Category Archives: Advisory Panel Contributors

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.

 

 

Near rebellion, By Djelloul Marbrook

Djelloul Marbrook, Near rebellion
Near rebellion
We’re born to pass through walls
unmuddled by geometries,
to crumple dimensions in our pockets,
paint imaginings in the air,
born to rip persuasion
from our faces, to know
our parents speak in fear.
In which dream do we sleep,
day too staged to trust, or night
where we’ve seen everything before?
Heaven is as we remember it.
We’re not strangers anywhere.
We’re lost among derangements,
but wind bears the scent of home.
Morning is always unfamiliar.
We must relearn each object’s nap.
Sometimes we can’t remember
the ways in which we’re bent,
waiting for the image in the mirror
to evaporate, hoping to return
to an original condition
sparkling restive in our marrow.
In so many eyes elixir, why
unnatural wont to turn away
and why in the grace of deja vu
are we in the way of ourselves?
If you tied your shoes together
you’d get around no worse
than grabbing a cab and thinking
you’re actually getting somewhere.
The awareness of a puma,
translucence of a leaf.
I remember huddled atoms
in a Macedonian shield,
near rebellion in Baybars’ sword,
nothing too exquisite to bear.
Then I remember to pretend
I’m going to be buried here.
“Near Rebellion” was first published by Arabesques in 2005 and then republished in several online journals, including Occupy Poetry.

About Writing for Peace Adviser Djelloul Marbrook

djelloul-marbrook leaning“Our poetry, our fiction, our art is the news of our society, not the fog that a handful of oligarchs call the news. War means profit to these oligarchs. How to smash this lock on the way we view conflict? First, writers must be conscious of their role as rogue operatives. They must subvert the propaganda machine that conceals the real purpose of war in geopolitical blather. We have examples of this—the scriptwriters of the films The International and Lord of War. They showed us that war is a racket, like insider trading.”  ~Djelloul Marbrook

Djelloul Marbrook is the author of three 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), and Brash Ice (2014, Leaky Boot Press, UK). His poems have been published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Taos Poetry Journal, Orbis (UK), From the Fishouse, Oberon, The Same, Reed, Fledgling Rag, Poets Against the War, Poemeleon, Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, Atticus Review, Deep Water Literary Journal, and Daylight Burglary, among others. He is also the author of five books of fiction: Mean Bastards Making Nice (2014, Leaky Boot Press, UK), Guest Boy (2012, Mira Publishing House CLC, Leeds, UK), Saraceno (2012, Bliss Plot Press, NY), Artemisia’s Wolf (2011, Prakash Books, India), and Alice Miller’s Room (1999, OnlineOriginals.com, UK). He won the 2008 Literal Latté fiction prize for “Artists Hill” (http://www.literal-latte.com/2008/11/artists-hill/), an excerpt from Crowds of One, Book 2 in the Guest Boy trilogy, forthcoming in 2015 from Mira). His short fiction publishers include Literal Latté, Orbis (UK), Breakfast All Day (UK), Prima Materia (NY) and Potomac Review (MD). He serves on Four Quarters Magazine’s poetry peer review board and maintains a lively Facebook and Twitter presence. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley with his wife Marilyn. Learn more about his work here.

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Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“Raise the flag for West Papua today!”

December 1st – Is More Than A Flag-Raising Day, By Herman Wainggai!

 

 

Copyright © 2015 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 The Night I Heard Everything, by Mary Carroll-Hackett

 

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Poems from The Night I Heard Everything

By Mary Carroll-Hackett

 

She Gave Her Meat and Milk

to her children, for years, claiming to be a vegetarian, her portions of each meal steaming on their plates, any extra, carcass picked clean with her mother’s fingers, pulled from the bony chicken bought carefully on sale at Food Lion, the cold white sweetness in their glasses, the brown earthiness of tough stew beef simmered tender with onion gravy—they ate what was hers, and they grew. She smiled at the milk mustaching their little mouths, the clanging music of forks hitting plates, and ate her own bowl of beans, greens grown in the garden she kept, rice to fill the same space beneath her ribs where once these babies—now children, now adults–had swam. She ate whatever remained, every bite a prayer they never heard her say.

