Category Archives: Andrea W. Doray

One thing we know for sure: This should not have happened by Andrea W. Doray

President’s Corner:

One thing we know for sure: This should not have happened

by Andrea W. Doray

 

Andrea_final--2 (2)Sunday, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and wounded more than 500 more. The details – all the sad, heart wrenching, uplifting, horrifying, miraculous, grisly, and even inspiring details – are yet to be known, but one thing we know for certain: This should not have happened.

Something else we know for sure is that this tragedy will reignite the controversy over gun control in the United States. Despite the success of gun control in some countries, and the complete ban of firearms in others, there is a mulish resistance by some sectors of American government – and in our society – who refuse to acknowledge that there is even a problem, much less a solution.

I spent some time in 2010 volunteering with the U.S. Peace Corps in Turkmenistan, a regime second in repression only to North Korea. I personally was followed by the KNB, the Turkmen version of the KGB, and one of the young women I trained with was rousted out of bed in her host family’s home in the middle of the night, for no reason that we ever ascertained. No one else in the village would take her in because they feared the displeasure of these secret police. Fortunately, she connected with another Peace Corps volunteer in the area who was able to help her.

I mention this because the good and kind people of Turkmenistan were completely at the mercy of the whims of their dictatorial government. And although I had previously believed that this could never happen in the U.S., after the 2016 presidential election, I now conclude that anything is possible. The darkest parts of world history are finding a way to replay in America, from Hitleresque demonization of an entire faith to the benighted beliefs of KKK white supremacism.

I believe in the Founding Fathers’ vision of the rights of American citizens to bear arms, if for no other reason than to ultimately prevent the types of oppression I witnessed in Turkmenistan. But, like all rights, this one must be balanced with the good of the citizenry at large. For example, hate speech is not protected as free speech. Freedom of religion does not extend to so-called cults that break the law. And the right to bear arms needs the balance of sensible minds on all sides coming together to craft policies that honor the intent of the 2nd Amendment as well as protect the people of America from the horrors of a Las Vegas-style massacre.

There are no easy answers for such a complex problem. All that I ask is a recognition by those in government that there is a problem, and a willingness to do the hard work of finding a solution.

In this space, I echo the sentiments of Chris Murphy reacting to the Las Vegas shootings, now a Connecticut senator, who represented the House district that includes Newtown, Connecticut, when 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School: “… the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference.”

I urge us all to engage in civil dialogue about this most critical issue. And that’s how I see it from my little corner of the world.

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Statement from Writing for Peace:

On behalf of the board of directors, advisors, and supporters of Writing for Peace, I offer our most heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to those who lost loved ones in the senseless violence last night in Las Vegas. May you find peace and some measure of comfort in the days ahead.

To those who were wounded in this chaos, we send love and best wishes for your quick recoveries, physically, mentally, spiritually.

To the police, fire departments, and first responders, the medical and emergency providers, the venue personnel, and the Las Vegas community, we thank you.

To the regular ordinary people who reached out to their fellow human beings — staying with the wounded on the concert lawn, helping others over the venue fences, holding the dying in their arms — you are our heroes.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, it is normal for us all to turn to one another for comfort, to try to speak the unspeakable, to try to understand what we often cannot even comprehend.

Writing for Peace, clearly, stands against violence of this — or any — type. We do not waiver in our passion for peaceful resolution of conflict, and for de-escalating the ways and means of perpetrating such violence.

We continue to speak up, to stand up, to reach out with our ideals of a peaceful world built on empathy and compassion, tomorrow and in the future.

Today, we mourn.

Respectfully,
Andrea Doray
President, Writing for Peace

Writing for Peace

Writing for Peace News

I’m pleased to announce publication of our second all-student edition of The Peace Correspondent. (You can read the first student edition here.) As editor-in-chief Elissa Tivona says, “September has been synonymous with back-to-school, but this year, the month feels more closely associated with disruption … American kids are facing unprecedented challenges as they navigate their young lives in very uncertain times. But resilience and creativity have never been more apparent.”
 
I invite you to dig into student writing such as “Conversations of Gender,” and “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail,” as well as “Comedy in the Politically Correct World.” Our Spotlight on Solutions section features a piece on bringing back the arts and another on climate change.
 
As guest editor, and Writing for Peace Advisor, Djelloul Marbrook, says in his outlook, “We have witnessed the near total collapse of diligent local journalism in America, and this is a costly tragedy that encourages gerrymandering, voter suppression, and confiscatory property taxation, not to mention pure damned corruption … We need people willing to challenge our assumptions about news.”
The young people who share their perspectives here will help us to meet this challenge.
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Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

We are citizens of the world: All may join and be, by Andrea W. Doray

President’s Corner:

We are citizens of the world: All may join and be

by Andrea W. Doray

 

Andrea_final--2 (2)When I sat down to write about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, last month, I found that I had no words, which doesn’t happen very often for me.

