Category Archives: Activism

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.

2016 Youth Summit Now Public

cropped-17WFP_Listen-To-Me-

“Listen to Me” created by Paula Dawn Lietz, artist-in-residence

The last weekend of April, Writing for Peace hosted our first annual Youth Summit to provide a safe place for young writers, artists, and activists (ages 18-30) to discuss aspects of peace, artistic expression, and activism, as well as the chance to engage with keynote speakers and develop their craft through educational opportunities.

During the event, work and conversation is not shared publicly, allowing for uninhibited self-expression. Participants are offered the opportunity to remove work and comments before the summit is shared publicly.

2016 Writing for Peace Inaugural Online Youth Summit

Participants shared and discussed their own work. For those interested, we offered a workshop on Peace Journalism, taught by Dr. Elissa Tivona, and given the opportunity to accept assignments and join the ranks of our Peace Journalists in our developing Writing for Peace Journalism Program. They also watched and discussed Dr. Erica Chenoweth’s TED Talk on Nonviolent Resistance. You’ll find links to these and the key note speeches on the site. We welcome you to peruse the site’s content and discussion. Comments have been disabled there, but can be directed to Writing for Peace on this page, or through our contact page. Comments are moderated.

Topic:
“What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”

Keynote Speakers include:

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr 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. After studying Human Ecology at Stanford University, Lyla founded Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration and honoring of children and young adults worldwide.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNathan 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.” Nathan held fast to his convictions, despite being sentenced 10 times, to a total of 178 days in jail. Nathan’s struggle was first of all a struggle for the freedom of conscience, but it was also a struggle for peace between the Jews and the Arabs in Israel.

Amal KassirAmal Kassir is a 20 year old Syrian‐American spoken word artist. Born and raised most her life in Denver, CO, she came from a dinner table of tabouleh and meat loaf, Arab father and American mother, best meals of both worlds. She runs a project called More than Metaphors that focuses on the education initiative for displaced Syrian children, but uses the grass roots to bring communities together for all conversations.

Damilola

D.M. Aderibigbe was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He graduated with a BA in History and Strategic Studies from University of Lagos in 2014. His chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. He is the recipient of 2015 and 2016 fellowships and honours from Oristaglio Family Foundation, Entrekin Foundation, Dickinson House, Callaloo and Boston University where he is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing.

Writing for Peace is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating empathy through education and creative writing in order to develop a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world. Our goal is to inspire and guide young writers (and other artists) to refine their craft and consider the many ways their writing focus can bring us closer to nonviolent conflict resolution, a society that values human rights, as well as environmental and economic sustainability.

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

D.M. Aderibigbe Joins Advisory Panel

Damilola 1Writing for Peace welcomes D.M. Aderibigbe to our panel of young advisers and Youth Summit keynote speakers. Aderibigbe was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He graduated with a BA in History and Strategic Studies from University of Lagos in 2014. His chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series (purchase information below). He is the recipient of 2015 and 2016 fellowships and honours from Oristaglio Family Foundation, Entrekin Foundation, Dickinson House, Callaloo and Boston University where he is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing. 

Says Aderibigbe:

“A few months ago, several children were burnt to death in my native country (of course this happens everyday now.) I posted this to my Facebook, with the caption ‘the real face of the world.’ One of my poet-friends commented and said, ‘Dami, this post won’t change the mind of the world, but your writing can. Keep writing those necessary poems you have been churning out.’ It dawned on me that day, that all along I have been writing for peace.”

Two Poems by D.M. Aderibigbe:

NEW HELL

Fire burnt on a cold morning:
he screamed “E mi o mo nkankan,
I’m innocent” until his voice was

swallowed by the ravenous fire.
The woman arrived at the scene
to see her love had become ashes.
She poured tears before a broken
statue of Oshun.
I and my two siblings stood, staring —

our skins, veiled by Akure’s harmattan.
Police sirens were a muezzin’s voice
that slashed through the morning for solat;

the vigilantes, who made the fire
that melted the life of their thief
without proof he was thief,

dispersed into our bewilderment.
Guns and truncheons lay
on the road, casualties in a war —
torn country.
Police led the new widow to a van.
I and my two siblings stood, staring.

The fire died.
 

 

ELEGY FOR MY MOTHERS

Let’s not pretend the sky
is always plaited with beauty,
even the gods are not too perfect.
On my grandmother’s skin,
the heaven doesn’t stop
crying for 13 years– God’s
eyes are patched with red.
A schoolboy’s body–
her only son– empty
like a soda can
found at the doorway
of his mother’s store.
All the women in his life gather
around what the police’s anger
has left of him: each calling
his name, as though death
is a disease noise could cure.
Each calls his name,
their breasts flapping like clothes
on a line driven by wind. Lord,
is this what it takes to be a woman?

 

D.M. Aderibigbe’s poems appear in numerous journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Ninth Letter, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE, Stand and elsewhere and featured on Verse Daily. Spillway recently nominated his poem for a 2017 Puschcart prize. His first manuscript is a 2015 and 2016 finalist for The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He’s also an essayist, with essays in Blueshift Journal, B O D Y and Rain Taxi. He knows God loves you.

To purchase his chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father, send $10 through PayPal to dammyg1989@gmail.com. Also, send your mailing address to the same email and you’ll receive your copy within a week.

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Writing for Peace News

Call for Participants: Online Youth Summit

Join young artists and writers, ages 18-30, in conversation about the matters you care about in this online Youth Summit.

Summit Dates: April 29th, 30th and May 1st

Submission Deadline: April 25th

Topic:
“What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”

Fees: There is no fee for participation in this summit, with thanks to a generous grant from Longwood University in Virginia, United States of America.

Participation:  In order to provide a safe environment for participants to express themselves, this event is closed to the public. Participants are invited guests, ages 18-30, and will be given the password for admittance to the Summit following the acceptance of their submissions.

Description: In this online summit, 100 invited participants from schools and colleges in the US, Mexico (through Colectiva Poéticas), and Canada will have the opportunity to submit and present their creative work on the following theme: “What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”.

Submissions will be accepted in the following areas: Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, and Dance. For more information and to submit your work, go to Youth Summit.

2016 DoveTales “Family and Cultural Identity” Edition

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceOur fourth edition of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts will be released on May 1st! Links will go up soon, and if you are in the Fort Collins area we hope you will join us for our Book Release Celebration Reading! Check out the details and RSVP at Book Launch Celebration.

