Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Children’s War, by Shaindel Beers

ChildrensWar (2)The Children’s War: Poems on Children’s Artwork of War

by Shaindel Beers

From an eight year old Darfurian girl’s drawing

The tank, bigger than the hut, fires
and all of the colors explode from the hut.
Why is this man green?
Because he is from the tank.
Why is this woman red?
Because she was shot in the face.
And why aren’t you colored in?
Because it is like I wasn’t even there.

~

After a thirteen year old Darfurian boy’s drawing

Women flee from their houses as smoke rises
like terrible angels and men in green herd them
like cattle. What are the men doing to the women?
Forcing them to be wives. Their houses are gone.
Yes, when you are thirteen,
to be a wife is having a house, a man.
But he is right; the women with the soldiers
are warm and brown; their hair flies around them
as they run. The women who will not be wives
are outlines, uncolored, upside down
in the foreground.

~

After a photo of a Chechen girl on a train

I am four, almost five, and I am beautiful.
I have my red hat, my red coat; I ride
on my mother’s lap. People smile at me.
I make them happy. When my mother looks
at them, they look away. My mother has
brown eyes. I have blue. I have only seen
my father in pictures. We have to practice
my mother says. Where are we going?
To visit Grandma in the country.
What will you do there?
Help Grandma gather eggs and be brave
even if the hens peck me.
Ride Doishka, the pony. I look out the window
at the wildflowers speeding by.
And you mustn’t cry says mother if we get there
and there is no Grandma, no pony.

~

About Shaindel Beers, Writing for Peace Guest Contributor

Shaindel Beers, Guest ContributorShaindel Beers’ poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in Eastern Oregon’s high desert and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary. A Brief History of Time, her first full-length poetry collection, was released by Salt Publishing in 2009. Her second collection, The Children’s War and Other Poems, was released in February of 2013.

Author photo by Catching Violet Photography.

ChildrensWar (2)About the book:  In the first half of The Children’s War, Shaindel Beers looks at artwork done by and about child survivors of war, embodying the voices of the children, their families, and the humanitarian aid workers sent to help them. From there, the book opens out into an exploration of the war at home and the war within ourselves, exploring violence in mythology, domestic violence, and the wars that occur, sometimes, within our own bodies. These poems act as a survival guide, showing that hope exists even in the darkest of places and that perhaps poetry is the key to our healing.

Purchase a signed copy through http://shaindelbeers.com or “regular” copies through Amazon, BN.com, etc.

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here. And watch our blog for announcements about the soon-to-be-released E-book!

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

Diminishing The Hatred Between The Two Peoples, by Natan Blanc

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserMy name is Natan Blanc and I am 20 years old. I live in Haifa, Israel.

When I was 13 my city was hit by missiles during the second Lebanon war. We had only a few minutes to run to the bottom floor every time the alarm was heard. My friend’s house was hit by a missile and was completely destroyed. Fortunately, she was not at home at the time.

When I was 15, another war broke-  the  Gaza War of 2008. My city, Haifa, is in northern Israel. It is close to Lebanon and far away from Gaza. Northern Israel was hardly affected during the Gaza War. Even though my city wasn’t hit, no friends’ houses were ruined, and my life went on as usual,  of the two wars, the Gaza War was far harder for me. The reason was the hatred I suddenly saw all around me.

People were happy when the enemy was hit. People rejoiced every time news came of another bombing, another attack on enemy territory. People were indifferent to innocent lives lost on the other side, indifferent to children dying.

The war was four years before my destined date for joining the Israeli army. I heard my friends saying, “Boy, I wish I were in the army now so I could go and kill those Arabs!”

That was when I learned the real evil of war- it causes death and ruin, but even worse than that is the blinding hatred and demonization it causes between the two sides. The houses ruined by the missiles could be rebuilt, but the hatred between the people will be almost impossible to reverse.

It was during the Gaza War that I decided that I would not  serve in the Israeli army. I decided I will not take part in building up the hatred between the Israelis and Arabs in Israel. I changed my mind a few times in between, but four years later, in November 2012, I reported to the induction base and refused to join the Israeli army. I was imprisoned a total of ten times, spending six months in and out of prison. Eventually, the army tired of me, and I will begin alternative civil service in September.

I don’t know if this conflict in the Middle East will ever end, but I hope my refusal was a small step towards diminishing the hatred between the two peoples.