When American neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and domestic terrorists turned a peaceful counter-protest into a deadly confrontation, the worst of this nation was on display. When a deranged, hate-filled ideologue willfully sped a car through demonstrators, killing one and injuring dozens more, the worst of this nation had a face. I was left speechless with rage and helplessness and horror.

andrea Sentence 2 (2)Perhaps it’s more accurate to say, though, that I had too many words, too many jumbled phrases, too many tumbled emotions. I couldn’t focus well enough to put them together.

That changed recently in Denver, Colorado, on the 16th Street Mall, a section of downtown open only to pedestrians, bicycles, baby strollers, and, on occasion, horse-drawn buggies. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that I was safe from terrorism by car, but maybe that was a factor.

andrea Passerby (2)I have the pleasure of mentoring a young writer and the two of us got together one Saturday in August to Write Denver: Meet in the Street, a collaborative write-the-city project hosted by Lighthouse Writers Workshop, where I sometimes teach in the Young Writers Program.

That day’s “Word on the Street” event was a prelude to the Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S. The NEA Big Read supports dynamic community reading programs that broaden our understanding of our world, our communities and ourselves through the effect of sharing a good book, which this year features Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. In this work – which was a finalist for our National Book Award – Rankine explores what it means to be a person of color in America today, laying bare moments of racism that often surface in everyday encounters.

Version 3Dan Manzanares, Lighthouse Community Programs Coordinator, chalked out two huge blank pages on the center sidewalk and piled up words pasted on wooden blocks. Among “and,” “the,” “I” and “my,” were random words such as “tanks,” “stadiums,” heroes” and “punks.”

My student Grayson and I dove in.

It was an interesting process. Grayson seemed to put sentences together first, picking up a collection of blocks to position on the sidewalk page. I, on the other hand, found words that intrigued me, such as “seriousness,” “innocent,” “nostalgia” or “illuminated,” then added blocks, moved them around, or sometimes tossed them.

After about an hour, the two pages in the middle of Denver’s 16th Street Mall were nearly full, attracting the attention of passersby. Being who I am, I briefly outlined the project and asked them if they wanted to play. Some did.

andrea Sentence 1 (2)A tall black man took his time before he laid down blocks that read: “I roared I wish / my kids never know.” A young white couple wrote simply: “All may join / and be.” The man returned a second time, with this: “Instead of ambition / wish life & joy / be on all.”

Wow.

From my student, this: “We looked different / so life was floodlights / and / they did what they had to.” And, “This just in / the people are / only partially awful.”

All this from random blocks we were given.

For my part, by zeroing in on a word or two and then building around them, I wrote: “Neighborhood young families / punks and professional heroes wish / days crowd into night.” And this: “Oh, I myself had my cruel / seriousness too illuminated, thinking / innocent touch is enough.”

Did I write about the travesty of Charlottesville? Did I find my voice against hatred and violence and vile racism? Maybe … the experience of sharing words and thoughts with my student and with strangers – none of whom knew Rankine’s work, by the way – was oddly liberating. And uplifting. And illuminating.

In the end, I put together this about racism and Nazi flags and Tiki-torch violence: “Some nostalgia makes eager fraternities,” and, “My life wish is me / shutting doors / myself.”

And that’s how I see it from my little corner of the world.

# # #

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is occasionally a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association. Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

A Moral Imperative, By Andrea W. Doray

President’s Corner:

America has a moral imperative to offer asylum

by Andrea W. Doray

Andrea DorayUnited States from Egypt, where she would have been murdered by her own family as an honor killing because she refused an arranged marriage to her cousin.

A mother and young children travel north from Guatemala to the U.S., fleeing the gang violence, drug wars, and political corruption of their everyday existence.

A Syrian refugee family is finally reunited during the reprieve granted by judicial injunctions against the White House travel ban.

These are real cases, real people who have come to the United States to seek asylum. Their plights, and those of others like them, are the result of religious extremism, brutal repression, and despotism around the world. These people are forced to flee persecution, war, and intolerable conditions at home to seek safety in America.

Immigration – and the age-old debate that consumes it – continues to take center stage not only for politicians around the world, but also for those with strong convictions on this issue, one way or the other.

As an American, I am horrified at current policies and proposals from our very highest levels of government not only to deny admission to refugees, but also to hunt down law-abiding people who have made their lives here and to send them back to the desperate circumstances they once fled.

Fortunately, American immigration lawyers, expert witnesses, and researchers come together to detail country conditions for asylum officials, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attorneys, and immigration judges. They help to explain situations that immigration officials themselves often cannot even imagine happening, using details, reliable reports about human rights violations, and expert testimony to support the truths of violence, poverty, and brutal repression that asylum-seekers face day to day in their home countries.

Of course, under the current U.S. administration, the lives of those who are at risk if they are deported to their homelands have become lives of fear in America. The government has ramped up its efforts to send asylum-seekers back, at a staggering multi-billion-dollar cost and a waste of precious time and resources in the already overworked court system.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. government spends an average of $12,500 to arrest, detain, and deport just one person who has arrived in the country illegally, or who has overstayed his or her visa. A study released by the Migration Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC, found that, in the post 9/11 era, nearly $18 billion federal tax dollars were spent on immigration enforcement in 2012 alone – an amount greater than that spent on every other federal law enforcement agency combined.

