Category Archives: Advisory Panel Contributors

Finalist Sophia Fang’s Zongzi, Martín Espada Reading and Other W4P News

Read 2020 Young Writers Contest Finalists Pieces In Our July Blog

Congratulations to Sophia Fang, whose short story “Zongzi” came in as one of two 2020 Young Writers Contest Fiction Finalists. Sophia is in grade 10 at Westview High School in Sandiego, California. Read her short story, “Zongzi,” here.

Friday Live Readings

(Photo by Connie Kuusisto)

If you missed Adviser Stephen Kuusisto’s wonderful reading from his latest book, Have Dog, Will Travel, the recording is available now. Learn how his book, requested by Simon and Schuster, evolved into the lyrical memoir it became. Stephen’s reading touched on his process and activism, the books that influenced his writing and personal growth, and became something of a love poem to his first guide dog, Corky and his wife, Connie. Watch the reading in full here.

(Photo by David González)

Our next Friday Live Reading is on July 24th at 8pm ET with Martín Espada, our DoveTales Resistance Featured Writer. He will read from his new book, Floaters, and discuss his process and activism. Find the details here. You won’t want to miss this!

Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His forthcoming book of poems from Norton is called Floaters. His many honors include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His book of essays and poems, Zapata’s Disciple (1998), was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona, and reissued by Northwestern University Press. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

If You Don’t Know Me by Now…

By Adviser E. Ethelbert Miller, in AWP Magazine & Media

Adviser E. Ethelbert Miller

Too many metaphors are missing these days. In their absence, we desperately search for a way of explaining the sudden upheaval in our society. We uproot the past looking for historical clarity. Unfortunately, the future often wears a mask. We are no longer protesting like this is the ’60s. The motion of history has taken us somewhere else. “Where are we?” is as difficult to utter as “Once upon a time.” As writers, our own words and narratives (if we are not careful) can turn against us, and even become suffocating.

Read E. Ethelbert Miller’s entire essay here.

 


Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

May 29, Friday Live with Veronica Golos, A W4P Reading Series

Join the May 29th Writing for Peace Friday Live Reading with Veronica Golos

On Friday, May 29th, at 8pm EDT, Veronica Golos will read from her latest book of poems, Girl, published by 3: A Taos Press. We hope you’ll invite all your friends and join us on Zoom to ask your questions and hear Veronica Golos read her work. You can purchase her book by contacting her at veronicagolos@yahoo.com.

Connect to Veronica Golos Reading Here

Meeting I.D. 827-5887-0958 Password: 690434
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82758870958?pwd=djY3NUZlZ1hpZ3RjL1VSRnV4YnRXUT09

Learn more about Veronica Golos’ latest book, GIRL.

Phillip Richards Review “In Girl, Golos makes use of the conventions and motifs of the fairy tale to translate its realistic subject matter into symbolist levels of meaning. Her narrative turns inward, producing an autobiographical tale reminiscent of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s early essays ‘Nature’ and ‘Self- Reliance,’ Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and Adrienne Rich’s middle-period collections, Diving into the Wreck and The Will to Change. Girl gives us not a factual history, but an extended poetic myth of an evolving inner self and political consciousness.” Read Entire Phillip Richards Review Here.

GIRL: A Review by Gary Worth Moody “No other poet inhabits persona as completely as does Veronica. GIRL is a masterpiece of shifting linguistic space and time. The space of the narrative defies topology. Time becomes rhythm becomes JAZZ. The music morphs from species to species.The lyric becomes prayer, becomes rant, becomes, an evolutionary triptych. Every gender on the planet should go buy this book and read it, to each other, to their lovers, to their daughters, to their sons, to their parents, to their husbands, to their wives, to their priests, even to their shamans, There are truths inside. INSIDE EVERY WOLF IS A GIRL.” Read entire Gary Worth Moody Review Here.

You can purchase her beautiful book by contacting her at veronicagolos@yahoo.com.

About Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos is founding co-editor of the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, former poetry editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and core faculty at Tupelo Press’s Writers Conferences. Golos is the author of four poetry books, GIRL (3: A Taos Press) awarded the Naji Naaman Honor Prize for Poetry, 2019 (Beirut, Lebanon); Rootwork (3: A Taos Press, 2015); Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award, translated into Arabic by poet Nizar Sartawi; and A Bell Buried Deep (Storyline Press, 2004), co-winner of the 16th Annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, adapted for stage and performed at Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA. Golos has read or lectured at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, Hunter College, Juilliard School of Music, Regis University, University of New Mexico, Diné (Navajo) Technical College, Kansas State University, Transylvania University, and Colorado (Pueblo) University, among others. She lives in Taos, NM, with her husband, David Pérez.