 

Dirty Feet

and dirty fingernails, angels, ten thousand of them, living in trailers, canned angels, holy meat, languishing in the Carolina heat, driving up from Kinston, and Shelby, and Bear Grass, and Calico, driving in the vans they bought second hand at Car Coop, headed to the ocean, to Buxton, to Avon, to Duck, for a day, for a week, seeking some sun, and some water. Wings tucked into tank tops, t-shirts from Walmart, glittered with sayings like Hot Stuff, Daddy’s Girl, and Talk to the Hand. They dig angel toes into the hot sand, and pray over pimento cheese sandwiches, and pickles and Tupperware pitchers of tea. On the best days, they run into the sea, hugging their dirty-faced babies close, then holding them up to the wide white sky, whispering in ten thousand languages: Remember, no matter what they say, you can fly.

 

In Lousiana, They Say Not to Plant

on Good Friday, that blood will run from the cold ground, but Miss Pearl, my mountain grandmother, believed otherwise, believed that any seed planted that day would thrive. Her gnarled fingers clawed at the clay outside the cinderblock house she and Pap built in their sixties, the block painted as pale green as the peas she set to climb on sticks, on poles, on whatever she scruffed up into the garden. Peas and potatoes dug into the that hillside in Nebo, later when it warmed, tomatoes and okra, some soft-faced petunias, touching their velvet bodies with her cotton-picking scarred hands. But not beans, she planted no more beans after that winter my mama was twelve and Pap had run off and not come back for that long cold time, leaving her with a tribe of children to feed on nothing but the beans she’d scratched from the garden the summer before, and canned, stacked on shelves, on the floor, jar after jar green in the weak light from the window.

Years later, in the slow places all lives go, in the soft twilight of her dementia, where no matter what he’d done or that he was gone, she still hunted for Pap, this time between the night hallways and the doors my mama kept locked—to keep her from safe from wandering—in those waning days without calendars to consult, without schedules to turn to, she still knew it was Good Friday, still scrambled from her bed, still called for my mama to Come on git to the garden, where there were seeds to planted, needs to be tended, souls to be fed.

 

The Skin Project

involves yours, and mine, lined and curved and carrying all that we have managed to survive, fifty lifetimes in fold and lip, teeth like tines against hip, lavender ankle, tangle of feet, no longer choosing, simply following my finger to trace the line of your cheek, your hand losing its path, bent knee, the laughter of thighs, the sigh of my belly. You whisper into my ribs, wait for the echo, I know what you want me to speak—This, this is the way. Put your head on my chest and listen to what my heart says. We both know bones to be brighter in winter, lips and kiss an entirety, words we couldn’t know when we were young pass forth to tongue, go toward—not back—this ancient act, this searching for forms of fire.

 

What Hands Do After a Death–

they forget. Her hands didn’t know anymore. Nothing other than the bean pods, planted outside the door, the leathery switch and hang of shell and seed, her hands didn’t know themselves, knew only the snap and swing of vining things, beans like leather britches, sewn together and hung, like the old women had shown her. Her hands had always known, as had her feet, the fold of towels, the path back home, the perfect curve of cursive vowels the nuns demanded, the subtle stitch of crewel and needle pulled, the three-strand braid—all now unsprung. Now her hands dropped and wrung and slapped and stung, the drinking glass shattered to shard on hard cold tile, the thread in knots, ink shot across the page in hieroglyphs, ancient outlines of hurt. Only dirt made sense, the growth and give, then decay of seeds, her hands needing to dig, until a proper hole was made, so that something, anything, might live.

 

How to Save the World, and Ourselves

When the name of a place is a bird, when the bird is a song, when the song is a prayer, when the prayer is a footstep, when the footstep is a drum, when the drum is a womb, thundering open, giving birth to a sky so wide that even the stars chase across it, falling, calling out to each other, we can save it, we can, if we just remember.