Surely there are better uses for this money than chasing people who have sought or are seeking asylum in the U.S., and sending them back to certain imprisonment, torture, persecution, and, in many cases, death. Persecution, as defined by U.S. law, includes serious harm because of an applicant’s race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group.

Refusing asylum to people who have come the country for their safety does not represent, as I understand them, either the values of our society or the ideals of the United States of America.

My own grandparents, Timor and Lucretia, immigrated from Romania, entering the U.S. through Canada at the turn of the 20th century to escape the unrest and volatility of Eastern Europe. Timothy John, as my grandfather was known, worked as a janitor, ultimately headed a group of janitors, and helped other Romanian immigrants come to America.

Certainly much has changed since then: America had been seen as a beacon of hope and stability for people who have fled their home countries in fear for their lives. But because of its regressive policies and often-convoluted regulations, our government now endeavors to send them back.

Those helping immigrants through the U.S. court system say they encounter two basic reactions from ICE officials, DHS attorneys, and immigration judges to asylum cases: those who believe this country should welcome asylum applicants, and those who believe their responsibility is to serve as gatekeepers. These two worldviews reflect our larger society as a whole, with some of us believing that we are better because of immigration, and others who regard immigrants and asylum-seekers with both fear and anger. After September 11, and with the creation of the DHS, whose aim was originally to protect us from terrorist threats, there exists in many circles a deep-seated fear and mistrust of immigrants.

It would be hard to overstate the trauma, terror, and shame of women fleeing rape or female genital mutilation, or the fears of dissidents who are beaten or tortured for their political views, or the profound losses of families wrenched apart by civil strife, religious extremism, and outright war.

As Americans, I believe we have a moral imperative to uphold the ideals of life and liberty, and offer these same protections for those who seek safety in new lives here.

That’s how I see it, from my little corner of the world …

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P.S. Our 2017 edition of DoveTales: An International Journal of the Arts focuses on “Refugees and the Displaced.” Order your copy here for insightful writing on this issue, and to support the efforts of Writing for Peace.

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is occasionally a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association. Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Poetry fuels the fire; powerful play… by Andrea W. Doray

President’s Corner:

Poetry fuels the fire; and the powerful play goes on…

by Andrea W. Doray

Andrea Doray

Not surprisingly, I am in love with the written word. I love the power of the pen on the page to move, amuse, anger, or delight. The power to take us places we’ve never been before. The power to take us back to times and places we have come from.

Fiction, nonfiction such as biographies and creative nonfiction, memoirs, and essays have always had their devoted followers. Poetry is now also finding its way further into the mainstream … and even into the commercial realm as well. In an ad last year for the Apple iPad Air, we heard Robin William’s voice in his portrayal of John Keating, the beloved English teacher in the U.S. film Dead Poets Society.

From the sound track, replicated in the iPad ad, Williams/Keating quotes the poet Walt Whitman … but it’s far more than a quote, more than just a reading of words on the page. When Williams recites from “O, Me! O, Life!”, it is a performance that is as much a celebration of Whitman’s poetry as of the life about which Whitman writes. And for those of us who need a reminder of the profound power of Walt Whitman’s words, Williams gives it to us with a tantalizing invitation: “…the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Our just-released fifth edition of DoveTales: An International Journal of the Arts, published by Writing for Peace, features both new and established poets (as well as talented artists, photographers, essayists, and fiction writers), writing on the theme of “Refugees and the Displaced.” As Carmel Mawle, founder of Writing for Peace and editor-in-chief for the issue, says: “Their suffering is in the front of our collective consciousness.” Carmel reminds us that their situation has descended to new levels of hostility and danger:

What can we do to change this trend? We march. We show up at airports. We boycott. We call and write and demand accountability from our legislators. We write to shine a light … and we are making a difference. Don’t let the drumbeat of dystopia dampen your passion for justice.

As Carmel tells us, this book is fuel for the fire in our bellies.

* * *

Sam Hamill, revolutionary poet and scholar, co-founder of Poets again the War to protest the conflict in Iraq, is our featured advisor in “Refugees and the Displaced,” and we are fortunate to include three poems from his book, Habitation.

When celebrated poet Martín Espada was asked to comment on the release of Habitation, he said: “When future generations want to know the truth of these times, they will turn to the words of Sam Hamill.”

As is evident in his poetry and his activism, Sam Hamill is a man who intensely feels the suffering of others, much like the character of John Keating from Dead Poets Society, who said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.”

John Keating wanted his students to experience poetry with a different perspective of authentic knowledge and feelings. In our “Refugees and the Displaced” issue of DoveTales, the winners of our Young Writers Contest share this authenticity and power in their poetry.

Poetry judge E. Ethelbert Miller says of Lisa Zou’s first-place entry, “She Serves in Ben Hai”: “This is a beautiful poem – haunting in its tenderness … about family, aging, and the shadows of displacement created by [the Vietnam] war.”