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

When the bell tolls for coal, By Vicki Lindner

VickiLindnerHorizontal1000-745x373When the bell tolls for coal: Pull yourself up by your WHAT?

By Vicki Lindner

(Previously published in Wyofile.com, Wyoming’s truth-telling online newspaper, representing free journalism in a conservative state. Reprinted by permission.)

(Opinion) — I moved from New York to Laramie in 1988, when cheap foreign oil made drilling for domestic reserves unprofitable. Unlike unemployed roughnecks, who’d walked away from vehicles and homes, I came for a job — teaching creative writing at the University of Wyoming. The salary ($28.2K) wasn’t so hot (my New York friends groaned), but it included benefits, and thanks to severance fees paid by the minerals industry, I wouldn’t have to “give the governor” a dime.

Like most newcomers with romantic notions, I was looking for change more than high pay. I soon rented a funky cabin on the Big Laramie River, 30 miles from town, and fantasized that a single rugged individualist like me would soon be two-stepping with cowboys down at the bar.

But strangers were suspicious characters in Woods Landing. A university administrator, an  outsider, complained about his high electric bill, a faux pas, as the rural power company was run by his next-door neighbor. My landlord, an artist, had shared the green shack with her lover — another gal. Then she rented it to a woman who left her miserable pets to fend for themselves while she flagged for highway construction crews in other counties. What, locals wondered, would this new citified single lady, also a UW prof, get up to in there? For almost four years, they kept their distance and waited to find out.

Isolated on the Big Laramie, I pondered the folksy signs and sayings that seemed to offer prescriptions for my Wyoming life: “If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It,” was a motto never heard in New York, an economic “energy center,” where whatever didn’t change demanded rethinking. Were the stickers on pickups, “Welcome to Wyoming: We Don’t Give a Damn How You Do It Back Home,” aimed at me? And what about, “Stop Whining,” “If You Don’t Like it Here, Leave,” and “Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps”? (Were those the wee loops on the tops of my used gold parade boots?) Most unnerving was the expression I heard when natives didn’t know I was listening: “Our Way of Life.” Was my new state an exclusive country club, open only to insiders?

While on one hand the maxims advocated self-reliance and proud survival on high desert plains, on the other, they concealed warnings for presumptuous newcomers: We own this place. Don’t try to change it. Cowboy up or ride out on the horse you rode in on. What was the difference, I wondered, between Our way of life in a boom-and-bust state, where the population had sunk to 458,400, and Xenophobia — defined asan unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers, or that which is foreign or strange.”

Meanwhile, my students feared they’d betray their birthright if they abandoned small, remote towns for overcrowded cities in other states, or even Jackson. I soon heard that only the Wyoming-born could win major state offices. In 2014 Gov. Matt Mead announced that three new additions to his staff were men with “Wyoming roots.” And last May, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services introduced a new program, “Wyoming Grown,” designed to bring natives home by clueing them into job opportunities. Hayley McKee, the information officer, said that in the last eight months 26 professionals have been placed.

Yet, as the 21st century got underway, “Our Way of Life” took a sucker punch. The world finally acknowledged that climate change was real, and billions of tons of CO2 spewing from coal-fired power plants played the largest role in higher temperatures, storms, tornadoes, floods, impending food shortages and species’ extinction, not to mention lung and heart conditions. Thanks to new EPA regulations inspired by the June 2014 Clean Air and Climate Change Act, followed by the Paris Agreement on climate change, U.S markets were no longer buying the 400 million tons of publically-owned and federally-regulated Powder River coal that 15 mines had railroaded out every year. And largely dependent on fossil fuel fees, 11 percent of state revenues went down the drain. As 2015 ended, coal stocks continued their dive, the industry reeled from debt, two companies went bankrupt, U.S. coal production fell to its lowest level since the 1980s, and coal mine workers  applied for unemployment insurance. This past Christmas, New York Times reporter James B. Stewart wryly joked that we could extend coal’s future by putting more lumps of it in bad children’s stockings. Then, on Friday Jan. 15, the Obama administration landed  a knock-out blow by announcing a “pause” in approving new coal leases. If the National Mining Association had any doubts, it now knew that the Feds intended to keep coal in the ground.

Coal’s dim future was already a sensitive issue in 2012, when Tom Buchanan, then president of the University of Wyoming, was pressured by coal-county legislators and the Wyoming Mining Association to raze Chris Drury’s $45,000 campus installation, “Carbon Sink” — a spiraling circle of beetle kill lumber that morphed into coal. Yet the sculpture only symbolized what everyone knew: that CO2 emissions were largely responsible for tepid winters that allowed lodgepole predators to thrive. By 2015, the warmest year yet, Gov. Mead, the university’s School of Energy Resources, and legislators beat their breasts like ancient Egyptian mourners after the Pharaoh’s death, and asked what offerings coal would need to embark on its afterlife.  

You’ve heard the proposals: What about turning the mineral into a gas that makes plastics, pharmaceuticals, paints, and food sweeteners? (Those gasification plants are costly to build and also eject CO2). Could Wyoming cash in on iffy CO2 sequestration technologies that neutralize emissions in different kinds of reservoirs, or better yet, enhance oil recovery? How about shipping Powder River coal to Asia? (The states with ocean ports said no, and, it turned out, Asian markets could access closer, cheaper suppliers as they, too, began phasing out coal.) Meanwhile, Wyoming’s renewable energy sources, wind and sun, didn’t engage imaginations preoccupied with schemes for coal’s second coming.   

“Thank God for the rainy day fund,” Wyomingites sighed, meaning the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, flush with $1.8 billion. But states can’t retire and live off their savings, like I did. And how long will Wyoming’s other non-renewable fossil fuels — oil and plentiful natural gas — hold out (centuries?) before they, too, go the way of coal, coal methane gas, and the dinosaurs that left their bones in Como Bluffs?   

The governor suggested diversifying the economy. (Not a new idea.) True, Wyoming is one of three states (with Texas and West Virginia) where the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 10 highest employment quotients are energy related. Other industries, Mead affirmed, would make state coffers less susceptible to energy downturns. He focused on clean, high-paying technology companies, (Colorado has 495 in Denver alone), and proudly announced that Microsoft had expanded its Wyoming operation by 25 jobs.  (A positive move, but to put it in perspective, the new Google campus in Boulder, Colorado, will add 1,500 positions to the 300 the company already had.)