 

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser Mary Carroll-Hackett

Mary Carroll-Hackett, Writing for Peace Adviser2Mary Carroll-Hackett earned degrees in Philosophy, Anthropology, and Creative Writing from East Carolina University, then the MFA from Bennington College. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in more than a hundred journals including Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, PedestalMagazine, Superstition Review, Drunken Boat, and The Prose-Poem Project, among others. She was named a North Carolina Blumenthal Writer and winner of the Willamette Award for Fiction. Her chapbook Animal Soulwas released in 2012 from Kattywompus Press, and a full-length collection, If We Could Know Our Bones, from A-Minor Press in January 2014. Another full collection was released in March 2015, The Night I Heard Everything,from FutureCycle Press. Another chapbook, Trailer ParkOracle, is forthcoming from Aldrich Press in November 2015. She has taught writing for twenty years, and in 2003, founded the Creative Writing programs, undergraduate and graduate, at Longwood University in Farmville, VA, serving as Program Director of those programs until Fall 2011. She also founded and edited for ten years The Dos Passos Review, launching Briery Creek Press, and The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry. Recently, she also joined the low-residency faculty for the MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan. Mary is at work on a memoir.

The Night I Heard Everything is available here, from FutureCycle Press.

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Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserUpdate From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

“We are at a crossroads to either a future of global corporate governance or a chance for democracy. As Chris Hedges writes in his new book, “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” a revolution is coming but we can’t guarantee which way it will go. Will you be there to fight for justice? You have an opportunity to do that now.”

Read Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese latest article at Popular Resistance.

 

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.

 

 

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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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!

Copyright © 2015 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Staunching Wounds, By Richard Krawiec

 

antonio-rotta-helping-hands-approximate-original-size-24x30Staunching Wounds

By Richard Krawiec

 

Recently I met with a group of women who had suffered terrible transgressions and losses in their lives from an early age. Deaths of loved ones, violent rape and abuse, humiliations by friends and abandonment to strangers.

We all know the clichéd responses to this, right? When life gives you lemons…put it behind you and move on…etc.etc.

But I think there is something ultimately dismissive in failing to recognize that sometimes we suffer damage we can’t get beyond. Sometimes we suffer damage that creates a wound so deep it will not heal. We can learn to live through it, we can try to accommodate it, to go forward despite the wound – but the wound remains. It’s what is meant by the term ‘survivor’ I think. The person who knows what happened can’t be ignored, or changed, but has found a way to live past without denying the damage.

Many of us have things happen to us that are difficult to move on from. I had a girlfriend who was haunted by the memory of watching her father die on their kitchen floor, begging God not to take him from his family. I can’t seem to get past my best friend as a child growing into an estranged teenager who blew his brains out with a shotgun; I’m still haunted by memories of the time I walked out of a Juvenile Court in Pittsburgh without the 5-year-old girl who was returned, by the courts, to her sexually abusive father.

I know these incidents pale in comparison to what others have to deal with. I didn’t survive the concentration camps. I wasn’t a child growing up in war-torn Gaza. No gang of soldiers raped me in a tent. I wasn’t that girl, that friend.

So it always feels childish, whiny to admit these things still create a profound sorrow in me when I think about them. But we don’t choose our damage, and to a large extent we don’t choose, at least initially, our ability, or inability, to deal with the traumas of our lives. Aren’t our ways of response to at least some extent conditioned by those around us, especially those around us when we were growing up?

On another thread a woman speaks about visiting her father in the hospital and holding his hand, like she used to when she was a child. I can’t remember ever holding my father’s hand. He wasn’t a cruel or abusive man, but he wasn’t attentive in that way.

When friends died in high school – from hanging, drug overdose, leukemia – I don’t remember any of our parents offering support, advice, condolences or ways to deal with the loss to those of us who remained.

When you don’t have a way to deal with a wound, it remains unstaunched. People find different ways, not so much to move forward as to cover it up, to bandage pain with sex, drugs, violence. Because they don’t know how, or aren’t allowed, to look at it. Just put it aside, we’re counseled, forget about it, so you can become a productive member of society again. It’s a type of cultural denial, isn’t it? But what do people do when they can’t. Well there is the previously mentioned trinity –drugs, sex, violence. But there are other ways for people who can’t articulate but somehow know their concerns aren’t being addressed.