Zou writes:

“… Each summer, my grandmother knits guilt / into my waitress dress and hot privilege lacquers my tongue. / I swallow each gated community, each “made in Vietnam” sticker, / one bleached spoonful after the other.”

Second-place winner Lydia Chew’s speaker issues an apology to a young woman harassed in school because she is Muslim. Says Miller: “Chew’s work attempts to understand what is at the root of our fears.”

In “Dear M,” Chew writes:

I don’t know if you remember me, / but this is my apology. / … I remember that I never saw you, / I only saw your hijab.

As Miller commented, “There is hope (in this poem) that perhaps we all have the capacity to change – no matter how long it may take.”

* * *

To quote from Walt Whitman:

“That you are here – that life exists and identity, / That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

In poets such as Sam Hamill, Lisa Zou, and Lydia Chew – and, indeed, in writers of all stripes – we find the compassionate, empathetic members of the human race John Keating describes in Dead Poets Society. We find knowledge, and authenticity, and power. We find fuel for the fire in our bellies.

And the powerful play goes on.

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Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is occasionally a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association.Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

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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, is now available. 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. Purchase your copy here, or find all our books at the Denver Lighthouse Writers Litfest!

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

First Amendment Essential to Peaceful Activism, by Andrea Doray, Plus Young Writer Contest Results

President’s Corner:

A free press, and freedom of speech, are essential to peaceful activism

by Andrea W. Doray

Andrea DorayI am a writer. And – as far as I know – no one is offering a bounty for one of my ears.

Not so for Akram Aylisli, a highly regarded writer, poet, and scriptwriter from Azerbaijan who once received that country’s most prestigious literary prize. However, in 2013, the leader of the Modern Musavat party announced that he would pay a bounty equivalent to $12,700 USD to anyone who cuts off Aylisli’s ear.

The impetus for this threat was Aylisli’s novel, Stone Dreams, which provides a sympathetic view of Armenians in Azerbaijan’s ongoing ethnic disputes. Aylisli is accused of describing only Azeri abuses against Armenians, and not addressing attacks by Armenians on Azeris.

Azerbaijan’s president also stripped Aylisli of the title of “People’s Writer.” And although the Minister of the Interior has announced that calls for violence are unacceptable, the threat to Aylisli remains.

Although he was already 75, Aylisli began contemplating seeking asylum abroad with his family. A writer, he says, has the right to express his thoughts without being considered a traitor. However, government officials in Azerbaijan have labeled Aylisli’s book as treasonous.

A year ago in 2016, Aylisli said that he had been stopped from travelling to a literary festival in Italy by border police when he arrived at Baku airport. His bags, which had already been checked in, were taken off the plane and searched. He was taken into the custody of the airport police and falsely, he says, accused of creating a public disturbance. He was interrogated and held by the police for more than 10 hours.

Aylisli, self-described as a 78-year-old writer in poor health and suffering from a heart condition, allegedly punched a border guard, a claim that was later used by the border service as an explanation for denying the border crossing.

Index on Censorship later released part of the speech he had been due to make at the Venice festival. In it, Aylisli writes: “I was a hero for some and a traitor for others. I never for a moment felt I was a hero or traitor, just a regular writer and humanitarian who is able to feel the pain of others.”

The editor of Index on Censorship Rachael Jolley told The Guardian that the Index on Censorship translated and published extracts from the speech because they felt it was important for the public to read what he was planning to say about the role of the writer and the right to criticism.

The situation, as I see it, is suppression of a perspective that does not support the nationalist stance on the Azerbaijani/Armenian conflict. And that is called censorship, even though, in Azerbaijan as in other countries – including the United States where I live – authors have a constitutional right to write what they want without pressure or government interference. Book bans and book burnings notwithstanding, American constitutional rights fare better than those in Azerbaijan.

Yet, even in a country where freedom of the press is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, writers are under siege. Just yesterday, April 30, 2017, Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff for the current administration under Donald Trump, said and repeated on the record that abridging or abolishing the First Amendment is something the Trump White House is currently considering.

It’s taken much of the USA’s 200+-year history to give voice to differing perspectives about events surrounding Native Americans, slavery, immigration, child labor, internment camps, McCarthyism, Kent State, Iran Contras, waterboarding, WikiLeaks, extraordinary rendition, and others, and one man is threatening to sue news outlets – not just in the United States – and jail individual writers and journalists on vague charges of treason. All because the sitting president doesn’t like his press coverage.

I personally have written, with critical opinions, about many of these subjects. And, to date in my country, no matter what I write, how I write it, or who I please or offend with my writing, I’m reasonably assured of keeping both my ears. And if that should ever change, we all have a much larger problem.

I do, however, have some words of advice for the White House, and for regimes around the world, that want to try. As Edward Bulwer-Lytton famously wrote in 1839 – and as systematic oppression against writers has proved since antiquity – the pen is mightier than the sword.

Let’s all pick up our pens and wield them as swords against any who would suppress and oppress free speech. Let’s accept our roles as writers and humanitarians who are able to feel the pain of others. And let’s teach our coming generations that peaceful activism begins on the page.