About Natan Blanc, Young Adviser

Natan Blanc was born in Jerusalem, and moved to Haifa (a major city in Israel) when he was a kid. Haifa is a “mixed” city, with both Arabs and Jews, so he learned about co-existence and peace between people of different religions at an early age. Learn more about Natan here.

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Searching for directions since 9/11, by Andrea W. Doray

Another September 11 has come and gone, but our shock and grief lives on. Here’s a real-time look at how 9/11 felt to me…then and now.

Searching for directions since 9/11

By Andrea W. Doray

Tuesday, September 11, 2001: Driving to work, running late. Hearing the news reports breaking into the oldies rock radio station. Listening—breathless, heart pounding—as the description changes from a small plane hitting the Twin Towers to what’s really happening. Speeding up, driving too fast, dodging other dazed motorists. Parking my car frantically at the nearest entrance. Running up the stairs to my office and my coworkers. Scanning the shocked faces, hearing people on the telephone. Calling my own family. Decamping with my colleagues to the conference room. Gathering around the only television in the building. Exchanging sounds of bewilderment. Falling silent, attempting to absorb the events. Supporting those who go home to their families. Learning of AA Flight 77. Wallowing in disbelief. Working with HR to order pizza, lots of pizza, for the hundreds of employees in our organization. Learning of UA Flight 93. Staring, glazed over, at the television, disregarding my responsibilities. Driving home. Running to my neighbor’s door, too shocked, too numb, to cry.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001: Watching in horror, again and again. Learning the extent, the significance. Trying to reach friends, or friends of friends, or family of friends on the East coast. Imagining what it looked like to be there, what it smelled like, sounded like, felt like. Feeling fear, anger, confusion. Sleepwalking, in the daytime.

Thursday, September 13, 2001: Accepting the eerie silence in the skies. Cringing when only the military jets swoop overhead. Reading, watching, listening to the news. Scrutinizing the lists of the victims, the rescuers, the dead, the missing. Holding family close.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002: Finishing the last leg of a cycling trip through the Loire Valley. Being welcomed for the previous two weeks in French homes and chateaus. Accepting warm hospitality. Receiving a map and directions—in French—to our chambre d’hôte when we were lost. Appreciating the gratitude of the people in France for American forces during World War II.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002: Arriving by train in Paris. Dragging my luggage and cycling gear down the sidewalks from the station. Pausing at newsstands where New York is burning on all the front pages. Buying papers and magazines printed in French to take home. Taking photos of smoking buildings on posters in the shops. Stepping in to Notre Dame at noon. Seeing the signs in French: Nous nous souvenons et nous prions! Messes pour les victimes des attentats et pour la paix! Reading the signs in English: Special services in memory of 9/11/2001 – we pray for peace. Stopping at the banks of candles flickering in the shadows. Seeing it propped behind the warm glow against the cold stone blocks of the cathedral walls. Recognizing the red, white, blue. Photographing the miniature American flag stapled to a slim stick. Praying for peace.

September 11, 2013: Imagining what it looked like to be there, what it smelled like, sounded like, felt like. Feeling fear, anger, confusion, and profound sadness. Displaying miniature American flags stapled to a stick in flowerpots on my porch. Holding family close. Searching for a map and directions—in any language. Praying for peace.

 ###

Searching for directions since 9/11  was previously published in Alchemy, and reprinted here with permission.

About Andrea Doray

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberAndrea Doray is an author who serves on the board of directors for the international organization Writing for Peace. Learn more about her work here.

 

 

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100, by Martín Espada

By Martín Espada

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
            for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees
            Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant,
            who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza.
Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza.Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
Ecuador, México, República Dominicana,
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
where the gas burned blue on every stove
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.
 
Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
who worked that morning because another dishwasher
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

After the thunder wilder than thunder,
after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have.

“Alabanza” was first published in *The Nation Books* anthology, Poets Against the War. “Alabanza” was contributed by Martín Espada in honor of the tenth anniversary of Poets Against the War and the movement’s founder, Sam Hamill, and is reprinted today in memory of the many tragedies of 9/11.

About Martín Espada

Martin Espada, Writing for Peace Daily PAW Post Guest PoetCalled “the Latino poet of his generation,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems, The Trouble Ball (Norton, 2011), is the recipient of the Milt Kessler Award, a Massachusetts Book Award and an International Latino Book Award. The Republic of Poetry, a collection published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A previous book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other books of poems include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (Norton, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (Norton, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990).  He has received such recognition as the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  His work has been widely translated; collections of poems have been published in Spain, Puerto Rico and Chile. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (South End Press, 1998), has been banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona. A graduate of Northeastern University Law School and a former tenant lawyer, Espada is currently a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Learn more about Martín Espada’s work here.