Diversification is a soul-stirring word, but what does it call for? Not just a few companies, expanding high speed wireless broadband, but a wider business base, including small manufacturers. They might choose Wyoming over China and Vietnam when they got a load of the Cowboy State’s lack of corporate and income taxes, less stringent regulations, and low union participation, as well as federal tax incentives for staying and producing in-country. (New Wyoming businesses do pay a franchise tax.) But one crucial factor is missing: Asia’s abundant labor force. You can’t attract a factory that makes, say, mattresses, or diesel-hybrid electric tractors, or even a meat packing plant without  potential workers.

A viable workforce demands an increased population. (Wyoming is the least populous state in the union.) And where in Sam Hill will the state get that? The answer, my friend, is blowing in a gale-force wind: The answer is people from other countries — yes, Immigrants, including refugees, with other religions, languages, traditions, and skin colors, who are unlikely to share “our way of life.”

These people, who may have suffered human rights abuses, war, economic and political oppression, don’t think that “freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”  As I write, the foreign-born that the state needs to transform its economy are walking through 31-mile tunnels under the English Channel, and risking their lives to cross turbulent seas in inflatable rafts. They’d love to have a job, a home, and a school for their kids in a peaceful place with beautiful scenery. And, I bet, they’d be happy to pay a state income tax, like the one Tax Reform 2000 suggested. (Sixteen years ago the group of legislators and economists estimated that a small, flat-rate tax would raise $153,633,405, only about $5 million less than the 2016 budget shortfall. And, they pointed out, every state on Wyoming’s borders, all red but one, has an income tax, except South Dakota.)

Other governors realize that paying taxes is one of the ways that immigrants expand local economies. Michigan’s Rick Snyder called for a new program to attract and welcome the foreign-born, citing statistics that said newcomers were more than three times as likely as non-immigrants to start a new business. (They also filed more international patents.) Cities, too, have adopted pro-immigrant initiatives. Despite Congress’s discouraging rhetoric, Washington, Atlanta, Nashville and Memphis, Charlotte, Louisville, Tucson, and Dayton have pledged to create immigrant-friendly climates because they recognize that new arrivals who attract businesses also start them, spend gobs of money, and pay sales, income, and property taxes.

Actually, immigrants already reside in Wyoming. The American Immigration Council’s statistics say that in 2013 one in 10 Wyomingites was Hispanic or Asian. The foreign-born made up 3.5 percent of the population, or 20,081. (All but 5,000 were “authorized.”) Comprising 4.1 percent of the workforce, they paid $105.9 million in federal taxes and $38.5 million in state taxes (property and sales). Like immigrants elsewhere, many are better educated than natives. As a Dubois summer resident, who buys groceries in Jackson, I can vouch that the thriving tourist town’s restaurants, motels, and grocery stores depend on Hispanic and Eastern European workers. (The former owner of the Italian bistro, The Yellowstone Garage, once told me that Hispanics had saved the restaurant and hotel industries, and are the only restaurant employees who still have a work ethic.)

This brings me to Syrians — for Wyoming, largely a symbolic issue, as the U.S. hopes to settle the 10,000 in cities where Syrian communities already exist. Instead of joining 27 Republican governors who rejected the war-ravaged victims of Assad and ISIL, Gov. Mead, who ran into political flack when he sensibly proposed a refugee center, should have begged for 5,000. With federal subsidies, nonprofit grants, a committee to create acceptance strategies, and a chunk of that bulging rainy day fund, the state could have stimulated its own economy by building the strangers housing in Casper, where Monster.com now lists 691 positions, mostly for drivers and sales associates. Like your grandfather and mine, the foreign-born who worked the Butte copper mines, and my cab driving Ethiopian friend in Denver, immigrants know you gotta start somewhere.

Diversity, however, describes not just changes in population, or a good business mix, but personnel in individual organizations. A study from The Center for Talent Innovation shows that companies benefit from hiring diverse employees, instead of safe “cultural fits,” like their friends, who root for the same team, look and act like the boss, and share his or her taste in movies and books. Research shows that homogeneity breeds complacency; and the mere presence of someone from a different social background improved workplace performance and accuracy. The strongest teams employ different ages, races, and genders, as well as members with “acquired” diversity, like military experience, foreign language skills, and time spent abroad.  Leaders who are receptive to unexpected or challenging questions, and support new ideas, increase their companies’ profits and capture new markets.

Which brings me back to the Manhattan emigrant I was long ago. Although I made no waves in rural Woods Landing, I shook up the university’s English department. I said what I thought in faculty meetings (a cultural no-no), challenged students to excel in harder courses, and designed a visiting writer program that hired authors from many states, including Wyoming, who also taught community members. As my own contribution might indicate, the diversity that energizes a single workplace, could energize an unsustainable fossil fuel-based economy.  

So how to fix what’s broke? Sure, create a Refugee Center to vet Muslim immigrants and dream up new lives for coal, but grow the workforce with ambitious newcomers who will have a profound personal stake in enjoying and enhancing their American home.

But what will keep the new residents from moving to Oregon? Before you roll out the welcome wagons, stop saying, “Our Way of Life,” and tear off that xenophobic bumper sticker, “We Don’t Give a Damn How You Do it Back Home.”

About Writing for Peace Adviser Vicki Lindner

vicki Lindner (3)Vicki Lindner is an Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Wyoming, and an instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, where she serves on the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. She is the author of a novel, co-author of Unbalanced Accounts: How Women can Overcome their Fear of Money, and many essays, short stories, magazine and newspaper articles. Learn more about Vicki Lindner and her work here.

— Essays are the signed perspective of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WyoFile’s staff, board of directors or its supporters. WyoFile welcomes guest columns and op-ed pieces from all points of view. If you’d like to write a guest column for WyoFile, please contact WyoFile editor-in-chief Dustin Bleizeffer at dustin@wyofile.com.

WyoFile is a nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.

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Check Out Our 2016 Young Writers Contest!

Writing for Peace dreamerWriting 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. We’ve extended the submission deadline to April 15, 2016 at midnight (Mountain Time). There is no fee for participation.

First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry categories. Announcements will be made on May 1st on the Writing for Peace Blog.