To this end, we at Writing for Peace are pleased to announce the winners of our 2017 Young Writers Contest. These young people from around the globe submitted their unique perspectives in poetry, essays, and fiction, and we are enriched through their wisdom. You will find last year’s winning entries in the latest edition of DoveTales, our international journal of the arts, which is now available for purchase.

If I may paraphrase Russian-based bestselling author Boris Akunin’s comments from one of his blog posts about Akram Aylisli, “Don’t you know that the state cannot win in a war with a writer?”

I couldn’t agree more.

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Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is occasionally a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association.Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

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2017 Young Writers Contest Results

Judges: Chip Livingston, poetry; Bradley Wetzler, nonfiction; and Nick Arvin, fiction

Poetry~

First Place: Lisa Zou from Chandler, Arizona, for “Bowls.”

Second Place: Jacqueline He from  San Jose, California, for “狐狸精 // Fox Spirit.”

Third Place: Cindy Song from Rockville, Maryland for “Scaffold.”

Fiction~

First Place: Wajudah Muheeb from Lagos, Nigeria, for “Rainbow Nation.”

Second Place: Jessica Hansen from Burwell, United Kingdom, for “The Exodus.”

Third Place: McKinsey Crozier from Cadillac, Michigan, for “Breath Free.”

Nonfiction~

First Place: Euijin Oh from Seoul, Gangnam-go, South Korea, for “The (Un)Fair Trade Culture: Piracy in the Caribbean.”

Second Place: Riley Mayes from Portland, Maine, for “Smiling at Strangers .”

Third Place: Brandon Sklarin from Smithtown, New York, for “Cuba, My Grandmother’s Journey.”

Finalists~

Poetry: Laura Hinkle & Soo Young Yun

Fiction: Andrew Kim & Ye Joon Han

Nonfiction: Celine Lee & Danielle Zarcone

Congratulations to the winners and finalists. First, second, and third place winners’ work will appear in our 2018 edition of DoveTales, edited by Andrea W. Doray. Many thanks to our judges for the time and thought they put into these decisions.

Writing for Peace would like to thank all of the writers who submitted poetry, fiction and essays for our 2017 Young Writers Contest. We understand it is no small thing to commit to a themed work and then send it out. All participants will shortly receive printed certificates. We hope you will continue to write, research, explore, and ask the questions that need to be asked. The 2018 contest will open on September 1st, 2017 and run until March 1st, 2018.

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.

What I know for sure, by Andrea W. Doray

President’s Corner:

What I know for sure

by Andrea W. Doray

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s a line in “Brilliant Disguise,” a song by U.S. rock music artist Bruce Springsteen, that goes: “God have mercy on the man who doubts what he’s sure of.” This poignant verse has always rung true for me, and in the current world of gaslighting and alternative facts by the American president and his administration, and by despots around the world, I have found myself pondering more and more often what it is that I am truly sure of.

And here is what I know for sure:

The brightest lights in any city are in the hospital emergency room. Whether you are there seeking help (as I have been numerous times after mountain biking accidents), or are there with others who need help, the light is unrelenting. The glare from metal doors and instruments bounces off fluorescent bulbs, white walls and white floors. Night and day are one and they both have hard, well-lit edges, softened only by the voices and faces and hands of those who ultimately provide that help.

Contrast this with dust and gas filled rooms of the makeshift hospitals in Syria, where people – having been poisoned by their own government – are seeking help, only to find themselves again victims of bombs and terror. We, as writers and peaceful activists, need to shine a light – a very bright light – on these war crimes and demand action from the international community.

My parents left me with too many questions. I was so lucky to have my parents for as long as I did, into my late 40s and early 50s. The world was a better place for their having been here. But … I wish I had asked more. About their military experiences – both served in the Army in World War II, my dad in Europe and North Africa, and my mom in the Philippines and New Guinea. About the details of their young lives, his in Louisville, Kentucky, and hers in Chicago. I wish I had learned more about their parents, and their parents. I wish I had asked more, and then listened more.

By listening more, all of us, and learning from history, we can help prevent the travesties of the past, prevent the descent into fascism, xenophobia, and authoritarian rule, and the exploitation of women and children around the globe. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past, but continue to point out the danger of demonizing and isolating ethnicities, religions, gender identities, and class.

Everybody needs a GoPro camera. I’m convinced that each of us rides a different path and that it would be extraordinarily instructive if we could actually experience one another’s. I’d like a GoPro on my mountain biking helmet and on my rock-climbing helmet so I could take others with me, so people would understand the hows and the whys of each decision I make on a challenging trail or a slippery slope.

And perhaps more importantly, people with different perspectives could share their journeys with me, and I could begin to understand their hows and their whys. Understanding puts us all on the path to empathy and conflict resolution.

Human rights are the rights of all humans. All humans, equally, without regard to class or social status, no matter our gender or race, or who we worship or who we love. And I know this to be true: There is grave danger in abridging these rights. Too many people have fought – and continue to fight – too hard for too long, around the globe, for the rest of us to simply stand by and watch.

