Category Archives: Gun Violence

On Empathy, by Andrea W. Doray

 

Empathy unites the hopes and dreams of humanity

by Andrea W. Doray

From left to right: Picture Me Here mentor Meredith Turk, program fellow Gulsum Katmir, and Writing for Peace president Andrea Doray. Gulsum is also director of the Mosaic Foundation, an interfaith alliance in Denver, CO.

From left to right: Picture Me Here mentor Meredith Turk, program fellow Gulsum Katmir, and Writing for Peace president Andrea Doray. Gulsum is also director of the Mosaic Foundation, an interfaith alliance in Denver, CO.

One Friday night recently, I was in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Ukraine. I smelled the jasmine and heard the mourning doves of Syria. I savored lunch in Afghanistan. I felt buildings collapse in Mexico, and witnessed the capture of a terrorist in Iraq. I visited a hospital, an airport, and a high school hallway. I met siblings and parents and grandparents, and felt the loss of those who are gone.

Why was I so fortunate? Because I am mentoring writers in a fellowship from Picture Me Here, a storytelling program in Denver, Colorado, USA, for refugees, immigrants and others who have been displaced. The Picture Me Here program uses writing, audio, and video to help people explore their cultural and artistic identities through their stories of migration, memory, and place. That Friday evening, these fellows debuted the audio versions of their first stories.

I was partnered with two young women to mentor them through writing these stories: Sunday, of Burmese descent, and Gulsum, from Turkey. Gulsum, 30, and her husband came to the United States 10 years ago to get their master’s degrees (hers in economics from Penn State), never intending to stay here. In her recorded story on Friday, she recalled receiving a phone call from her husband with news of the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey. In that moment, she knew she could never go home.

In her story, Gulsum said: “Unfortunately, the [government’s] scapegoat was the social movement called Hizmet – [whose members] believe in peace all around the world and promote interfaith dialogue – declared as the enemy of the Turkish state … My worries were because we were planning to go back to Turkey and I am [part] of the Hizmet movement [and President] Erdogan now could do anything to [us].” Gulsum knows she will be jailed upon her return, even if just to visit her parents.

Sunday – who was born to Burmese parents in a refugee camp in Thailand and who came to the U.S. at 13 – wrote: “I lived my whole life in the camp, only leaving when my family came to the United States. Because my mother could not afford to go to a hospital, I was born at home in the refugee camp and not granted Thai citizenship. But I did not have citizenship in Burma, because I was born in Thailand. I didn’t know which country I belonged to.”

Sunday, now 18, says she looks forward to finally gaining citizenship – in the U.S. – and: “I hope to make a living serving others. I am so happy to achieve for what I want.”

Like the rest of us at Writing for Peace, I am deeply committed to our mission to cultivate – through education and creative writing – the empathy that allows us to value our diversities and differences as well as the hopes and dreams that unite all of humanity.

Through Sunday’s and Gulsum’s intensely personal stories – and the stories of the young Ethiopian man who had to wait 10 years to bring his mother here, the Iraqi man who had worked with the U.S. military there, the siblings from Afghanistan who cried when they remembered their grandfather, and the young woman from Syria who contrasted her life from before and during the war – I felt the empathy swell in me and the others in the room, uniting us in common hopes and dreams. In moments like these, I truly believe peace is achievable.

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.

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Writing for Peace News

The Writing for Peace Board of Directors extends our deepest condolences to those affected by the recent shootings, and asks…

What Can I Do?

by Jody Rein, Writing for Peace Board Member

More senseless tragedies in America; more assault weapons used to kill and maim the most innocent among us. We feel increasingly impotent, searching for something we can do that will make an impact.

Of course, we can never eradicate violent behavior; humans are imperfect. But we are NOT helpless to change the multiplier—the gun.