Veronica Golos’ fourth poetry book, Girl, deepens her impressive command of utterance and dialectic. Lifting off the page, the poems execute with precision the internal, deep prayered world of Girl and the outer, harsh unprayered world. The poems articulate both the inability to express oneself and the refusal to do so as an act of self-hood and rebellion. Alternating voices rub against the sensual life: the splendid mane of horses, leaving the body for a night sky, the dive into green waters. Golos’ use of poetic and visual form, prophesy, fairy tale, and myth captures a delicate vulnerability in a threatening world. Her poems invoke a frisson of daughtermotherhood—an arc of loss and reunion. Girl reminds us of the intelligence of childhood: perceptive, gifted, imaginative—a communion between hope and ache.

Golos’s poems are included in The Poet’s CraftAnnie Finch, Editor, 2012, University of Michigan Press; Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined, 3: A Taos Press, 2011, and in journals including Spillway, Meridians, Drunken Boat, Orion, Cimarron, Contemporary World Literature, Sin Fronteras, Verso (Paris), Poetry (London), Rattle, World Literature Magazine Spring’s Forum.

Translated Poems from Vocabulary of Silence have appeared in over 24 journals and publications throughout the Middle East including (Syria), www.nabee.awatf.com, www.saddana.com, (UAE),www.shenrayar.com/ar, (Iraq)   www.Alimbaratur.com  (Denmark) and Maqal (Kuwait).


Young Writers Contest – Enter to Win our $200 Grand Prize

Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. The deadline for entrance is June 1st, 2020. There is no fee for participation. Writers, ages 13-19, may submit in one of three categories – poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. For more information, go to our Young Writers Contest Guidelines page.


Call for Submissions: Resistance

The Summer Issue of DoveTales, An International Online Journal of the Arts will be published on August 1st, 2020. Our guest editor is Brad Wetzler. His theme is “Resistance.” Reading period will open on March 16th, 2020, and  close on June 15th, 2020. Read the complete guidelines here.

 

Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Friday Live with E. Ethelbert Miller, A W4P Reading Series

Announcing our new Friday Live Reading Series!

Beginning on May 1st, at 8pm ET, with E. Ethelbert Miller, Writing for Peace will host a reading of extraordinary poets and writers every other Friday evening in Zoom. It will be a chance to not only hear our guests read, but also ask your questions as a part of the Writing for Peace community.  This Friday, E. Ethelbert Miller will read from unpublished work as well as from his latest book, If God Invented Baseball.  You can purchase his book through Simon and Schuster here. We hope you’ll invite all your friends and join us this Friday!

About E. Ethelbert Miller

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs and several books of poetry including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his work. For 17 years Miller served as the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. His poetry has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Miller is a two-time Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel. He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Emory and Henry College and has taught at several universities.

Miller is host of the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV. In recent years, Miller has been inducted into the 2015 Washington DC Hall of Fame and awarded the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the 2016 DCMayor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. In 2018, he was inducted into Gamma Xi Phi and appointed as an ambassador for the Authors Guild. Miller’s most recent book If God Invented Baseball, published by City Point Press, was awarded the 2019 Literary Award for poetry by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Join the Writing for Peace Friday Live Reading with E. Ethelbert Miller

When: Friday, May 1st, 2020, from 8-9pm ET
Where: Meeting ID: 841 3395 3865, Password: 545964

Connect to E. Ethelbert Miller Reading Here


Young Writers Contest Deadline Extended

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Writing for Peace Board of Directors has decided to extend the deadline for our 2020 Young Writers Contest to June 1st.

Enter to Win our $200 Grand Prize

Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes.

  • The deadline for entrance is June 1st, 2020.
  • There is no fee for participation.
  • Writers, ages 13-19, may submit in one of three categories – poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Ages are counted from the entry date, and entrants are required to show proof of age (those images are never shared publicly).
  • Winners and published finalists will be asked to submit an author’s photograph and biography. We encourage you to explore the past winners’ pages on our website to see the types of information and pictures authors share.
  • The contest is open internationally, but all submissions must be written in English and submitted with the completed form. Both American and British English are accepted.