Now is the time for vision, voice, and vigilance. For asking and listening. For appreciating what we have and fighting against its loss. For looking through others’ lenses and for sharing our own. Now is the time.

This is what I know for sure.

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association.Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

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A Deep Loss for Our Community

Hazel Krantz, Writing for Peace Advisor

Hazel Krantz
(1920 – 2017)

Longtime board member and young writer advocate Hazel Krantz passed away the evening of April 5th. We extend our deepest condolences to Hazel’s family and friends. She will be deeply missed.

Hazel Newman grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. She married Michael Krantz and they moved to Long Island. In 1982 they came to Fort Collins, Colorado.

Hazel Krantz was the author of ten books, primarily young adult fiction.  She was a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Hazel’s career combined writing and teaching.  After receiving a degree in journalism from NYU, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Hofstra University. For a time, she worked for New York buying offices, planning the advertising for member stores.  When her children started school, she taught elementary school in Nassau County for twelve years.

Returning to editorial work, she was full charge editor of New Frontier magazine, and then joined the editorial staff for The Sound Engineering Magazine. Until recently, Hazel still actively wrote, enjoyed weaving, participating in interfaith and peace organizations, and loved spending time with her dog Willie, adopted from the local humane society. She especially loved working with young writers through Writing for Peace.

Editor-in-Chief Elissa Tivona interviewed Hazel in the latest Peace Correspondent. You can read that wonderful interview here.

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Introducing Our New President, Andrea W. Doray

Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace and serves as President of the Board of Directors.

Carmel Mawle, Founder

By Carmel Mawle, Founder and Past President

One afternoon, in April of 2012, a group of writers gathered around a table in front of a Denver coffee shop. Herb gardens bloomed and spilled from pots as we brainstormed with a vibrant coffee-infused energy. We were all members of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, all of us deeply moved and inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests that had survived it’s first brutal winter. As sunlight filtered through new leaves, we imagined a future for Writing for Peace, a simple idea that had begun the autumn before with a young writers contest that sought to develop empathy. On this magical afternoon, our annual journal and it’s title,  DoveTales, was first conceived along with a million other brilliant ideas. Andrea W. Doray was at the table that afternoon and, as we reminisced the other day, she said she could have leapt over the table in her enthusiasm to be a part of Writing for Peace.

We’re now putting together our fifth DoveTales, and how far we’ve come in these short five years! Andrea W. Doray, an award-winning journalist and poet, has been an integral part of  Writing for Peace from the beginning. I am thrilled now to announce that she will be stepping in as President of the Board of Directors. In addition to her mighty pen, Andrea brings with her a wealth of experience in publishing, public relations, and marketing that promises to propel the organization forward during a time when empathy, compassion, and writing for peace is more important than ever. Watch for her inspiring monthly President’s Corner in our blog, the first of which appears below!

Congratulations, Andrea, and thank you for your commitment and service on behalf of a more peaceful world!

President’s Corner:

We Write … That’s Our Superpower

by Andrea W. Doray

 

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Andrea W. Doray, President

For my recent birthday, a friend who knows me well presented me with a coffee mug that says: “I write … what’s your superpower?” She knows I believe, as most of us do, that our words make a difference. And that is, after all, the reason I write.

Of course, as may also be true for you, I write because I have to, because it’s as essential to me as breathing. There’s nothing unique in this sentiment. All the writers I know feel this way to one degree or another. Just thinking on paper through the marvelous and mysterious world of words, through the various lexicons of language, satisfies something crucial in us.

I also write because I feel that I personally have to do something about the world and the way I view it. And when I despair – as I often do – about refugee camps and the ravages of war, about kidnappings, torture, and rape as a weapon of war, about the devastation that war inflicts and then leaves in its wake, I want to be of some use, to put my hands to work. I yearn to offer what little expertise I have as an aid worker to make things right.

In short, I want to be a superhero.

But I have wise friends who remind me that I already have a superpower. When I need to put these hands to work, I grab my pen. I think on paper. Like you, I provide information and education, I create awareness, I ask for action, and most of all I try to spark a measure of considered thought from decent people around the globe.

Through Writing for Peace, we model for young people the ways to make a difference with their words through cultural understanding and acceptance. We model for governments the ways a movement can start and evolve to bring about awareness of and support for issues. We model for the world the ways peaceful activism works to bring about change.

We are so powerful.

I look forward to our many initiatives, including our journal, DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, which has been lovingly nurtured and edited by our past president and founder Carmel Mawle for five issues. Have you see the Peace Correspondent, our just-launched news magazine, spearheaded by board member Elissa Tivona?

Writing for Peace Advisor Mary Carroll-Hackett led a stellar Youth Summit in 2016, which brought students from around the globe together for conversation and problem solving. Watch for news about the 2017 Youth Summit later this year.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve as president of Writing for Peace – an organization that, since its founding five years ago, has allowed me to pursue my passion, my desire, my absolute need to bring peace to the forefront of the world’s conversations.