Gun safety laws fail to pass at the Federal level because a relatively few people, primarily through the NRA, give a lot of money to fund political campaigns. But your vote can weigh more than their money. When thousands of constituents vow to withhold votes, NRA-funded legislators’ loyalty waivers. We have the numbers: the vast majority of Americans, including many NRA members, support reasonable gun safety laws.

When it comes to influencing lawmakers in the United States, know this:

  1. Your call matters. Your email matters. Most people keep silent.
  2. Most gun legislation today is done at the state and local level. This is where you can have the most influence.

Actions that Make a Difference

  1. Use the Gun Law Navigatorto learn generally about your state’s gun laws.
  2. Find out what laws are on the books in your state, and call or write your local representative to express your opinion. How do you find out? Google local chapters of MomsDemandAction OR the Brady Campaign OR simply “gun safety advocate [your state].”  In Colorado, for example, we have www.coloradoceasefire.org, as well as branches of the national advocacy groups listed above. Colorado Ceasefire is a one-stop-shop for information. It lists upcoming legislation, legislator voting records and NRA ratings, and actions you can take.

Most of these groups also have email alerts; sign up. Act when asked.

  1. Volunteer, either for a gun safety advocacy group, or for the political campaign of someone who supports gun safety. We need you in 2018, desperately. We can’t change the Federal laws until we change the people who refuse to enact reasonable gun-safety legislation.

We can do this.

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Border Crisis, by Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

Border Crisis, or Juárez City is Inside Our Closets

Pilar Rodriguez Aranda, Writing for Peace Adviserby Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

(To read this post in Spanish, scroll down.)

Everyday I read, listen to, and witness the decomposition of our “human” societies, and everyday I become more convinced there will never be a real change if we do not work on the very base of it all: our own self, our family, our neighborhood and our local community. It is there where we find such barbarities that I really don’t understand why we are amazed these happen, of course amplified, at a global level: abuse of all types, beatings, rape, humiliation, war. What happens inside our homes and among our neighbors is the very reflection/root of our sickness, the microcosms of what happens in the immensity of this beautiful planet, our great home, which we systematically keep murdering. We know it, and yet…

I once was at a conference with all kinds of academic “experts” on violence; while the speaker was offering a summary of his latest research or book, a friend who knew this man told me he had beaten his girlfriend; and in that same conference there were at least two other cases of lecturers who abused women or, similarly, his coworkers. I believe Peace starts within, but not a fantasy/imagined/unrealistic peace, where we all act as if separate from the rest… Peace is something we seek, a conscious act, it requires will and a lot of “work”, because, when you have grown in a home where violence is the norm, then of course we will accept and even crave for it outside: radio and TV announcers who can’t seem to talk normally but always screaming; news about ugliness, war and devastation; commercials which are full of lies and immorality; entertainment which is all blood-kill-explode, full of “bad” people, which are always from some “alien” place, colored people who come from “the other side” of our “border”. Borders…another one of those cruel human inventions. A patriarch will never allow anyone from “outside” to meddle with whatever is happening inside his home, and almost everyone else seems to accept this, still. So, my neighbour beats his kids or his wife, and I say nothing. Remember that “Silence = Death”? Well, we still haven’t gone beyond the tiniest of peeps…

Some think that’s a job for our politicians…yet, everyone seems to loath them! And not only Americans, but Mexicans, Cubans, Chileans, Spaniards, Argentinians… Are there any exceptions? Maybe Uruguayans at this point, maybe Icelanders. So, we complain, we denounce, and nothing happens. These so called “representatives” choose their “causes” according to popularity or economic gain, so, of course, it is not surprise when one of them says that femicides is not a pressing problem, even though there’s a constant increase in all forms of violence against women. A lot is being said and written right now about the thousands of Central American children who are waiting to be deported back to their no-future land… But who is talking about those we know nothing about, the “disappeared” ones, killed for their organs, subjected to prostitution and slavery? This year alone, and only in Mexico, there have been 45 thousand children reported disappeared. Who is talking about them?