 

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Transforming the World through Social Media, by Carmel Mawle

Uniting for Peace

 Transforming the World through Social Media

By Carmel Mawle

If, like us, you wondered how Facebook’s decision to go public would affect your accounts. Now we know. It’s meant more ads, more data mining, more selling of our private information to governments and corporations, but for those of us who are trying to transform the world through small grass roots efforts, the change has shaken us to the core.

Before the summer of 2012, when Facebook went public, Writing for Peace reached up to 110,000 readers per week. Now, we reach close to 6000.

Two years ago we posted our first Young Writers Contest on Facebook, and were overjoyed to receive entries from all over the U.S. This year, we heard from young writers in 21 different countries. Will this growth continue? I don’t yet know how these new restrictions will translate to practical outreach, but I’m worried.

The bottom line is this: Facebook wants us to pay a minimum of $30 per post in order to “reach an estimated 3,600 – 6,600” people. If we want to splurge, we can choose to reach “an estimated 74,000 – 110,000 out of [our] potential audience of 140,000 people” by paying $600 per post. Facebook is charging for access to the relationships we cultivated over the course of two years through a service they presented as being without cost.

Even if we had the money, I would argue against it on principle. Not a single member of Writing for Peace is paid a dime. Despite the generous donations of friends, family, and the Colgate University Research Council, the website, awards and certificates, postage, and, yes, the full-color printed DoveTales journals are over 90% self-funded. It’s a stretch, but if we were flush, we would want those funds to go toward the young writers, scholarships, workshops, journals, and more journals.

Not Facebook.

Like delicate strands braided into an indestructible rope, we are a powerful force when united. Social media has been lauded as a tool for creative connections and revolutions. This communication tool made possible the Arab Spring and Occupy Movements, and allows the dissemination of information from outside the corporate media – a truth that has governments shaking in their jackboots. The drive to monetize our relationships is reflective of a corporate mentality directly opposed to grassroots efforts like Writing for Peace.

If you’ve read this far, you are already committed to changing the world – and probably wondering what you can do to help. Believe it or not, you can make the greatest impact not by sending money (though we wouldn’t object), but by spending a few minutes every day on behalf of those causes you are committed to. Take the time to check our Facebook page frequently. We will make it worth your while with loads of inspiration and information. Invite your friends to like our page and please subscribe to our blog. If you appreciate a post, hit the like button. Leave a comment. Share our posts on your page. And while you’re at it, mention our Young Writers Contest to your kids’ teachers and email us for free bookmarks to share. These small things make a HUGE difference in our outreach, and we are grateful to each of you who already make a consistent effort on our behalf.

This is a collaboration, and you are essential to this experiment. As the world teeters on the brink of another war, help us spread a culture of peace.

Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace and serves as President of the Board of Directors.Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace, and serves as president of the Board of Directors. Carmel is a member of the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Her work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, SPACES Lit Mag, Mountain Scribe Anthology, and upcoming in KNOT Magazine.

 Writing for Peace

Writing for Peace News

Take Action on Syria

Write your Representatives: Prevent an Attack on Syria Now

Hit the Streets: Americans Don’t Want A War in Syria—And They’re Working Hard to Prevent One, by Kevin Zeese and Writing for Peace Adviser Margaret Flowers

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Who Will Stand With The Innocents? by Sam Hamill

Who Will Stand With The Innocents?

By Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdvisorFifty years ago, I found myself in the war-ravaged former nation of Okinawa, where some of the fiercest battles of the Pacific War had taken place, and where I began to learn of the true atrocities of the atomic bombing of Japan. I also heard there from fellow Marines first-hand accounts of the race wars in my own country, about lynchings, about Bull Conner’s dogs set on nonviolent civil rights marchers, stories I had known only from brief news accounts. I learned about how the impoverished people of Vietnam had driven out the imperialist French and now faced a growing American presence as they struggled toward their own democratic self-rule. President Eisenhower had spoken of our need “to protect our investments in tin and tungsten.”