  • First place winners will receive $50. Second  place winners will receive $25. Third place winners will receive $10.
  • Winners work, photo, bio, and a follow-up interview will be published in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts. Winners will receive one hard copy of the book.
  • Finalists may be eligible for online publication in our Writing for Peace blog.
  • Winners and finalists may receive invitations to participate in other Writing for Peace events, such as our Annual Youth Summit, readings, and possible mentoring opportunities.

Check out our full guidelines here.

Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“The conflict between democracy and state repression, often claimed as necessary to protect our safety and security, has moved the United States consistently toward a greater national security state that has become inconsistent with people’s privacy and freedom; as well as their ability to exercise First Amendment protected political activities. Where are we in this balance? How do we change it?”  Newsletter: End The Security State

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

How Humanity Fell in Love with Itself Once Again, By Lyla June Johnston

Nordic_Sami_people_Lavvu_1900-1920

The Story of How Humanity Fell in Love with Itself Once Again

By Lyla June Johnston

I spend a lot of time honoring and calling upon my Native American ancestors. I am keenly aware that my father’s people hold a venerable medicine as well. He has ancestry from the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe.

I have been called a half breed. I have been called a mutt. Impure. I have been told my mixed blood is my bane. That I’m cursed to have an Indian for a mother and a cowboy for a father.

But one day, as I sat in the ceremonial house of my mother’s people, a wondrous revelation landed delicately inside of my soul. It sang within me a song I can still hear today. This song was woven from the voices of my European grandmothers and grandfathers. Their songs were made of love.

They sang to me of their life before the witch trials and before the crusades. They spoke to me of a time before serfdoms and before Roman tithes. They spoke to me of a time before the plague; before the Medici; before the guillotine; a time before their people were extinguished or enslaved by dark forces. They spoke to me of a time before the English language existed. A time most of us have forgotten.

These grandmothers and grandfathers set the ancient medicine of Welsh blue stone upon my aching heart. Their chants danced like the flickering light of Tuscan cave-fires. Their joyous laughter echoed on and on like Baltic waves against Scandinavian shores. They blew worlds through my mind like windswept snow over Alpine mountain crests. They showed to me the vast and beautiful world of Indigenous Europe. This precious world can scarcely be found in any literature, but lives quietly within us like a dream we can’t quite remember.

As all this was happening, I peered into the flames of our Diné hoghan fireplace. These Ancient Europe voices whispered to my heart to help me understand. “See, our songs are not so different from your Diné songs,” they seemed to say with a smile.

In this moment, the moment I first acknowledged and connected with my beautiful European ancestors, I could do nothing but cry. It was one of those messy, snotty, shuddering cries, where my face flowed over with tears of joy and sorrow. It was the cry of a woman who met her grandmother for the first time. I always wondered where she was. What she looked like. What her voice sounded like. Who she was. And now, for the first time, I could feel her delicate hands run through my hair as she told me she loved me. I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed.

Intermixed in there were also tears of regret. My whole life I was taught to hide my European “side.” All I knew was that my father came from Dallas and that was all I needed to know. These pale-skinned mothers and fathers were to be forgotten, I was taught. They carried violence in their blood and avarice in their smile, I was taught. They were rubbish, I was taught. There was no need to ask questions about them or think about them, I was taught. Whenever I wrote down my race on official forms, I would only write “Native American,” as I was taught.

But then, as thousands of European ancestors swirled around me and reassured my fearful heart, I wished I had honored them sooner. I wished I hadn’t disowned them. I wished I knew how beautiful they were. I wished I could have seen through the thin wall of time that dominates our understanding of Europe. I wish I could have realized the days when Indigenous Europeans were deeply connected to the earth and to kinship. In my mind I told them I was so, so sorry for forsaking them. But, of course, they did not care. They only held me tighter and assured me they would be with me to the end.

The sweetness of this precious experience changed me forever. I have come to believe that if we do not wholly love our ancestors, then we do not truly know who they are. For instance, I get very offended when people call Native Americans “good-for-nothing drunks.” Because by saying this, people don’t take into account the centuries of attempted genocide, rape and drugging of Native American people. They don’t see the beauty of who we were before the onslaught. And now, I am offended when people call European descendants “privileged good-for-nothing pilgrims.” Because by saying this, people do not take into account the thousands of years that European peoples were raped, tortured and enslaved. They do not understand the beauty of who we were before the onslaught. They do not understand that even though we have free will and the ability to choose how we live our life, it is very hard to overcome inter-generational trauma. What happens in our formative years and what our parents teach us at that time can be very hard to reverse.

They estimate that 8-9 million European women were burned alive, drowned alive, dismembered alive, beaten, raped and otherwise tortured as so-called, “witches.” It is obvious to me now that these women were not witches, but were the Medicine People of Old Europe. They were the women who understood the herbal medicines, the ones who prayed with stones, the ones who passed on sacred chants, the ones who whispered to me that night in the hoghan. This all-out warfare on Indigenous European women, not only harmed them, but had a profound effect on the men who loved them. Their husbands, sons and brothers. Nothing makes a man go mad like watching the women of his family get burned alive. If the men respond to this hatred with hatred, the hatred is passed on. And who can blame them? While peace and love is the correct response to hatred, it is not the easy response by any means.

The Indigenous Cultures of Europe also sustained forced assimilation by the Roman Empire and other hegemonic forces. In fact, it was only a few decades ago that any Welsh child caught speaking Welsh in school would have a block of wood tied to their neck. The words “WN” were there-inscribed, standing for “welsh not.” This kind of public humiliation will sound very familiar to any Native Americans reading this who attended U.S. Government boarding schools.

Moreover, our indigenous European ancestors faced horrific epidemics of biblical proportions. In the 1300s, two-thirds of Indigenous Europeans were wiped from the face of the earth. The Black Death, or Bubonic Plague, ravaged entire villages with massive lymph sores that filled with puss until they burst open. Sound familiar?

The parallels between the genocide of Indigenous Europeans and Native Americans are astounding. It boggles my mind that more people don’t see how we are the same people, who have undergone the same spiritual assault. The only difference between the Red Story and the White Story is we are in different stages of the process of spiritual warfare. Native Americans are only recently becoming something they are not. They are only recently starting to succumb to the temptations of drugs, alcohol, gambling, self-destruction and the destruction of others. Just as some Native American people have been contorted and twisted by so many centuries of abuse, so too were those survivors of the European genocide. Both are completely forgivable in my eyes.