For more information, go to our Young Writers Contest Guidelines page.

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

E. Ethelbert Miller Joins W4P, and Other Exciting News

E. Ethelbert Miller Joins Writing for Peace

“Peace is linked to harmony, our relationship between people as well as with nature. Peace might be linked to calm and stillness but it is also fluid. It is always something we should be moving towards. Peace is also the measurement of the heart and the capacity to love. Our desire but failure to find the ‘strength to love’ is often why peace is so difficult to maintain.”

~E. Ethelbert Miller, Writer, Literary Activist, Writing for Peace Adviser

Writing for Peace welcomes E. Ethelbert Miller to our Panel of Advisers. Mr. Miller is the Featured Writer in our current DoveTales Online, and brings a wealth of experience to our panel through a lifetime of literary activism.

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs and several books of poetry including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his work. For 17 years Miller served as the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. His poetry has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Miller is a two-time Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel. He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Emory and Henry College and has taught at several universities.

Miller is host of the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV. In recent years, Miller has been inducted into the 2015 Washington DC Hall of Fame and awarded the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the 2016 DCMayor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. In 2018, he was inducted into Gamma Xi Phi and appointed as an ambassador for the Authors Guild. Miller’s most recent book If God Invented Baseball, published by City Point Press, was awarded the 2019 Literary Award for poetry by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

In W4P other news~

Looking Ahead to Summer 2020 DoveTales

Brad Wetzler has agreed to be our Guest Editor for the Summer edition of DoveTales Online, published on August 1st. A former senior editor at Outside magazine, Brad Wetzler is a writer, journalist, and editor best known for his magazine feature stories and essays. His work has appeared in respected publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Wired, GQ, Men’s Journal, Best American Travel Writing, and Outside, where he is a current contributing editor. Stay tuned for more details!

Exciting Writing for Peace Book News

Congratulations to Writing for Peace Advisers Veronica Golos, Djelloul Marbrook, Wang Ping and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley on the publication of their latest books! These wonderful advisers continue to challenge and inspire us through their work. Watch here for coming reviews and please support their work by purchasing their books and/or asking your local librarians to make them available to their patrons.

Adviser Veronica Golos, Girl

“Once, several years ago, on the mesa between Tetilla peak and the Santa Fe River gorge, I saw what I believe to this day was a wolf running. I believed at the time the creature was male. Now I am certain there was a girl inside. This new conclusion because I have finished reading (and studying) Veronica Golos’s wonder, entitled GIRL from Andrea Watson’s 3: A Taos Press. No other poet inhabits persona as completely as does Veronica. GIRL is a masterpiece of shifting formal and free space and time. This is the creation of a master linguistic geographer. The space of the narrative defies topology. Time becomes rhythm becomes JAZZ. The music morphs from species to species. The lyric becomes prayer, becomes rant, becomes an evolutionary triptych. Every gender on the planet should go buy this book and read it, to each other, to their lovers, to their daughters, to their sons, to their parents, to their husbands, to their wives, to their friends, to their confessors, to their shamans, There are truths inside. “INSIDE EVERY WOLF IS A GIRL.”  ~Gary Worth Moody

Adviser Djelloul Marbrook: Lying Like Presidents, New & Selected Poems, 2001-2019

Governments are prone to becoming sinkholes of lies. Sometimes whole societies are swallowed by them. “Lying Like Presidents,” the title poem of prize-winning poet  Djelloul Marbrook’s new and collected poems, is a meditation in cantos on this horrific history. The work explores how our minds rewrite and invent memories to light our footsteps towards the kind of persons we aspire to be. The lies we tell ourselves, the poet says, can transfigure our lives—or the opposite.

Here is an opportunity to savor the breadth and depth of this surprising poet in one volume. No library should be without Lying Like Presidents.