Some people turn to writing, others to song, painting, dance. Because nothing offers a better path into the interior, a more honest and unflinching way to look at what has happened, as well as a better vision of new paths out of that darkness, than art. I think it was Springsteen who once said the best part of him existed in his songs. In real life he could be a mess. I know that feeling. God, do I know it.

But the point is, art offers us the potential to examine the past and an array of paths – spiritual, moral, ethical, philosophical, psychological – that can lead to a future full of what, in another context, David Brooks calls “the eulogy virtues”.

I never thought I’d say Conservative columnist David Brooks wrote a probing piece -but there it is. In today’s NYT, Brooks talks about something that resonates with what I’m thinking about here. He discusses how we live in an age of self-absorption; we are told to be individualists, “be true to yourself…follow your own path.” It’s easy, Brooks says, “to slip into self-satisfied moral mediocrity.”

And he contrasts this with those whose lives had followed a pattern of “defeat, recognition, redemption. They have moments of pain and suffering. But they turn those moments into occasions of radical self-understanding…The people on this road see the moments of suffering as pieces of a larger narrative.”

What’s the connection with this and damage? I guess that what I’m trying to say is this – the culture that says take an anti-depressant when your loved one dies so you can obscure your pain is not a culture that accepts damage. Damage is distasteful, unpleasant, not something we want to discuss. Let’s all get beyond it as quickly as possible so we can go out and have fun.

And if you don’t? Why isn’t there something wrong with you?

Because if we really, truly looked closely at the damage people endured, and it’s long-lasting effect on them, wouldn’t we have to do something to help?

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser Richard Krawiec

Richard KrawiecRichard Krawiec is the founder of Jacar Press, A Community active Press dedicated to paying writers and working in under-served communities and has worked extensively with people in homeless shelters, women’s shelters, prisons, literacy classes, and community sites, teaching writing. Richard’s second book of poems, She Hands me the Razor, (title poem nominated for a Pushcart Prize) was published by Press 53. It was one of 17 finalists for a SIBA Award. His latest collection is Women Who Loved Me Despite (Press 53).  To learn more about Richard Krawiec, check out his page here.

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Meet Malaka Mohammed, Writing for Peace Young Adviser

Malaka Mohammed, Writing for Peace AdviserAs a Palestinian, peace for me is the the end of Israeli policies of the occupation of our historical lands, ethnic cleansing, colonization, and racial discrimination that have been continuously condemned by human rights and international law organizations, yet Israel chooses to ignore all these calls with full impunity. Peace is by putting so much pressure on this settler colonial state to abide by human rights and international law. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is one of the tactics that has proved its success to tell Israel that you’re no more impune; the world is watching and looking for a peaceful Globe. I use writing as a way to raise awareness and to express myself. It is good to have approachable platforms that one can use to reach a large number of audience around the world.

~Malaka Mohammed, Writing for Peace Young Adviser

Malaka Mohammed is a Palestinian activist, freelance writer living in Sheffield, and our newest member of the Writing for Peace Young Adviser’s Panel. A powerful voice for peace and justice, Malaka graduated with a BA in English literature from the Islamic University of Gaza and a MA in global politics and law from the University of Sheffield in Britain. Read Malaka’s articles on Huffington post here.

Activism Update From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserBeyond Extreme Energy: Uniting to Retire Fossil Fuels

Clearing the FOG speaks with activists from Washington State to Washington, DC who are taking on Big Energy to say “no” to more fossil fuel infrastructure. We begin with four organizers who walked across the United States last year to raise awareness about the climate crisis. They visited front line communities along the way. When they arrived in Washington, DC, they spent a week protesting the little known Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of the Beyond Extreme Energy coalition. Now they are planning more resistance. In Washington State, the “SHell No” campaign is organizing a Flotilla to keep Shell Oil out of the Port of Seattle. We’ll discuss why direct action is the necessary tactic to end fossil fuels and move to renewable energy sources.