Now I see I have a double-duty. I must not only honor and revitalize my Diné culture, but also that of my European ancestors. This ancient Indigenous European culture is just as beautiful as Native American culture and was just as tragically murdered and hidden from history books.

And so, some years later, armed with this new understanding, I traveled to Europe. I scaled a beautiful mountain in Switzerland to see if I might hear hints of ceremonial songs in the wind. I stepped upon the earth guided by those grandmother and grandfather whispers. I plucked a strand of hair from my scalp and placed the offering upon the earth, still wet from morning dew. I ambled through the forests enchanted by the new sights and smells. And I did see glimmers of visions of the villages of yesteryear. And they were full of Earth People living out harmonious community. And, they had beautiful music.

As the sun went down, I fell back on the grass and looked up to the sky. At the time, I was going through a very painful separation from a person I loved. To my surprise, it felt as if the earth was pulling all the sorrow I was carrying down into her core where she could transform it into beauty. The sky was speaking to me about how I didn’t need to worry, that I would be happy again one day. The earth and the sky healed me that day from the great weight I had carried for months. It was a special reunion with the mountains of my foremothers.

My mountain experiment yielded astounding results: the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe is still alive and breathing and waiting for her children to come home! She is waiting for us to ask her for songs so that we may sing to her once again. She is waiting for us to scratch passed the surface of time, into the B.C. period when our languages were thriving and our dancing feet kissed the face of the earth. She is waiting. She is waiting for us to remember who we are. If you hold this descent, or any forgotten descent for that matter, I am asking you to join me in this prayer to remember who we are. I have a feeling this prayer will heal the whole world.

In 2009, archaeologists came across a female effigy believed to be the Goddess of the Earth buried inside of German soil. The radiocarbon dating tests came back. They indicate that this clay deity was molded by European hands 40,000 years ago. 40,000 years ago. This is the time she beckons us to. This is the world she hopes we will remember: where man and woman alike, held the soil in their hands and saw the value and sanctity of women and of the Mother Earth. This is the world that still flows through our veins, however deafened we have become to it. With prayer we can learn to hear it once again.

I compare this earth-based, Indigenous European culture to the witch-burning psychosis of the first and second millennia. I cannot help but ask myself, when and how did this egalitarian, earth-loving, woman-honoring culture, become the colonial, genocidal conquerors that washed upon American shores? Could it be that our beloved Indigenous European ancestors were raped and tortured for so many thousands of years that they forgot who they were? Could it be they lived in a pressure cooker of oppression for so long that conquer-or-be-conquered is all they knew? Yes, I believe so.

Our task is to shake the amnesia. To not be ashamed of our European-ness, but to reclaim our beautiful grandmothers, to reclaim our venerable grandfathers, to reclaim our lost languages, our lost ceremonies, our lost homelands and become one with the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe once again. The European diaspora is spread all throughout the world, searching the planet for something that lives inside. I promise you will hear it when you climb the mountains of Switzerland! Of Scotland! Of Tuscany! Of Hungary! Of Portugal! Of the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe! Just because bad things happened upon her bosom does not mean she is bad.

Our task is to honor our ancestors, even those who caved beneath the weight of systematic destruction and became conquerors themselves. Our task is to remember that we are those beautiful Earth People. The ones whose love and prayers were so strong that they could carry 25-ton blue stone monoliths for miles and miles and build the sacred place of prayer known as Stonehenge. That is who we are. When we remember this, the healing of our lineages comes full circle. When we remember this, we will no longer need to borrow spiritual practices from other cultures (although that can be very helpful when there is nothing else to hold onto.) When we remember this, we will remember that the fates of all beings are intertwined with our own. When I remembered this, I found whole-ness in my self—no longer a half-breed, but a daughter of Two Great Lineages, Two Great Rivers that ran together to make one precious child.

This is the story of how I became whole. Some days, it feels like both fire and water live within me. They dance and swirl around one another. In the morning when I wake up, each bows to the other, honoring themselves as equals, as beautiful. When I go to sleep at night they wish each other good dreams. They teach me how it could have been when Columbus first stepped upon Taino shores: a meeting of two long lost brothers, embracing each other and celebrating their unique cultures. They teach me how things can be for our children in the future.

Because that’s what matters most, doesn’t it?

Not how the story goes… but how it ends.

We each hold a pen. Now, let us co-author a story of how humanity fell in love with itself and its Mother Earth once again. Shall we?

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser Lyla June Johnston

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a poet, musician, anthropologist and human being, from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for peace unfolds both outside of herself through community organizing and within herself through continual prayers to forgive and love a wounded world. Learn more about Lyla and her work here.

(c) Copyright 2016. Lyla Johnston. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here with permission by the author.

Photo courtesy of Wikicommons: Sami Indigenous Peoples of Norway, circa 1900. They are standing beside their “lavvu” which look strikingly similar to the tipis of Plains Indigenous Peoples of North America.

 

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2016 Young Writers Contest Begins!

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. We’ve extended the submission deadline to April 15, 2016 at midnight (Mountain Time). There is no fee for participation. Check out our guidelines here.

Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“How do we fight for what we want and need; to protect the planet; and to ensure justice for all, when we are confronting an oligarchy?”

Newsletter: Defeating The Oligarchs

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

2016 Young Writers Contest Begins!

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 The 2016 Young Writers Contest Is Open!

2016JudgesSince we first started our contest in the fall of 2011, we’ve received stories, essays, and poetry from students in over 24 countries. And now our 5th annual Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is up and running.  Due to the late start, the deadline has been extended to April 15th, 2016. You’ll find our guidelines online here.

We’re very excited to announce our prestigious panel of judges:

Meg Pokrass, Fiction

Meg Pokrass is the author of “Damn Sure Right” (Press 53, 2011) “Bird Envy” and a novella-in-flash “Here, Where We Live” one of five novellas-in-flash in the award-winning anthology “My Very End of the Universe – Five Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the Form” (Rose Metal Press, 2014). Read more about Meg Pokrass and her work here.

E. Ethelbert Miller, Poetry

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a progressive think tank located in Washington, D.C. For ten years he has been the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. In 1996, he delivered the commencement address at Emory and Henry College and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. Mr. Miller has been a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel in 2004 and 2012. In February 2006 he was the keynote speaker at the 50th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Israel, at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. Read More about E. Ethelbert Miller and his work here.

Rebekah Presson Mosby, Nonfiction. 