The US has never truly been “the promised land”, and yet, the media keeps selling this concept of “America the brave and perfect democracy”, hypocrisy at its height! But even if the “American Dream” is just a lie, if you compares one single fact, like minimum wage, it is so easy to understand, I mean, if I make 8 dollars a day, of course making 8 dollars an hour will seem much more attractive. And if at home the alternative is getting killed or becoming a victim, the choice is even easier. In the documentary “Which Way Home”, a kid says he wants to go to the USA because he wants a different life. The interviewer asks him, what kind of life? and he responds, any other.

We know about US intervention in all of Latin America, about corporate rulings, puppet governments, coups d’état, rigged elections, and so on, and yet nothing has changed. I sometimes try to explain to my Mexican friends that my US friends feel the same as we do, and they are powerless to change the direction of their own government, just as we seem powerless to do the same with ours. But, are we really that powerless, or is this just another illusion?

To be honest, I understand nothing. I look around and no one seems to care. People go about their daily life, working, shopping, entertaining themselves; more people will gather to celebrate a soccer game than to protest about anything! I don’t understand humanity’s fascination with death and the end of the world. Someone once told me it had to do with the prophecy of the apocalypses. So, following this logic, if according to the bible, sooner or later the world is coming to an end, why should we care? We are all going to die anyway, why not hurry the fact? Is that how it goes? I also don’t understand a religion which accepts money to aggrandize their churches and protects their own criminals but has no empathy for those who are (still, somewhat) innocent, and suffer; I don’t understand those can’t open their hearts to an eight year old child who has crossed all of the terrain called Mexico on foot, surviving all kinds of atrocities, and wish to send him back… Him and thousands more like him. And I don’t understand why everyone acts surprised, when for many years this situation has been built by their own government and their own indifference.

Once, while showing films on the violence happening in Juárez City in one of the many “sub-cities” that are part of the immense urban mess called Mexico City, an elementary teacher said, “Juárez is in our closets”. She was thinking about the raped, battered, abused little kids who she sees everyday in school, forced to act as if everything is alright, as if their home is a happy place, and life is a piece of cake. And of course, how can she even suggest this kid’s soul, mind and body is being systematically killed? Her parents will deny it, her siblings and even her grandparents or aunts will deny it. Not a peep. What happens within our walls is our business…

Well, guess what? Not anymore. What happens in the US is as much my business as what happens in Nicaragua or in China or in Portugal, and whatever happens in a child’s home should be as much my business as what happens in mine. A lot is being said (and supposedly done, but who believes in politicians?) about the present crisis in the US border. I have no answers, I don’t even pretend to offer a true analysis, such is the task of “experts”. All I can say about these children is, at least they are alive! There is still hope, except, sending them back means denying them that, once again. Where is the love, the compassion, the braveness in this? Our closets are about to burst.

***

La crisis en la frontera, ó Ciudad Juárez vive en nuestros clósets

por Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

Todos los días leo, escucho y soy testigo de la descomposición de nuestras sociedades “humanas”, y todos los días me convenzo más de que nunca habrá un cambio verdadero si no trabajamos en la base de todo: nuestro propio ser, nuestra familia, nuestro barrio y nuestra comunidad local. Es ahí donde encontramos tales barbaridades que realmente no entiendo por qué nos sorprendemos de que éstas sucedan, claro, amplificadas, a nivel global: abuso de todos tipos, golpizas, violación, humillación, guerra. Lo que sucede dentro de nuestros hogares y entre nuestros vecinos es el reflejo/raíz misma de nuestra enfermedad, el microcosmos de lo que sucede en la inmensidad de este bello planeta, nuestro gran hogar, el cual seguimos asesinando sistemáticamente. Lo sabemos, y sin embargo…