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!

 

Copyright © 2015 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

How to Become a Revolutionary Icon, By Lyla June Johnston

Young Diné women prepare for “Nihígaal Bee Iiná: Our Journey for Existence.” To assist with the group’s crowdfunding campaign visit: http://igg.me/p/1055200/x. Photo Courtesy Colleen Cooley

Young Diné women prepare for “Nihígaal Bee Iiná: Our Journey for Existence.” The group will embark on a 200-mile trek through western New Mexico—a tribute to the 150th anniversary of the tragic “Long Walk.” To assist with the group’s crowdfunding campaign visit: http://igg.me/p/1055200/x. Photo Courtesy Colleen Cooley.

How to Become a Revolutionary Icon

By Lyla June Johnston

1. Speak your truth aloud
2. Say it with love and humility
3. Ignore the thousands of people (including yourself) who will tell you that you’re unworthy of bringing this message
4. Repeat
……………………………………
I look at some of these young warriors like Nahko Bear, Ta’kaiya Blaney, Xiutezcatl Martinez, and others who are so sought after for their presence and their words. They are no different from anyone else. They are simply willing to stand up and speak light into the darkness, brazenly, at the risk of seeming overly idealistic or arrogant. This is not idealism, this is the truth that our child-selves saw so clearly but did not have space to express. This is not arrogance, this is the deliverance of nourishment to a world starving for truth. I was blessed to learn that I CAN speak in a society that expects and rewards silence.
……………………………………
I remember once at Stanford I came to my poetry collective with a poem that loudly professed my allegiance to unity and love. My entire team laughed at me and said they would not partake in the group performance I had sketched out. The tagline was, “WE WANT YOU FREE!” I guess it was too corny for them… But when I have the courage to say these things to the crowd something happens in their hearts. The rumbling of my voice, the clarity and conviction of the message, awakens dormant volcanos within them that have been waiting, silently, patiently, for years to erupt. Once I am finished they burst with applause and rise for the standing ovation. I know in my heart they are not cheering for me. They are cheering because, finally, the sleeping wolf has arisen within them. The wolf that sits in its conformist cage. The wolf that begs to howl this truth into the dark night with all its might but is not allowed to by societal norms. They are cheering for the Love that has triumphed, the Truth that has overcome all obstacles set before it. They are cheering for Creator, that Her message has finally been released, that it has finally breeched the walls Iktomi has built all around us. Walls meant to distract us from the ever-present, ever-shining, ever-true reality that we are free, we are love, we are loved and we hold the very breath of the Creator within our lungs and in our veins. This is the beauty our child-selves knew we were born for. This is the beauty we are all able to hold again. If we only have the courage, to step forward and… speak.

About Writing for Peace Young Adviser Lyla June Johnston

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a 24 year-old 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. After studying Human Ecology at Stanford University, Lyla founded Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration and honoring of children and young adults worldwide. She plans on attending Harvard Business School to obtain the platform she needs to disarm the private sector and repurpose the capitalist infrastructure for healing and social change. Her ancestors are Diné and Cheyenne and it is from this ancestral worldview that she derives her visions for helping to create a culture of peace and generosity. Learn more about Lyla’s work here.

 

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BREAKING NEWS:

Young Navajo Stage 200-Mile Trek for Cultural Survival

Young Diné women prepare for “Nihígaal Bee Iiná: Our Journey for Existence.” To assist with the group’s crowdfunding campaign visit: http://igg.me/p/1055200/x. Photo Courtesy Colleen Cooley

(Photo Courtesy Colleen Cooley.)

By Writing for Peace Adviser, Lyla June Johnston

HUERFANO, New Mex.- At dawn on January 6th 2015 a group of young Diné (Navajo) women and their supporters will gather at a fire department near the base of Dził Na’oodiłii (Huerfano Mountain). From there the group will embark on a 200-mile trek through western New Mexico—a tribute to the 150th anniversary of the tragic “Long Walk.” Throughout this journey they intend to raise awareness about historical and present day challenges faced by Diné people and inspire hopeful solutions to address these issues.