Rebekah Presson Mosby is a Grammy nominee and Audie award winner known for her work in poetry audio, for arts reporting on National Public Radio and for interviews with writers and artists. Read more about Rebekah Presson Mosby and her work here.

Special Note:

Writers for Peace, with this late start we’ll need your help more than ever to get the word out. As always we’re happy to mail you free bookmarks to hand out in classrooms and workshops. Contact us at editor@writingforpeace.org. Thank you so much for your help and support. It really does make a difference. Happy writing!

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Tree, by Azfar Ali Rizvi

11399_425513554192798_758677447_nTree

By Azfar Ali Rizvi

Among other things that almost all children universally share, is a tree. It could be the one in the backyard of our oldest house. The tree you played around. It could be the one you carved your name in, or the one you buried your pet cat under. Sometimes it’s simply the one you held close, while curiously looking at the funeral of your best friend’s brother. Or worse your own brother’s. Trees are our saviors, whether we acknowledge or not. They allow us to celebrate our gains and mourn our losses. They let us be.

This fleeting thought was triggered by news last year that the 007 Skyfall director Sam Mendes will bring to life the much loved British Author Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. Blyton has left behind an unmatchable legacy– her books not only sold over 500 million copies across the world, but were also translated into 40 languages. Pippa Harris, co-founder of Neal Street Productions, the company responsible for this ambitious task, expressed her excitement over the development, saying, “The Magic Faraway Tree is one of the most loved children’s books series from an iconic author whose work has been adored by generations. To be able to adapt these for the big screen is incredibly exciting.”

So I picked it up again last week, and saw the merit in C.S. Lewis’ words: “ … a story worth reading only in childhood is not worth reading even then.” I can read it again and again, and find something new every time. Storytelling at it’s best, the series sparks imagination about peace, diversity and family values. It reminds of us the potential of love and coexistence in a small world. This is a story that opens a portal to another world in every week, and gently nudges the readers to accept contrasting nuances and cultures. As adults, we tend to forget this as we take the world head on, and life gets in the way of our understanding of stories.

A good story amuses us; a great story allows us to fantasize and bend this world and the situations we find ourselves in, to allow us to clearly focus on the moral aspects of what’s happening. Hence, I consider it a privilege to be a small part of WFP. Every year, we are treated to some of the most challenging, unique and diverse perspectives from around the world. WFP is simply championing the cause of barebones storytelling for peace. My allegiance is not just because I crave a peaceful future, but also because writing liberated me from the clutches of my past, and allowed me to soar to a better future. A future where I could be with my tree and carry it on my sleeve.

 

Azfar Ali Rizvi, Writing for Peace Adviser2Azfar Rizvi is a proponent of social justice, and a driving force behind interfaith, cross-cultural and pedagogic initiatives across three continents. He is a Toronto based documentary filmmaker, Photographer, an academic and a cross-platform communications strategist.

Originally from Karachi, Azfar experienced extremism in his early years after surviving violent ethnic cleansing first hand. The incidents shook him to the core and he started exploring reasons behind extremism through this writing; something that evolved from local dailies to covering systemic national issues for news and current affairs publications across Pakistan. Before transitioning into television news and documentaries, he took to presenting radio with the country’s first English radio network at the time.

Learn more about Azfar Rizvi here.

 

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Activism Update From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“Black Americans, Indigenous peoples and immigrants who are standing up to highlight the injustices they suffer on a daily basis are creating a long overdue teachable moment for whites in the United States.  Whites who believe in equality, an end to prejudice and equal justice for all are standing with them; together we can make transformational change on racism and prejudice.”

Follow the latest Popular Resistance developments here.

 

DoveTales “Nature” Edition Update

DoveTales "Nature" CoverPurchase your copy of DoveTales “Nature” and support Writing for Peace! To all those who have ordered books for yourself, family, and friends, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Book sales help to cover the substantial costs of funding our mission.

DoveTales are available through our website here.

 

 Copyright © 2015 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Purse String Stagecraft, By David Scott Pointer

brain-barcode

   Purse String Stagecraft

By David Scott Pointer

 

Flesh-eating economic system

innards,

rolling

over community blood pressure apparatus,

attached to intergenerational empty wallets

attached to local and international poverty

attached to invisible, intertwined groups

with similar, different interests systemically

turned upon each other like pit-bulls or birds

innards

opening up the doors of paddy wagons

dispensing

box spring-bounce house, driver euphoria

disguising decades old ‘screen test’ metal

rebranded as unfortunate rough ride…….

splashed into teenage brain cells

addicted

to corporate college, mass consumerism

revisionist

page-turner TV, sound byte burn-bits

strategically misusing blackness stilled

aiding 1% adding machine economics

 

 

Brake Slamming Role Players

 

Police act like casting agents

while

driving

prisoner transport van, vamoose,

stomping on, lead-footing gas…

catapulting cuffed, unsuspecting

prisoners head-neck first into

their ‘screen test’ debuts, with

slim chance at Hollywoood, now

enroute to overcrowded hospital

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser David Scott Pointer

david-scott-pointer-writing-for-peace-advisor

David Scott Pointer is a long time social justice/political poet. His father, a piano playing bank robber, died when David was just 3 years old, leaving him to be raised by his grandmother, who determined that the best way to keep her young charge from emulating his “scoundrel” father was to socialize him to be a good soldier.  David’s earliest memories are of training for battle in his backyard in Kansas City, Missouri. Learn more about David and his work here.

 

 

quill3Victoria’s Writing Tips~

Creating Story Tension with Characters

By Victoria Hanley


An important part of writing a story is creating a convincing antagonist to oppose the main character. For this writing exercise, bring to mind someone from real life whose personality grates on you and whose perspective seems to be all messed up. Now, write a scene from that person’s viewpoint. Describe the world through their eyes, and do your best to imagine and express the turbulent tides of their emotions. How will this help you to create an interesting antagonist for a story of your own?

 

Meet Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace Adviser

Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace AdviserVictoria Hanley’s novels have won many honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, and Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and at Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins.

Learn more about Victoria’s books, read her blog, download a free chapter of Wild Ink, and watch Victoria in action at www.victoriahanley.com.

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Activism Update From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“A recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, “The Climate Deception Dossiers,” proves that the corporations which profit from the burning of fossil fuels knew about global warming decades ago, knew their industries contributed to it and responded by funding propaganda to deny global warming and pushing policies that increased their profits at the expense of a livable future.”