 

Adviser Wang Ping, My Name is Immigrant

“Bleeding dreams and hungry ghosts move about Wang Ping’s latest collection, building up deposits of rage, shame and sometimes mercy. Her truth telling emerges from a deep well, describing the movement of people and the stories, the hope, and the desire they carry with them across deserts and oceans, over walls and through every barrier. The age-old question remains, with sharp clarity in these pages⁠—who among us decides who is allowed in, accepted, celebrated?” ~M.L. Smoker, Montana Co-Poet Laureate

Adviser Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Praise Song for My Children, New and Selected Poems

“Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is unequivocal about the uses of poetry, of her poetry—she is determined to trade in truth, in the power of experience, in the beauty of language to alarm and delight and in the challenge she willingly bears to be an instrument of witness and articulation for her people—for Africa, for women, for the lovers of poetry. In Praise Song for My Children, we encounter a poet at the height of her skills and at the height of her clarity about the world and what things must be spoken into it. But we are blessed to be given an insight into how she arrives at this place of power—it is a remarkable selection of some of the most urgent poems to emerge out of the wars of Liberia. Here is work of incredible joy, deepest lamentation, and necessary hope. It is a sure testament.” ~ Kwame Dawes

Dear readers and writers for peace, we encourage you to purchase all your books from Poetic Justice Books, a like-minded business that donates a portion of their proceeds to Writing for Peace. Thank you for supporting an Independent Book Seller and Writing for Peace, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

Writing for Peace Employment Opportunity

Writing for Peace is looking for grant writers who have experience working with literary and youth organizations. For more information, please contact us at mawlecarmel@gmail.com with the subject heading W4P Grant Writing.

Keep the faith, keep speaking out, and keep writing for peace!

Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Peter Street’s Natural World Poetry: Earth Talks

Adviser Peter Street was diagnosed with autism six years ago. At 70, Street believes his incredible life is in large part thanks to his autism. A qualified Arboriculturist and environmentalist who writes on Green issues, his book Trees Will Be Trees was published with Shoestring Press. He launched his last book, Listening to The Dark, at the Albuquerque Lit Festival, where he appeared during a tour of Midwest America funded by Professor Fred Whitehead, retired. Preeta Press published his memoir: Hidden Depths: Life and Loves of A Young Gravedigger. Street was recently interviewed with the BBC “1800 Seconds on Autism” and Readers Digest interviewed him about his work as someone with five successful poetry books with an international readership. John Harris, in his Guardian Weekend stated, “Peter Street was the most interesting person I have ever interviewed.”

Even when Street writes of the wars of men, a strong current of the natural runs through his poetry. Below, are two poems previously published in Thumbing From Lipik to Pakrac, by Waterloo Press.

 

Trigger Happy

They were trees being trees
minding their own business
on the corner next to the swimming pool
in Lipik

Christ’s sake, just standing
on the corner
until snipers blew
their tops out

target practice,
keeping their eye in
there were trees

and there were bodies
all over the place
you should have seen it

on second thoughts

*

Dunscar Cenotaph 

                                for Thomas Edgar Street
Pals, all of them
buried there right in front of us
underneath “Keep Off The Grass”,
as if they’ve been carried here
from where ever they fell
for me and dad

who, every time we stand here
on the edge, holds his black trilby
tight to his chest

trying to tell me
about his trench
and something or other
about some gas

I almost lose balance
and stumble
into their sacred ground
on top of them

*

In his latest collection, Earth Talks (forthcoming by Caparison Press), Peter Street addresses what amounts to a war against the natural world. “The book is about a parliament of flowers coming together to talk about the harm humans have caused over the centuries- but it’s also about the advent of climate change,” says Street. “The plants in the past have been silent bystanders- but now that has come to an end – they think it’s time for action.”

About Earth Talks, Caron Freeborn, poet and university lecturer says, “In some ways, this is different from Street’s other work: more overtly politicized, less filled with people, and yet many of the same things occur: spare, usable language; the sound(s) of natural speech condensed to drive the poetry; attention to the power of white space. Anyone engaging with this book will leave it more informed; as William Carlos Williams said: ‘It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there’. We all die miserably for want of what is found in Peter Street’s deceptively simple yet rigorous work. Everything natural is beautiful and itself and a metaphor at the same time; everything is dangerous and true ‘remembering those poor beetles / who tested the waters and teased the millions of elms into suicide / even then we were still ignored’. This is a book we all need to read.”