Estuve alguna vez en una conferencia con toda clase de académicos “expertos” en el tema de la violencia; mientras un conferencista ofrecía un resumen de su última investigación o libro, una amiga que conocía a este hombre me contaba que él golpeaba a la novia; en esa misma conferencia había al menos dos casos más de presentadores que habían abusado a mujeres o, de manera similar, a sus compañeros de trabajo. Yo creo que la Paz comienza dentro, pero no una paz fantasía/imaginada/irreal, donde todos actúan como si estuvieran separados de los demás… La paz es algo que buscamos, un acto consciente, requiere de voluntad y mucho “trabajo”, porque cuando uno ha crecido en un hogar donde la violencia es la norma, entonces, claro que vamos a aceptar, e incluso ansiarla, en el exterior: locutores de radio y televisión que parece no pueden hablar normalmente sino siempre gritando; noticias sobre la fealdad, la guerra y la devastación; comerciales llenos de mentiras e inmoralidad; entretenimiento que es todo sangre-mata-explota, lleno de gente “mala”, que vienen de un lugar “ajeno”, gente de color que vienen “del otro lado” de nuestra “frontera”. Fronteras…otro de esos crueles inventos humanos. Un patriarca nunca permitirá que alguien de “fuera” se meta en lo que sucede dentro de su casa, y casi todos parecen aceptar esto, todavía. Así que, si mi vecino golpea a sus niños o a su esposa, yo no debo decir nada. ¿Recuerdan aquél, “Silencio = Muerte”? Bueno, pues todavía no hemos pasado de emitir el más leve de los píos…

Algunos piensan que ese es un trabajo para nuestros políticos…y sin embargo ¡todos parecen despreciarlos! Y no solo los norteamericanos, sino los mexicanos, los cubanos, los chilenos, españoles, argentinos…¿Hay alguna excepción? Quizá los uruguayos en este momento, o los islandeses. Así que, nos quejamos, denunciamos, y nada sucede. Estos llamados “representantes” eligen sus “causas” de acuerdo a la popularidad o a la ganancia económica, así que, por supuesto no es de sorprenderse cuando uno de ellos dice que los feminicidios no son un problema apremiante, aún cuando hay un aumento constante de todas las formas de violencia en contra de la mujer. Mucho se está diciendo y escribiendo en este momento sobre los niños centroamericanos que esperan a ser deportados de vuelta a su tierra sin futuro… Pero, ¿quién está hablando de los que no sabemos nada, los “desaparecidos”, que han sido asesinados por sus órganos, sujetos a la prostitución y esclavitud? Solo este año, y solo en México, han habido 45 mil reportes de niños desaparecidos. ¿Quién está hablando de ellos?

Los Estados Unidos nunca han sido en verdad “la tierra prometida”, y sin embargo, los medios continúan vendiendo el concepto de “América, la valiente, la democracia perfecta”, ¡la hipocresía al máximo! Pero, aún si el “Sueño Americano” es solo una mentira, si uno compara un solo dato, como el salario mínimo, es entonces fácil de entender, digo, si yo gano 8 dólares al día, es obvio que ganar 8 dólares la hora me parecerá mucho más atractivo. Y si en casa, la alternativa es que te maten o te conviertas en víctima, la elección se hace todavía más fácil. En el documental “Which Way Home”, un niño dice que quiere ir a los EEUU porque desea una vida distinta. El entrevistador le pregunta, ¿qué clase de vida?, y él responde, cualquier otra.

Sabemos sobre la intervención de los EEUU en toda Latinoamérica, sobre el dominio de las corporaciones, los gobiernos títere, los golpes de estado, las elecciones amañadas, y así sucesivamente, y sin embargo, nada cambia. En ocasiones trato de explicarle a mis amigos mexicanos que mis amigos norteamericanos se sienten igual que nosotros, y que son igual de impotentes para cambiar la dirección de su gobierno, como nosotros somos impotentes de hacer lo mismo con el propio. Pero, ¿es verdad que somos así de impotentes, o es solo otra ilusión?