Follow the latest Popular Resistance developments here.

 

DoveTales “Nature” Edition Update

DoveTales "Nature" CoverPurchase your copy of DoveTales “Nature” and support Writing for Peace! To all those who have ordered books for yourself, family, and friends, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Book sales help to cover the substantial costs of funding our mission.

DoveTales are available through our website here.

 

 Copyright © 2015 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Poems from ROOTWORK, by Veronica Golos

Veronica rootwork croppedPoems from ROOTWORK

by Veronica Golos

From The Lost Notebook, Mary Day Brown_________________
 
Elba, New York, late evening, December 6, 1859.
five days after the hanging of my husband John Brown
 
This morning they began to arrive. First
a small wagon, a man, his young son
beside him. Then an entire
family, three children, father
mother, grandmother.
Even some we had
helped on to Canada. I stood
in my doorway, as the tract around the house
filled with horses, wagons, those who
had walked. Mr. Epps was nearby,
Mr. Riddick, silent as always.

I will not weep.

All day, the crowd grew, many wearing black armbands,
mostly the negroes, & there were
hundreds—& a number
of whites as well. There was little talk. Whispers
as someone moved to make room.
Dusk settled upon us; campfires flared—
huge stars, the ground
a hard sky. Somewhere, someone
began to sing:

My Lord what a Morning
My Lord what a Morning
Oh My Lord, what a Morning
When the stars begin to fall.

People stood, swaying, firelight flickering.
It was a song well known,
their voices came together, a keening sound.
A sole harmonica,
far back in the crowd. I could hear horses snorting,
the rustle of animals in the woods.
The words, no, the feeling inside the words, for him,
made me tremble. I had to sit. His chair,
where he liked to rest
as the sun went down.

From The Lost Letters, John Brown to Mary Day Brown

Charlestown Prison, Jefferson County, Virginia,
December 1, 1859.

Dearest Wife,

Mrs. Frances Harper has agreed to deliver this letter.
I trust her completely, as do you. She will help, I believe, in the days
to come. Trust, also, in the Lord.

I say trust in the Lord & yet I send this missive
full of questions. What have I left
undone, unsaid? I do not doubt the Lord, but
we tried to rally great numbers, & we did fail. Have I
sacrificed my sons as Abraham might have done? Have I
laid down others upon an altar? Did I
judge wrongly? That slavery will come to its end
through fire, that I do not doubt. It is my own life
that I wonder, have I done it right?

I know the Lord is righteous, & the passion the enslaved
bring to Bible removes any doubt – yet, Mary, the suffering.

We lived together at Kennedy’s farm, negro and white,
your daughters too. All were upright & were branded with friendship,
not iron. Can not the world be as this? Together & in dignity?
 
All fallen as we are?

Your husband, John Brown

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace Adviser release, small

.ghost code. before.
Here
sand is flat
and the wet
salt ticks
through air
the sea slurs

into the hair of tides
I am still damp
when I wake from before
deep in this
in-between

I hear the low bells
charge the air
a bonnet
of ringing about my head

O I remember     once I loved a bound man

I hid
his flowers
under the floorboards
and the small
shells
of his loving
I buried
beneath the tulips

I owned nothing
not   myself   only
his kindness
dripping down my throat
for me to taste

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace Adviser release, small

From The Lost Notebook, Mary Day Brown

Elba, New York, May, 1855.

It is dark & I write by a thin light.
The children still sleep.
John Brown away to Kansas with his sons.
I am gaining something here. Hard
work does not fray me; I am a dry
cord, wood piled & ready to be burned.

Yesterday, two Abolition Ladies visited
to bring us funds. They lifted their skirts
above the mud.
I was planting with my negro neighbors, Mr. Epps & Mr.
Riddick. We’d already shorn their sheep. We were heavy
with work.

“Oh, I see,” Mrs. Wrightworth said. “You
have no men folk here.”

I write this, my anger a blue flame.
My neighbors turned—walked
the steep hill toward their farms; the maples
were shaking in the light.
Here, in Elba, finally, it is spring.
Outside is all loveliness—the lilacs are just about to
bloom

through. I am so ashamed.
The good-intended
can cut a wound & worse, they do
not know what they do.

About Writing for Peace Adviser Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace Adviser B&WVeronica Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence, winner of the New Mexico Book Award, poems from which are translated into Arabic by poet Nizar Sartawi, and A Bell Buried Deep, co-winner of the 16th Annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (Story Line Press), to be re-issued by Tupelo Press. Her most recent poetry book is Rootwork: The Lost Writings of John Brown & Mary Day Brown, (3: A Taos Press, 2015). Golos is the Poetry Editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (Harvard Divinity School), and co-editor of the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art. She lives in Taos, NM, with her husband, David Pérez. Learn more about Veronica’s work here. ROOTWORK is available for purchase through 3 Taos Press.

 

 

quill3Victoria’s Writing Tips~

Writing Through Sorrow

By Victoria Hanley

For this writing exercise, I encourage you to remember and record a sorrow that you have lived through. When and where was it? Who was there, and what happened? Write it all out, and let your emotions come through, as if your words are tears on the page. Keep writing, and let it all pour out of you, even if it feels as if your tears are an ocean. Write, write until your heart begins to feel something new, until you have some bit of freedom from this sorrow.

Meet Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace Adviser

Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace AdviserVictoria Hanley’s novels have won many honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, and Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and at Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins.

Learn more about Victoria’s books, read her blog, download a free chapter of Wild Ink, and watch Victoria in action at www.victoriahanley.com.

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Activism Update From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserRead Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese latest article on TPP Fast Track here.

Follow the latest Popular Resistance developments here.

 

DoveTales “Nature” Edition Update

DoveTales "Nature" CoverDoveTales “Nature” is now in the distribution process, making its way across the globe through the USPS. We’ve sent two shipments this week, and a third will go out on Saturday!

To all those who have ordered books for yourself, family, and friends, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Book sales go a long way toward the substantial costs of funding our mission.

DoveTales are available through our website here.