Organizers are calling out for community support in the form of walking, hosting or helping to garner basic materials. This first journey will end at Tsoodził (Mount Taylor), their southern sacred mountain. Three more walks are scheduled for spring, summer and fall so that each of their four sacred mountains is visited. The walkers intend to cover over 1000 miles in 2015.

The commemorated event occurred in 1864 when Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson—under the command of General James Carleton—enforced a merciless, scorched earth policy to bring Diné people into submission. During this time nearly 9,000 Diné and 500 Mescalero Apache men, women, children and elderlies were marched at gunpoint for 300 miles to a small patch of arid land known as Bosque Redondo, New Mexico. Many perished along the way.

During their four-year internment at this reservation “experiment”—known in Diné as Hwééldi or “the place of suffering”—hundreds died due to starvation, illness and physical violence. In 1868, high costs of rations and soldier commissions caused the federal government to disband the experiment and release them back to Diné Tah, the Navajo homeland.

“We are walking to honor the resiliency of our ancestors who 150 years ago were forced to march hundreds of miles in the dead of winter on a genocidal death march,” says Dana Eldridge, one of several female organizers of the walk. “They sacrificed and suffered so much so that we could live within these four sacred mountains. So we’re walking to honor them.”

According to the organizers, the walk is not simply a re-enactment of The Long Walk, but their return to a traditional lifestyle.

“It’s something that people don’t do anymore. We have the convenience of vehicles. But walking an entire journey is something that’s revolutionary in a way,” says young organizer Nick Ashley of Gallup, New Mexico.

“Our ancestors walked so that we could be here on our homeland singing, dancing and praying the songs they did. But now everyone is chasing the American Dream and neglecting our homeland, our language and way of life,” says Kimberly Smith of St. Michaels, Arizona.

Several Diné elders, including Larry W. Emerson, think present day problems might be due to “an abandonment of self.”

“One purpose of the walk might be for us to come back into ourselves via our traditional knowledge—into our homes, families, relations, communities and earth-sky knowing. Ké and k’é hwiindzin—to be conscious of our interdependent relationships based on compassion, love, and nurturing—are vital to our survival and we cannot come home to ourselves without these vital teachings. [We] offered several teachings [to the walkers] that might address the practice of coming home to ourselves, including some prayer songs.”

According to organizers, land-based prayer is an important part of their journey. “Everything we do is a prayer to return to our original selves,” says Laura Red Elk of Pueblo Pintado, New Mexico. “The mountains were our original naat’áanii [leaders] before IRA governments or the tribal council. Since our government is failing to protect us, we are returning to our original leadership by letting the mountains determine how we walk on the land.”

Organizers and their elders have chosen to name their movement as “Nihígaal Bee Iiná” or “Our Journey for Existence.” Due to the widespread presence of uranium, coal and gas extraction throughout Diné Tah,organizers feel that their environmental situation has reached a boiling point.

“One hundred and fifty years ago our ancestors stared their extinction in the face. And today, we young people are staring our extinction in the face. Our home will become an unlivable toxic wasteland if nothing is done,” says Eldridge.

According to the EPA, nearly 4 million tons of uranium have been extracted from Diné Tah since 1944. With over 500 abandoned uranium mines throughout the region, both homes and water sources are contaminated with high levels of radiation.

Additionally, over 20,000 tons of coal are strip-mined from Diné and Hopi lands every day by Peabody Coal Company alone. This coal feeds Navajo Generating Station, rated by the EPA as the highest emitter of toxic nitrous oxide in the country.

Organizers forecast that the next major threat is the onset of a boom in oil and natural gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing—a process now banned in the state of New York.

Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network in Alberta, Canada, says that resource extraction is not only a threat to the environment: “Some of the highest rates of missing and murdered women are in the tar-sands extraction areas. This is related to worker’s camps and the lack of jurisdictional protection for women on tribal lands.” Organizers state that the heavy presence of extractive industries is having a similar effect on Diné women.