Saying No to The Icebergs

Sand Sedge    Carex arenaria 

like all families we have fought

put it behind us
an army is washing
towards us

waves of them
from land of ice and water
we have to be ready

or be washed away

come and stand with us
here next to my triangular stems
shields against their salt-burn

we have to slow those waves down

take the battle to them   here
on these dunes
Sand Sedges are natural warriors

we take root   colonise
safe in numbers
know what we have to do
are you with us

*
Congratulations to Writing for Peace Adviser Peter Street on the completion of this latest powerful collection, Earth Talks, by Caparison Press. The book and ebook can be preordered for £6, plus postage, by contacting Peter at peter.street3@googlemail.com


Exciting Writing for Peace Publishing News

December 2nd, 2019

DoveTales logoWe are thrilled to announce that, due to popular demand, Writing for Peace will continue the annual tradition of publishing a print edition of DoveTales, An International  Journal of the Arts in addition to our twice annual DoveTales Online. Our 2019 DoveTales Anthology will be available for purchase beginning next week, featuring Guest Editor Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s One World, One People summer edition, including contributors from all over the globe, and the winners of our 2019 Young Writers Contest. Coming Monday, December 9th, the 2019 DoveTales Anthology makes the ideal holiday gift!

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Recommended: NDN: the words of a little hawk, by Elaine Gerard

In keeping with our goal of developing empathy, compassion, and awareness through education and creative writing, Writing for Peace is encouraging expanded reading through our partnership with Poetic Justice Books. This is the first of our Advisers’ Recommended Readings, a review by Writing for Peace Adviser Robert Kostuck.

NDN: the words of a little hawk

by Elaine Gerard

reviewed by Robert Kostuck

 

Difficult subjects often make for strong and worthwhile poetry, and in NDN: the words of a little hawk, Elaine Gerard is never at a loss for subject matter. In “My Uncivil Heart,” she delineates the balance between her Native American heritage and the mainstream social expectations.

“. . . I see out of the corner
of slatted dark eyes,
the tattered edge of an arrow
and the shaggy heart
of the Indian beast
that wishes to rival
the best efforts of
your teacup world.”

Indeed, her heritage is the basis for her approach to all experience, strident and complex panegyrics which illuminate whatever touches her heart. Cultural awareness can be difficult when one is in the default position; beyond that position it becomes the root of everything. Social interaction, relationships with people or nature, sex, introspection, and healing fall within her scope. Her eye is unflinchingly honest, and a poem like “Desert Rain” is objective—as good writing must be—never falling into self-pity.

“a baby girl stirs in my belly
safe from this red shower
he stands over me with a fist,
I slipped and fell and now,
it’s pouring in my kitchen and
I don’t have a way out of the rain.”

This unflinching eye also acts as witness to the beauty of the natural world. As a member of the Blackfeet Indian Nation, Gerard lives her affinity for the landscape and sensory impressions of Montana. One can easily visualize this geography in the section titled Montana In My Blood, and “Sleepy Highway” perfectly illustrates this.

“This Montana day,
this long road
is lined with
thoughts of chickens,
truckloads of hay
and winter wheat
sleeping in brown dirt,
it smells like sage
and a thousand pieces
of my past . . . .”

The section titled “Letting Go” is a perfect example of objective soul searching, intensely personal evaluations, meditations on what it is to be human. The expression of self, composed for the self, offers the opportunity for reflection, consideration, and closure. Lines from “Remembering to Forget” concisely illustrate what a talented writer can do when given the opportunity for self-evaluation.

“I dig into my heart
to squeeze the feelings out,
in amazement at my life,
allow my soul to embrace
and maybe to love
the gentle pain of past losses,
to acknowledge my present life,
and all its goodness . . . .”

Part of the “Prologue” to this volume encapsulates what a reviewer can be at a loss to say. Would that others take a lesson from this highly recommended work, looking within themselves to discover who they really are.

“Life spits out a silent little girl who watches the world, a beleaguered teen into the mean streets and a married woman out the door of life as a divorcee. She is finding her way.”


Robert Kostuck is the guest editor for the February 2020 online issue of DoveTales. The theme is “Gardens in the Desert: Cultivating Awareness.” Broadly interpreted, this theme can encompass — Emotional, psychic, intellectual, physical, or social growth.

— The myriad ways we plant, nurture, harvest, or reap.

— Real or metaphorical gardens as destinations, refuges, nexus points of transformation, or starting points.

— Relationships real or imagined: the arid and/or seemingly empty places in interpersonal connections. The spaces in-between. Memory gaps, the gaps between intention and action, the passage of time forgotten. Empty pages, deleted hard drives, houses emptied of possessions, minds cleared of thoughts and desires.

— Bringing life to actual deserts, urban deserts, arctic deserts, lives that are deserts, relationships that are deserts, deserts of the past or future.