 

 Copyright © 2015 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

2015 Progress Report, by Carmel Mawle

cropped-winslow-homer-american-painter-1836-1910-girl-in-a-hammock-187312015 Writing for Peace Progress Report

By Carmel Mawle, Founder and President

One of the questions I am most frequently asked by fellow activists is, “How do you keep from getting burned out?” I always struggle a bit with this one. Like many artists I know, I’ve never found a way to face the suffering of the oppressed, the groaning of this beautiful planet earth, without internalizing that pain. As activists, we have different burn-out thresholds, and our resilience may rise or fall depending on health or other stress factors. We do need to make decisions about energy expenditures, and be aware of those times when our reserves are low. But, if you are lucky enough to have an artform in which you can express that awareness, if you can take the pain and suffering of the world and create art with the intention of shaking the imperial foundations and corporate pillars, then you might have already learned one of the hidden joys of artivism – pour your heart and soul in, and it fills you up. Creation heals us and increases our capacity. As Kurt Vonnegut put it, “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.”

Writing for Peace was founded on the premise that the very act of writing is transformative. We experience that shift when we read, slipping into a character’s mind, like walking in another man’s moccasins, to think their thoughts, and understand their reasoning. Imagine how exponentially greater the transformative impact when we are creating the story, researching the environmental, familial, or political pressures crushing down on our characters, and imagining our way into their consciousness. This is empathy, the seed of compassion, and the foundation of a more peaceful world.

One of the coolest aspects of Writing for Peace is when we check in with our young writers a year later. We ask them how their writing is coming along, and where they see it going in the future. This year we also thought it would be interesting to ask a more philosophical question: What does “writing for peace” mean to you? The answers are always moving and inspiring. For those of us who need the periodic boost to the energy reservoir, it’s helpful to shift our focus to where something positive is happening. Here are some examples:

Writing for Peace holds a special place in my heart because it’s really the first time I had written a fictional piece that digs so deeply into the struggles and wonders of cultural identity. It gave me the valuable opportunity to think about what peace really means, and how to apply the concept to a cultural perspective. Writing for Peace was truly a catalyst for my passion for writing, and I am honored to have participated in it. One of the best things about it is that it is open to the entire world; anybody can submit a piece of writing, and anybody can be encouraged to explore our world’s cultural diversity. Some of the most inspirational world leaders have all started out writing pamphlets or articles for a certain cause because to them and to me, writing has always had the power to move minds. Writing for Peace can truly make future world leaders.

~ Angela Yoon, Grade 10, Gangnam-gu, Seoul-si, South Korea

The next major phase of my writing came in the form of college essays. I carried the same lessons I learned from Writing for Peace—incorporating personal examples, evoking pathos, and writing with passion—into my college essays. The consummation of my college writing/application process occurred when I was accepted into Cornell University, where I will be writing the next chapter of my life.

~ Ben Gershenfeld, Grade 11, Voorhees, New Jersey, USA

To me, the moment that I was silent with incredulity at the sight of my name on the award-winning essays of Writing for Peace Young Competition, was one of important milestones in my journey to become an international journalist. Writing For peace brings me a great deal of personal experiences and knowledge that at a certain extent dissolves my cultural preconception and at the same time boosts my self-confidence.

~ Yen Nguyen, Grade 10, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

I hope to continue to explore issues of current events and global citizenship through my writing. To me, Writing for Peace is a vessel for empathy between people who have little in common. It strives to break down barriers which we’ve erected over millennia, and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it. 

~ Dash Yeatts-Lonske, Grade 10, Rockville, Maryland, USA

 

In the future, I plan to continue writing and using this art form as a mechanism for spreading messages of peace.

~John Vernaglia, Grade 8, Medford, Massachusetts, USA

 

When I talk with our readers and advisers, I hear it again and again, “These young writers give me hope.” I feel the same way. How can we not be inspired by young writers who maintain their optimism despite what might be an unprecedented awareness of global crisis? But hope is a two-way street, a reciprocal commodity. While their optimism may give us hope, our faith in these young writers, our commitment to educate, support, and lift them up, also gives them hope. In the words of Cassidy Cole:

Writing for Peace, and all that it stands for, is what this world needs in the light of peace, happiness, equality, and a more desirable place. Just the pure existence of an organization that aims to create compassion and peace through creative writing gives me easeful thoughts for our future. Writing for Peace gives me hope and I am utterly inspired by its vision and what the organization does. This organization is the light of not only what lays on the other side, but the light that guides all us writers there.

 ~ Cassidy Cole, Grade 8, Denver, Colorado, USA

 

All of our 2014 winners’ work is featured, along with works from many of our advisers, and other established and emerging artivists, in our “Nature” edition of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. This beautiful book will be released a week from this coming Friday, on May 1st. Watch our blog, website, and Facebook page for information on how you can purchase your copy, and support Writing for Peace.

 

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Writing for Peace News

Victoria’s Writing Tips~

Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce our newest adviser, Victoria Hanley. Victoria is an award-winning author, known for her exciting young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as her nonfiction books dedicated to developing the craft of writing. Victoria has offered to provide bi-monthly writing tips for our young writers (and the  rest of us). Thank you, and welcome to Writing for Peace, Victoria!

Writing Exercise for Peace of Mind

By Victoria Hanley

No one else will read what you’re about to write. This is because you need to know you can confide in yourself no matter what you have to say.

Write about something that’s troubling you. Let the emotion pour through you, and use your strongest verbs and most illuminating adjectives to describe how you feel and what’s going on. When you’re done, hit the delete key–or if you’ve written on paper, feed the page through a shredder or tear it up.

When at least two hours have passed, write again, and this time write anything that occurs to you that might be able to solve your problem.

 

Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace AdviserMeet Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace Adviser

By studying fiction, I’ve learned that a good story is built around conflict. However, a good life is built around peace.

~ Victoria Hanley

Victoria Hanley spent years preparing for a writing career by holding as many contrasting jobs as possible, from baking bread to teaching anatomy and hosting radio shows. She’s lived in California, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Oregon, and Colorado, and traveled throughout North America via plane, train, bus, car, and bicycle. Who knew she’d be the author of 7 books published in 12 languages!

Victoria’s novels have won many honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, and Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and at Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins.

Learn more about Victoria’s books, read her blog, download a free chapter of Wild Ink, and watch Victoria in action at www.victoriahanley.com.

 

Writing for Peace May Day Events

  • 2015 DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts “Nature” Edition Book Release! Watch for news of the latest DoveTales, a truly extraordinary and beautiful edition of our annual journal.
  • 2015 Young Writer Winners Announcements! Find out what our prestigious judges (Antonya Nelson, Fiction; Steve Almond, Nonfiction; and Stephen Kuusisto, Poetry) have to say about our talented young writers!

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