flower,
lift one then another & another to find the seam, flotsam of my dreams,
and there she is, the girl running to me, her face of chaste petals
tearing, her puregirl mons venus-bomb-napalm-photo-run—
I am strung
between Juba! and sorrow-song—

Juba: A city in Sudan on the White Nile River;
in America’s South, dance with much “hand clapping, thigh-slapping,” Juba! repeated;

the brazen sun revolving, stroking and spilling over me & the wide-mouthed poppies,
the buzz-hum iridescence of birdwhirling—what rises here I can barely name, how is it possible, this Juba!?          Nonong qua! nong qua! her Vietnamese girl-voice
clicks, too hot too hot—no—I say back, I love the sun—nong qua! nong qua!
she moans –  I turn –  I can’t turn away –  she is here in my garden…
how will I turn back – nonq qua! – how?  to my Juba! again?

 Juba: Sudan. White Nile. Dance, clap Juba! Repeat.



Get Involved:

Call for Submissions: The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Volunteer as a Writing for Peace Mentor: Learn more and apply here.




Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.