— Awareness = seeking, cultivating, residing in, exemplifying.

Submission window open through November 01, 2019. Submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, interviews, art, and photography are all welcome.

 

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Small Bites: Regional Chapters of Writing for Peace, by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Gandhi gentle way quill

Small (Local) Bites: Creating Regional Chapters of Writing for Peace

By Mary Carroll-Hackett

I’ve had the privilege of working with the national organization Writing for Peace for the last four years, an organization dedicated to employing the skills, talents, and energy of writers toward the goals of promoting empathy and peaceful activism. The dream of one woman, Writing for Peace was started in Colorado by our founder Carmel Mawle, with its initial goal of particularly reaching out to young writers, through an annual Young Writers’ Contest. The dedication of this organization, to writing, to working to create real social change, to the belief that art can be and is a powerful tool for changing hearts and minds, and especially the organization’s dedication to young people, mirror in nearly every way the beliefs that drive my own writing, my own teaching, so I was thrilled when asked by Carmel to join the team of Writing for Peace advisers.

Writing for Peace continues to grow under the direction of our new President, Andrea Slack Doray, and an excellent board, all committed to the mission Carmel first set out years ago.

I introduced the organization and its mission to my own students, young poets, essayists, and fiction writers, in the classes I teach at Longwood University, and they loved it. They loved how the goals aligned with their own desire and passion for activism and social justice, loved that it embodied what they saw as the vital role of artists in creating real change in the world. From this initial introduction, we created the Online Youth Summit, an educational venture featuring keynotes from young activists from all over the world, creating a safe space for young people to engage, and fostering discussions of social justice and change, as well as celebrating their own creative work.

But Colorado’s a long way from the rolling rural farmland of central Virginia, and while we share so much in common, no matter where we live, every community and region faces its own unique needs and challenges. One question that kept arising among my students was How do we bring what matters about Writing For Peace home?

So, as is my habit, to promote and make space for autonomy and ownership, (and because I learn as much from them as I’ll ever teach them), I answered my students’ question with a question. I sent a message through an online thread to a list of twenty or so of my current students and alums, asking, “How do you see us bringing Writing for Peace here to Virginia? What would a regional chapter of WFP look like to you?”

The thread exploded, with the energy and enthusiasm and wisdom young people can bring, and the idea of WFP Regional Chapters began to grow, including community activists in our area, and supporters of the arts, as we developed the proposal, sought board approval, and began the steps to making a first chapter of Writing for Peace a reality here in Central Virginia.

This past Sunday, using the magic of online video conferencing, we gathered, a small group of like-minded collaborators, for the first meeting of the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace.

Writers of all backgrounds and ages, supporters of the arts, community activists, we, as a chapter, along with anyone who wants to join our efforts, have come together to do what we can and use the skills we have to make our own communities and region better, stronger, more peaceful places for all who live here. We believe, too, that one of the most effective roles we can play is in acknowledging, assisting, and providing support to other activists and organizations already doing good work on the ground where we are.

We envision the work we will do together arising from three primary goals:

Awareness. Education. Action.

In every day real-world terms, we envision chapters affecting change through projects we develop as a group, through the support we extend to efforts already in place in our communities, and through our own writing, using our voices right where we are.

I tell my students when they’re overwhelmed, as so many of us are these days:

Take small bites. We can’t run to the UN and create world peace all by ourselves. But we can, each day, in our daily conversations, promote peace and be willing to listen, even to those with whom we don’t agree. We can’t run to the White House and single-handedly stop the onslaught against the civil rights of American citizens. But we can show up for our own neighbors, our colleagues and peers, doing whatever we can to defend and protect their rights, and to let those in endangered populations, through real presence and action, know that we stand ready as allies, that we are truly there for and with them. We can’t cure world hunger, or solve homelessness, or rescue every child caught in domestic violence or fostercare. But we can work at food banks, distribute coats and blankets to the homeless, or come together to raise funds in support of domestic violence shelters.

I recently opened a small food bank in my office, so that any student who struggles with hunger on our campus can come in and be helped. When they show up in my office for food, I don’t ask their politics, don’t ask how they voted. In that moment, in my community, on the local level, politics don’t matter. In that moment, in my community, on the local level, I can make a real-world difference. And in that small act, both of us, the student helped, and I, can move a little more peacefully through the rest of our day.