Para ser honesta, no entiendo nada. Miro alrededor mío, y a nadie parece importarle. La gente continúa con su vida cotidiana, va al trabajo, de compras, se entretienen; ¡se reúne más gente para celebrar un partido de fútbol que para protestar por cualquier cosa! Yo no entiendo la fascinación de los humanos por la muerte y el fin del mundo. Alguien me dijo alguna vez que tiene que ver con la profecía del Apocalipsis. Así que, en esa lógica, si de acuerdo con la Biblia, tarde o temprano el mundo se va a acabar, ¿para qué importarnos? Todos vamos a morir así que, ¿por qué no apresurarnos? ¿Así es como va la cosa? Tampoco entiendo una religión que acepta dinero para agrandar sus iglesias y protege a sus criminales pero no tiene empatía por aquellos que son (todavía, de algún modo) inocentes, y sufren; yo no entiendo a aquellos que no tienen su corazón abierto ante un niño de ocho años que ha cruzado todo ese terreno llamado México, a pie, sobreviviendo toda clase de atrocidades, y desean enviarlo de vuelta… A él y miles como él. Y no entiendo por qué todos actúan sorprendidos, cuando por años esta situación ha sido creada por su propio gobierno y su propia indiferencia.

Una vez en que mostrábamos películas sobre la violencia en Ciudad Juárez, en una de las muchas “sub-ciudades” que conforman el inmenso caos urbano llamado Ciudad de México, una maestra de primaria dijo, “Juárez está en nuestros clósets”. Ella pensaba en los pequeñitos que ve todos los días en la escuela, violados, golpeados, maltratados, forzados a actuar como si todo estuviera bien, como si su casa fuera un lugar feliz y la vida una rebanada de pastel. Y claro, ¿cómo va ella a sugerir que el alma, la mente y el cuerpo de este niño están siendo sistemáticamente asesinados? Sus padres lo negarán, sus hermanos, e incluso sus abuelos y tías lo negarán. Ni pío dirán. Lo que sucede detrás de nuestros muros, es nuestro asunto…

Pero, ¿saben qué? Ya no más. Lo que sucede dentro de los EEUU es tan mi asunto como lo que sucede en Nicaragua, en China o en Portugal, y lo que suceda en la casa de cualquier niño, debe de ser tan mi asunto como lo que sucede en la mía. Mucho se está diciendo (y supuestamente haciendo, pero, ¿quién le cree a los políticos?) sobre la actual crisis en la frontera de los EEUU. Yo no tengo respuestas, ni siquiera pretendo ofrecer un análisis de verdad, tal es la tarea de los “expertos”. Lo único que puedo decir sobre estos niños es que, ¡al menos están vivos! Todavía hay esperanza, excepto que, enviarlos de vuelta significa negárselas, una vez más. ¿Dónde está el amor, la compasión, la valentía en todo eso? Nuestros clósets están a punto de reventar.

Pilar Rodríguez Aranda @100TPC 2012Writing for Peace Adviser, Pilar Rodriguez Aranda is a poet, video artist, translator by trade and border-crosser by vocation. She was born in Mexico City, but lived in California, Texas, and New Mexico, for a total of 13 years; she presently lives in Malinalco, Estado de México and tries to commute to the capital city only when necessary.

Click here to learn more about Pilar.

Writing for Peace News

Writing for Peace Young Writers' Contest2014 Young Writers Contest

Bios are up for our 2014 Young Writers Contest Winners. Learn more about these talented young writers, and leave them a kind word! Submission Guidelines for our 2015 Young Writers Contest will go live on September 1st, 2014.

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Our beautiful “Contrast” 2014 Issue of DoveTales has been delayed due to printing issues. We should have a release date very shortly! We apologize for the delay, and thank you for your patience.

 

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Malala Yousafzai’s Journey to the UN, by Alexandra Kinias

Malala Yousafzai’s Journey to the UN

by Alexandra Kinias

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a breath of fresh air in an environment polluted with gunpowder and radicalism. She is a spring blossom growing in a field of thorny bushes, only to be injured by their needles. In October 2012, on her way back from school, Malala’s school bus was ambushed by the Taliban. She was shot with one bullet, which went through her head, neck, and ended in her shoulder. The young girl was left to die, together with two of her friends who were also shot on site. She was fifteen years old.