“We give life and we nurture life just like the land does. Our traditional leadership structure is matrilineal because we are the spinal chord of society, the first teachers of the children. We are journeying back to our original selves including our responsibility as women to protect the land and take care of it,” says Red Elk.

“It’s all the more reason for this walk to be led by majority women. As traditional caretakers of the land, their physical presence is in and of itself a resistance to resource extraction,” comments Konsmo.

Weekly paychecks for Diné miners and generator operators are a constant reminder of their economic dependence on the fossil fuel industry. Walkers hope to raise awareness about self-sufficiency as an alternative to the extraction economy. They will disperse heirloom corn seeds to communities along the way and speak on the importance of food sovereignty and self-reliance.

“We are being told to invest in our own destruction in the name of the economy,” says Eldridge. “People say we need these jobs, but we don’t. To take care of ourselves it will take a tremendous amount of work, but it is a beautiful dream and it is so possible.”

Organizers are urging others to join them, especially Diné people, for all or part of the walk.

Smith encapsulates the spirit of the walk by saying, “We have to go back to where the wisdom is embedded. We have to reintroduce ourselves to those places. It is our inherent right and responsibility. The uplifting that our people need is there. We want to bring it back for our people, we want to honor our elders, our children and most importantly, we want to honor the earth.”

For more information on “Our Journey for Existence,” contact nihigaalbeeiina@gmail.com. To assist with the group’s crowdfunding campaign visit: http://igg.me/p/1055200/x

Enter the 2015 Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest 

Writing for Peace dreamerThe deadline is March 1st, so time to get serious about polishing your entry! Go to www.writingforpeace.org to meet our previous winners and learn about our prestigious panel of judges: Antonya Nelson, fiction; Stephen Kuusisto, poetry; and Steve Almond, nonfiction. Read the full guidelines here. Teachers who would like to receive a free pdf version of our DoveTales journals to share with their students may request copies at editor@writingforpeace.org.

DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, is currently accepting fiction, essays, poetry and art submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition. Deadline is January 15th. Read our guidelines and submit here.

Copyright © 2015 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

Writing for Peace, By Wang Ping

Writing for Peace Adviser Wang PingWriting for Peace

By Wang Ping

“Without poetry, how can we live?” said Confucius to his son, who whined about having to study and write poetry every day.

Why do we write? What’s the need to write? What’s the meaning of writing?

For me, it’s the condition to be alive, after the basic needs for food and shelter are met: to be alive as a human, a conscious, conscientious being. It marks me as a person aware of who I am, why I am, how I am, and what connects me to the world outside my consciousness.

Writing is our daily mirror: we face our beauty and shadows up close, no shame or fear, no judgment or grandiose.

Words can hurt and kill. They also soothe and heal. We are warriors who bring peace, unity and joy together through poetry, stories, and memories.

When we write poetry, we are on the highest level of consciousness and joy. Our brain becomes the quantum field where anything everything is possible, where we step into the two rivers at the same time, where magic is a norm.

We are ambassadors of joy. We are messengers of harmony. We are warriors of peace.

About Writing for Peace Adviser Wang Ping

Writing for Peace Adviser Wang PingWang Ping was born in Shanghai and came to USA in 1986. She is the founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project, a five-year project that builds a sense of kinship among the people who live along the Mississippi and Yangtze Rivers through exchanging gifts of art, poetry, stories, music, dance and food. She paddles along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, giving poetry and art workshops along the river communities, making thousands of flags as gifts and peace ambassadors between the Mississippi and the Yangtze Rivers.

Her publications include Ten Thousand Waves, poetry book from Wings Press, 2014, American Visa (short stories, 1994), Foreign Devil (novel, 1996), Of Flesh and Spirit (poetry, 1998), The Magic Whip (poetry, 2003), The Last Communist Virgin (stories, 2007), all from Coffee House, New Generation: Poetry from China Today, 1999 from Hanging Loose Press, Flash Cards: Poems by Yu Jian, co-translation with Ron Padgett, 2010 from Zephyr Press. Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (2000, University of Minnesota Press, 2002 paperback by Random House) won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities. The Last Communist Virgin won 2008 Minnesota Book Award and Asian American Studies Award. Learn more about her work here.