Doing what we can, where we are, with what we have, to help—that’s what matters.

This is the heart of Writing for Peace, at the national and international level, and now, at the community level as well. So Writing for Peace chapters were born.

For anyone who is interested, or wants guidance, in starting a chapter, the Central Virginia Chapter stands ready to help in any way we can. For more information, check out our page on how to start a chapter here.

We hope that this inaugural chapter will inspire others to do the same, to come together to create Writing for Peace chapters across the country, across our beautiful planet.

This, we believe, is how real change happens. This is how we work together, boots on the ground, to make the world safer, kinder, more peaceful for all of us.

Mary Carroll-Hackett
Member, Central Virginia Chapter
Regional Chapter Liaison
Board Member, Writing for Peace

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

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Take Advantage of Our Donation Match Offer:

An anonymous donor has generously offered to match all donations up to $2500 during the month of December. This, coupled with our holiday Fundraising Special (below), means your contribution will go further and supplement more libraries than ever before!

5 books 2

Holiday Fundraising Special!
During the month of December, we will donate a complete five-volume set of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts to the public school library of your choice for every tax-deductible donation of $75 or more!

Our administration is board operated, and all members, board and advisers, work on a volunteer basis. 100% of contributions go to support our mission. Writing for Peace is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID Number, 45-2968027.

Ours is a simple mission with profound affect on the lives of our young writers:

Through education and creative writing, Writing for Peace seeks to cultivate the empathy that allows minds to open to new cultural views, to value the differences as well as the hopes and dreams that unite all of humanity, to develop a spirit of leadership and peaceful activism.

Donate now to take advantage of our special library offer and see your contribution doubled!

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

A World of Voices, by Vicki Lindner

Photo: New York City Dawn, By Hans Lienhart

A World of Voices

By Vicki Lindner

 

In May I flew to New York, my former hometown, for PEN America’s 2017 World Voices Festival, “Gender+Power.” Unlike most literary conferences, this one, founded after 9/11 by Salman Rushdie and others, focuses on international writers and combatting isolationism. This year, 200 writers from 40 countries were featured in the festival.

PEN defends unjustly imprisoned writers in countries that fear the power of the word—China, Africa, and Mexico. I’ve been a PEN member since 1982, when I worked with the Prison Committee, teaching writing to Sing Sing prisoners and judging an annual prison writing contest. PEN also sponsors prestigious book awards. Since the 2016 election, it sends members a daily update on political issues affecting freedom of expression.

The international festival was appropriate in a city teeming with immigrants (almost everyone has an accent) and foreign tourists. Every event was held in a bar, bookstore, or theater, like the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. Every panel was political, vociferously anti-Trump, and focused on identity politics, multicultural literature, sexual orientation and gender, with titles like “Unapologetically Afro Latina,”  “Identity in the Age of Globalization: An African Diasporic Perspective,” “Militancy and Sisterhood,” and “Queer Representation in the Media.” Most events featured international women writers, although some white Americans, like Marge Piercy, Jennifer Egan, and Vivian Gornick, were included. Straight white men could be glimpsed mostly in the packed audiences.

I never heard the word craft, though “how to” did come up in discussions about process, including self-editing. The panelists on “Badass Writers; Power and Truth” advocated letting the “real editor” take over, but one, who commented on white editors’ cultural blindness said, “Hey, if you don’t know what a quinceanera is, do your job! Google it!” Both Gabby Rivera, a feisty gay Latina who writes for Marvel comics, and Natalie Diaz, a Native poet at the University of Arizona (“I’m the go-to person when you need a Native to dance for all-white institutions.”) spoke about anxiety. Some eschewed Twitter for fear of encountering nasty Tweets. Gabby recommend Lexapro: “It made me a better person.”

I attended three events in the Housing Works Bookstore in Soho, my old neighborhood, where every product and service is donated to help homeless AIDS victims. (Free condoms at the counter.) On one panel, “Forbidden: Too Desirous,” on writing about women’s sexuality, glamorous Mona Eltahawy, the Egyptian author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, began by taking PEN to task for making her the panel’s only Muslim woman of color, saying that sex for African women is a vastly different issue. (I asked, “Where are the older women?”)

My favorite panel was a two-hour discussion of Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the New York mayor’s “read” for the city. The five Nigerians and one African American revealed fascinating material about their lives and views as they related personally to Adichie’s themes, creating a new, inspiring drama.