I read Gandhi. I read Zen. I read “War is a Racket” by the Marine Corps general, Smedley Butler, who led the overthrowing of several governments himself. I read Albert Camus’s remarkable essay, “Neither Victims nor Executioners,” and I became a devout anti-war campaigner, much to the chagrin of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Fifty years have passed, each with its wars, its body counts, its “collateral damage” that strips people of names and faces and bloody bodies, leaving only numbers, numbers deemed “necessary” by the political class that overthrew democratic governments from Iran to South and Central America, always for the benefit of corporate giants-Standard Oil, the United Fruit Company.

In the past twenty years, following Bush Senior’s bombing of Iraq, Clinton bombed Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan; George W. Bush, bombed Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia; Barack Obama has bombed Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. And now the drum-beating to wage war in Syria grows ever louder. The President says we have no definable objective and yet bombs are necessary once again. And once again, as I have every year for half a century, I call out the corporate rulers for their murders and lies because without justifying mass murder and justifying torture and lies, war would be impossible to wage. I ask today, as I did ten years ago, “Who will speak for the conscience of our country?” Who will stand with the innocents we have damned?

True Peace  

Half broken on that smoky night,
hunched over sake in a serviceman’s dive
somewhere in Naha, Okinawa,
nearly fifty years ago,

I read of the Saigon Buddhist monks
who stopped the traffic on a downtown
thoroughfare
so their master, Thich Quang Dúc, could take up
the lotus posture in the middle of the street.
And they baptized him there with gas
and kerosene, and he struck a match
and burst into flame.

That was June, nineteen-sixty-three,
and I was twenty, a U.S. Marine.

The master did not move, did not squirm,
he did not scream
in pain as his body was consumed.

Neither child nor yet a man,
I wondered to my Okinawan friend,
what can it possibly mean
to make such a sacrifice, to give one’s life
with such horror, but with dignity and conviction.
How can any man endure such pain
and never cry and never blink.

And my friend said simply, “Thich Quang Dúc
had achieved true peace.”

And I knew that night true peace
for me would never come.
Not for me, Nirvana. This suffering world
is mine, mine to suffer in its grief.

Half a century later, I think
of Bô Tát Thich Quang Dúc,
revered as a bodhisattva now–his lifetime
building temples, teaching peace,
and of his death and the statement that it made.

Like Shelley’s, his heart refused to burn,
even when they burned his ashes once again
in the crematorium–his generous heart
turned magically to stone.

What is true peace, I cannot know.
A hundred wars have come and gone
as I’ve grown old. I bear their burdens in my bones.
Mine’s the heart that burns
today, mine the thirst, the hunger in the soul.

Old master, old teacher,
what is it that I’ve learned?

From Border Songs (Word Palace Press, 2012)

Used by permission.

 About Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdvisorSam Hamill is the author of more than forty books, including fifteen volumes of original poetry (most recently Measured by Stone and Almost Paradise: New & Selected Poems & Translations); four collections of literary essays, including A Poet’s Work and Avocations: On Poetry & Poets; and some of the most distinguished translations of ancient Chinese and Japanese classics of the last half-century. He co-founded, and for thirty-two years was editor at, Copper Canyon Press. He taught in prisons for fourteen years and has worked extensively with battered women and children. An outspoken political pacifist, in 2003, declining an invitation to the White House, he founded Poets Against War, compiling the largest single-theme poetry anthology in history, 30,000 poems by 26,000 poets. Learn more about Sam Hamill here.

Take Action

Write your Representatives: Prevent an Attack on Syria Now

Hit the Streets: Americans Don’t Want A War in Syria—And They’re Working Hard to Prevent One, by Kevin Zeese and Writing for Peace Adviser Margaret Flowers

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Congratulations To Our New Young Advisers

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce two remarkable young peace activists, the founding members of our new panel of Young Advisers. Both have shown an extraordinary commitment to peace. Check their pages and watch our blog for their inspirational posts.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNatan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Natan held fast to his convictions, despite being jailed ten times.

Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity.

Writing for Peace is accepting nominations of young activists, writers, and artists, for our new panel of Young Advisers. Please send nominations by email, along with the reasons for your nomination, and contact information to editor@writingforpeace.org, subject heading: Young Adviser Nominations.

2014 Young Writers Contest

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

 DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales Call for Submissions

Writing for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013Help us reach out to schools and young writers by purchasing a copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to gift to your local high school or junior high. Let us know you are gifting your copy, and we’ll include extra bookmarks (beautifully designed by artist-in-residence, PdLietz). Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

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