 

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Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserNewsletter – 2014 In Review

Stay abreast of Climate Change, Net Neutrality, and human rights activism, and learn where you can make a difference.

Support Writing for Peace

ShalomSalamPeaceIsraelisPalestiniansWriting for Peace is  a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Contributions go directly towards publishing, shipping DoveTales journals and participation certificates to our contributors and young writers in 24 countries, and providing modest prizes to our contest winners. We hope you will join the generous contributors who make Writing for Peace possible. Make your tax-deductible donation today.

Enter Our 2015 Young Writers Contest 

Writing for Peace dreamerYoung Writers Contest entries are beginning to pour in from all over the world. Go to www.writingforpeace.org to meet our previous winners and learn about our prestigious panel of judges: Antonya Nelson, fiction; Stephen Kuusisto, poetry; and Steve Almond, nonfiction. Read the full guidelines here. Teachers who would like to receive a free pdf version of our DoveTales journals to share with their students may request copies at editor@writingforpeace.org.

DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, is currently accepting fiction, essays, poetry and art submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition. Deadline is January 15th. Read our guidelines and submit here.

DoveTales Now Available In PDF Format

Writing for Peace supporters can now enjoy our beautiful journals in PDF format. Our 2013 “Occupy” and 2014 “Contrast” editions are now available for just $4.99.

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013“Occupied” 2013

Book Description: A full color journal, featuring poetry, essays, and fiction from established and emerging writers, as well as art and photography. Writers and artists explored the many definitions of the “Occupied” theme in brilliant and unexpected ways.

Contributors include: Andrea W. Doray, Kim Goldberg, Veronica Golos, Nancy Aidé González, Sam Hamill, Denny Hoffman, Michael Lee Johnson, Adam Jones, Ron Koppelberger, Paula Dawn Lietz, Paul Lindholt, Cory Lockhart, Shannon K. Lockhart, Ellen Meeropol, Mark A. Murphy, Tricia Orr, Kenneth Pobo, Manual A. López, Linda Quennec, Nausheen Rajan, Shirani Rajapakse, April Salzano, Nizar Sartawi, Laura Solomon,John Stocks, Julie Stuckey, Samantha Peters Terrell, Richard Vargas; 2012 Young Writers Fiction Contest Winners: Shadia Farah, 1st Place; Caroline Nawrocki, 2nd Place; Tait Rutherford, 3rd Place

2014 DoveTales, "Contrast" Edition“Contrast” 2014

DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, 2014 “Contrast” edition features poetry, essays, and short stories from our 2013 Young Contest Winners, as well as established and emerging writers, and strikingly beautiful black and white photography from our Artist-in-Residence, Paula Dawn Lietz.

Contributors: Jordi Alonso, Cassandra Arnold, Maggie Bàra, Henry Braun, Lorraine Caputo, William Cass, Lorraine Currelley, Colin Dodds, John Garmon, Diane Giardi, Mark Goad, Veronica Golos, Sam Hamill, Dawnell Harrison, D. Iasevoli, Ed.D, Allan M. Jalon, Shelley Kahn, Richard Krawiec, Paula Dawn Lietz, Cory Lockhart, Shannon K. Lockhart, Veronica Marshall, Sandra McGarry, Iwona Partyka, Sy Roth, Andrew Sacks, Carol Smallwood, Julia Stein, Samantha Peters Terrell, Bänoo Zan; 2013 Young Writers Contest Winners: Fiction: Jordan Dalton, 1st; Nneoma Ike-Njoku, 2nd; Kasturi Pananjady, 3rd Nonfiction: Paean Yeo, 1st; Janani Venkatesh, 2nd;  Vienna Schmitter-Schrier, 3rd Poetry: Jessica Metzger, 1st; Peter LaBerge, 2nd; Janani Venkatesh, 3rd

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.