PEN World Voices is usually held in May. Most events were free, though advance tickets are recommended. You don’t have to join PEN to attend, but PEN offers memberships for writers, readers, and students from $125 to $25.  A good cause!

This essay was previously published in the Lighthouse Writers Workshop Blog and reprinted by permission of the author.

vicki Lindner (3)Writing for Peace Adviser and Lighthouse instructor Vicki Lindner is a writer whose work has appeared in the Paris Review, Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares. Learn more about her work here.

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Writing for Peace Welcomes John Holley to Board of Directors

John Holley crop3John Holley’s fiction has appeared in Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Fast Forward, The Barcelona Review, Expressions, and received honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s very short fiction contest. His non-fiction was a regular feature in the Casper Star Tribune and the Sol Day News. John lives in Denver, and is a graduate of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop inaugural Book Project.

 

2017 DoveTales, “Refugees and the Displaced” Now Available

2017 Front CoverThe fifth edition of our annual literary journal, DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, will be shipped on May 1st. Our “Refugees and the Displaced” themed DoveTales is a timely affront to a status quo comfortable with the suffering of others. With contributors from every continent on the planet except Antarctica (we’re working on that), this is a book that is meant to challenge assumptions and explore issues of peace, social justice, and our responsibility to our fellow man. Cover art is by Canadian artist, Allen Forrest. You can purchase your copy here.

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Seated Figure, by Sam Hamill

habitation

Seated Figure

It is a long way from there to here.
It is longer than all the roads of exile,
longer even than the silence of the heron.
The landscapes changed. Someone
numbered the dead, someone mapped the pain.

Once, they say, the animals came to us,
and licked our palms for the salt,
and looked at us with huge knowing eyes,
then turned and left
alone. And entered Paradise.

 

(Previously published in Habitation: Collected Poems, Lost Horse Press, 2014)

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill, black background 1Sam Hamill was born in 1943 and grew up on a Utah farm. He is Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press and served as Editor there for thirty-two years. He taught in artist-in-residency programs in schools and prisons and worked with Domestic Violence programs. He was the founding editor of Copper Canyon Press, directed the Port Townsend Writers Conference for nine years, and in 2003, founded Poets Against the War. He is the author of more than forty books, including celebrated translations from ancient Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Latin.

Learn more about his work here.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Two Poems by D.M. Aderibigbe

AUGUST VISITORS

We ran that night when they arrived.
The ground wet with August’s breath.

We ran from Zuba Hall down
to the hillside, following the back

of Uncle Usmanu’s bald head.
The principal’s wife ran, her first son

strapped to her chest in a pouch
like a Mother Kangaroo.

Nne, the paralytic girl
ran with her hands—leaping

after us like a frog.
At the hillside: our breaths smelled

of relief. Soon, gunshots became
nearby neighbours. Some of us

who were already dead jumped
into the next river. Those who lived

ran and ran into the mouths
of the visitors’ guns.

 

(Previously published in Burntdistrict)

 


ETYMOLOGY OF HOPE

After Dante, after Robert Pinsky

Soon, the sun slipped into a grey quilt
above and the street began to vaporize:
skidding cars, passers-by, even the silt

beneath our bums fell asleep. We’d rise
and talk and talk and walk from road to road.
The night folding itself into our eyes.

We’d talk and walk. A church loomed: my friend, bold
like a child around a parent, led me
in. On the floor, we fed our dreams to cold

sweeping across the church. It was sunny
when we opened our eyes to a woman
in a white robe. Dangling in her left hand, key

to the car she drove us with to a can-
teen, where wraps of Eba and Ewedu soup,
seeds of joy dropping in our stomach. A can

of Coca-Cola in my left hand, I stooped
in respect with my right. My friend did
the same. The woman smiled, her head dropped,

as a mark of respect. Goodbye, we would bid.
She, agape, how hope-filled were these hopeless kids

 

(Previously published in Drunken Boat)

About Writing for Peace Adviser D.M Aderibigbe

DamilolaD.M. Aderibigbe is from Nigeria and came to the US for graduate studies in 2015 and earned his MFA in creative writing from Boston University as a BU Fellow and also received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship. His chapbook is In Praise of Our Absent Father. He knows God loves you.

D.M. Aderibigbe is a Writing for Peace Adviser and was a Keynote Speaker at our 2016 Youth Summit. You can view his powerful address here:

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.