If what we write prompts someone else to think about something differently, to support a position, to articulate their own thoughts, or to take peaceful action that advances worldwide – and local – understanding of human rights and social justice, we have made the difference we set out to make.

We write … that’s our superpower. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Peacemaking more than prize, By Andrea W. Doray

Malala2Peacemaking is more than a prize

By Andrea W. Doray

 

With the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan became its youngest recipient at 17, sharing the award with Kailash Satyarthi of India. Shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012 when a gunman boarded her school bus, Malala made a remarkable recovery in England, where she continues her advocacy for girls’ rights to education that began when she was only 11 years old.

I was deeply disappointed last year when Malala’s 2013 nomination did not result in the Peace Prize, that pre-eminent, political, and often controversial award handed out every year by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on behalf of the estate of its founder, Alfred Nobel. I was gratified this year for Malala’s well-deserved recognition, as well as for the spotlight this award has cast on both education and peace.

Not all efforts at peaceful activism can result in such prizes, of course, and this is the case — so far — for Fort Collins-headquartered Writing for Peace, a now-global organization that began as a local Young Writer’s Contest in 2011. Today, the nonprofit Writing for Peace shares an international stage with its high-profile advisory panel. Sponsorships from educational institutions such as Colgate University help produce an annual publication, “DoveTales: An International Journal of the Arts,” which attracts literary submissions from around the world, as well for its Young Writers Contest.

Writing for Peace helps cultivate empathy through education and creative writing to develop a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world. Its goal is to inspire and guide young writers so that their literary focus can be part of bringing nations closer to nonviolent conflict resolution and societies that value human rights.

Teachers all over the world are preparing their students for a relay race of unprecedented consequences. Our generation is passing them a heavy baton: a world in crisis. If we are to hope for a more peaceful world, we need future leaders with vision, clarity and empathy. The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest challenges these students — including contest winners from South Korea, Vietnam and Nigeria, as well as the U.S. — to develop global and cultural awareness while refining their writing skills.

Among the Writing for Peace advisory panel members are poets, novelists, memoirists and essayists — artists such as Sam Hamill, who founded Poets Against The War, and Karachi-born Syed Azfar Ali Rizvi, now a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker who survived ethnic cleansing as a child in Pakistan. Young Writers Contest judges are no slouches either, including Guggenheim Fellowship winner Antonya Nelson and New York Times best-selling author Steve Almond.

Yet, as impressive as this may be, it’s work with young people that drives the mission of Writing for Peace. The first Young Writers Contest in 2012 resulted in five entries from U.S. students. By 2014, Writing for Peace has received submissions from students in 24 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Great Britain and the Netherlands, as well as Bangladesh, Macedonia, the Maldives, Malaysia and the Philippines.

This impact on young people around the world is reflected in the words of Kasturi Panajady, 15, from Karnataka, India, “Since Writing for Peace, I have become bolder in terms of sharing my work.” Jordan Dalton, 16, from Indiana, said, “I’ve come to realize that my work really can make a difference in the world.”

Although it’s not likely that Writing for Peace will be nominated for a Nobel Prize (yet), such activist efforts at empathy through education prove that peacemaking is more than a prize. As Dalton puts it: “Words have the power to spread awareness, hope, and inspiration to people who would have otherwise despaired.”

[This article first appeared in the Denver Post on October 18, 2014.]

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

Andrea W. Doray (a.doray@andreadoray.com) is a communication consultant, writer and editor, and is a youth writing instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She serves on the Board of Directors for Writing for Peace. Learn more about her work here.

 

Small Writing for Peace logoWriting for Peace News

Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserManaged Democracy, Expendable People

“As the elections draw near, the plutocracy and crisis of democracy become more visible. ”

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

DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, is accepting submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition. Read our guidelines and submit here.

 

Enter Our 2015 Young Writers Contest 

2013 Writing for Peace Young Writers ContestHelp spread the word! 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.

 

Your Library Isn’t Complete Without DoveTales!

2014 DoveTales, "Contrast" EditionThe 2014 DoveTales, “Contrast” Edition is now available for purchase. The “Contrast” edition includes the beautiful black and white photography from Writing for Peace Artist-in-Residence, Paula Dawn Lietz, as well as the 2013 Young Writers Contest winners, and the following 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

 

Writing for Peace Granted 501 (c) 3 Federal Nonprofit Status

What does 501(c)3 status mean for Writing for Peace? Well, some things will not change; our administration will continue to be board operated and volunteer based. That means 100% of contributions go directly towards the considerable costs of publishing, maintaining our website, shipping DoveTales journals and participation certificates to contributors and young writers in 24 countries, and providing modest prizes to our contest winners. We are grateful for the support of generous donors and the Colgate University Research Council.

Here’s what will change: Your donations can now be deducted from your Federal income tax! For those who chose to support us before that was the case, we are deeply moved by your belief in us, and we are so happy to finally be able to say your contribution is a deduction. For your records, our Federal Tax ID Number is 45-2968027.

If you’re a believer in Writing for Peace, we hope you’ll consider donating to support a simple mission with a profound affect on the lives of our young writers. You can make your contributions here.

As Jordan Dalton (16), put it:

Jordan Dalton, 2013 Fiction, First Place“Since writing my entry for Writing for Peace, I’ve come to realize that my work really can make a difference in the world. Words have the power to spread awareness, hope, and inspiration to people who would have otherwise despaired. We all have the ability to create, and create in the name of beauty and change. I can only hope one day to spend my life doing just that.”

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Why I can’t unsee what I’ve read about 9/11, by Andrea W. Doray

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Why I can’t unsee what I’ve read about 9/11

by

Andrea W. Doray

 

I haven’t watched the videos of the recent slayings of American journalists. I read the news accounts and the still photos were horrific enough for me, and I knew that I could never unsee it.

But in the theater of my mind, I did see it; in fact, I see it over and over. I see it because I’ve read accounts in the news about what happened, just as I did about the mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Sandy Hook, CT, the innocent civilian casualties in armed conflicts around the world, and the transports and death camps of the Holocaust. I wasn’t a physical witness to any of these, and yet I can see, I can see, I can see these wicked events taking place.

Such is the power of words.

In September especially, but often throughout the year, my mind returns again and again to the images of the Twin Towers. Like most of us, I watched first in disbelief, then in growing horror, anger, and helplessness. Because of the immediacy, even 13 years ago, of real-time news reporting, I watched September 11, 2001, unfold as I was clustered around a television with dozens of coworkers. The planes, the fires, the collapsing buildings…all seared into our shocked and grieving collective consciousness.

I don’t remember if I watched this next part actually taking place, but I’ve seen the photographs of people leaping from the flaming buildings, caught by the still frames of a camera. And as much as these images haunt me, it’s what I have read that frequents my memory and deepens my sorrow on September 11.

I’m referring to a critically acclaimed poem by Brian Doyle, entitled “Leap.” Doyle’s opening line, “A couple leaped from the south tower, hand in hand,” sets the scene. If you search the Web for this topic, as I did for this column, you’ll find that some people think the images of a man and a woman holding hands as they fell are a hoax, claiming the pictures are photoshopped. But Doyle relies on eyewitness accounts from people who did the seeing – not just of this couple but also of others, very real people forced to make those harrowing desperate choices.

Doyle gives us descriptions from horrified spectators, descriptions made even more chilling in their spare language: “people ‘leaping as they flew out.’ ” And “ ‘falling over themselves’ … ‘too many people falling.’ ” Doyle also relates the events on the streets below, where pedestrians and a firefighter were killed “by people falling from the sky.”

Doyle ends the poem by speculating about the moments leading up to the hand-in-hand plunge. To paraphrase: did they know each other…friends, colleagues? Or were they strangers “thrown together at the window at the lip of hell,” strangers who “held on tight, and leaped….”

Through these unblinking words, I make more of a human connection with the victims than I ever could by watching videos or viewing photos. And it’s because I have read “Leap” that I can’t unsee their desperation, the agony in their final acts. But perhaps that’s what needs to happen, so that these victims, too, will never be forgotten, to keep this tragedy in the theaters of our minds.

Such is the power of words.

 

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About Andrea W. Doray

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board Member

Andrea W. Doray is a member of the Writing for Peace board of directors, and a writer who, not surprisingly, sees things in words. You can find “Leap” at PBS.org, and can hear Brian Doyle read his work on YouTube. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com if you would like the links.

A version of this article appeared in Colorado Community Media newspapers and is reprinted here with permission.

 

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Writing for Peace News

Climate Alarm Is Ringing – And Until Now the United Nations Has Failed To Act – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf
Climate Alarm Is Ringing – And Until Now the United Nations Has Failed To Act – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf

What Will It Take To Create Climate Justice?

by Writing for Peace Adviser Margaret Flowers, and Kevin Zeese

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserAll of the elements required to create climate justice seem to be in place. Activists are well organized, polls indicate public support, and overwhelming consensus among the scientific community, so why aren’t governments taking appropriate action to address climate change? Read the article here.

 DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace is now accepting submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition of DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts. Read our guidelines and submit here.

Young Writers Contest Now Open!

2015 Young Writers Contest JudgesOur Young Writers Contest is now open! To date, Writing for Peace has received entries from young writers with a passion for peace from 24 countries. Go to www.writingforpeace.org to meet our previous winners and learn about our wonderful panel of judges: Antonya Nelson, fiction; Stephen Kuusisto, poetry; and Steve Almond, nonfiction. Read the full guidelines here.

he recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed. – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf
Climate Alarm Is Ringing – And Until Now the United Nations Has Failed To Act

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The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed.

– See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf

Support Writing for Peace By Purchasing Our Latest Edition Of DoveTales

The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed. – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf

2014 DoveTales, "Contrast" Edition2014 DoveTales, “Contrast” edition, is now available for purchase. The 2014 issue is themed “contrast” and includes the beautiful black and white photography of Writing for Peace Artist-in-Residence Paula Dawn Lietz, as well as the 2013 Young Writers Contest winners, and the following 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

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.