Though Malala was not the first to be assaulted by this terrorist group, she was specifically targeted in this tragic attack that was condemned worldwide. Many other girls face the same fate together with their teachers in sporadic attacks around Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan where the Taliban influence dominates. The girls’ only crime was going to school.

Malala’s journey to recover from her brain injuries was remarkable, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The young girl has demonstrated, throughout her life, nothing but strength, resilience and courage.

Growing up in the Swat province in Pakistan, Malala had experienced the Taliban’s rule first hand. A smart young student, in 2009, at the age of 12, she wrote for a BBC blog under a pseudo name about her experience living under the Taliban during the battle of Swat. As the war intensified, her family was dispersed from their hometown and Malala ended up living in a refugee camp for a few months. Later that year, after her family reunited at the end of the war, she returned home only to find that the Taliban had closed the girls’ schools. Inspired by her father’s activism in political life, Malala committed herself to become a politician and an activist for girl’s rights. In the documentary for the NYTimes, Class Dismissed, she explained why she wanted to be involved in the political life, “I have a new dream … I must be a politician to save this country. There are so many crises in our country. I want to remove these crises.”

By the end of 2009, she had received wide international exposure and began to publicly advocate for female education. She brought the world’s attention to the critical situation of girl’s education in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In her speeches, she bravely condemned the rule of the Taliban and demanded the right of girls to go to school. After receiving the National Youth Peace Prize in Pakistan, her name received wider recognition, but that came with a price: her life was in peril. At the age of 12, Malala was receiving death threats from the Taliban. But in defiance of them, she didn’t deter from the active role and the course of life she had set for herself. As the death threats failed to silence her, the Taliban leaders unanimously agreed to kill her in a meeting they held in the summer of 2012.

The Pakistani Taliban justified their failed assassination attempt by claiming Malala was the symbol of the infidels and obscenity, and announced that, if she survived, the group would target her again. They blamed her father for encouraging her to attack the Taliban in her speeches. According to the Taliban, Malala’s defending her right and the right of girls to go to school was propaganda against Islam, but the truth of the matter is that the Taliban view women’s education as a direct threat to them and what they represent. Malala was shot in the head. They wanted to blow her brain out. That’s exactly what the Taliban want; to rob women their right and privilege to think. Taliban fear the education of women. With girl’s education they will lose their control and dominance over them, this control that only thrives with ignorance.

After the recovery from this reprehensible attack, Malala emerged stronger and more resilient than ever. On July 12, 2013, on her sixteenth birthday, she delivered a speech to the UN that was viewed by millions of people worldwide. On the event that was dubbed as Malala Day, she was draped with the shawl of the late Benazir Buhto, the Pakistani politician who was also assassinated by another radical group. Malala captivated hearts with her speech and received multiple standing ovations as she delivered her powerful statement that incited peace, forgiveness, courage and strength. Her speech to the UN was not just a blow to the terrorists who wanted to silence her, but also a reminder of which side the world is standing. The battle between darkness and light is long and fierce. Even though the weapons of the darkness are more deadly, but as Malala said in her speech, “Pens are mightier than guns.”

The aspiring young woman is setting an example of hope and determination. She is a role model of defiance for all the girls who are battling to go to school under inhumane conditions, and bullets. Malala believes that education is the only hope for a better future and she is determined to fight for every child’s right for education.“So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,” Malala said.

To view Malala’s Speech at the UN, click here.

Reprinted with permission from “Silenced Voices, Wasted Lives.”

Alexandra Kinias, Writing for Peace AdviserAbout Alexandra Kinias

Born and raised in Egypt, Alexandra Kinias graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 1987. She pursued a career overseas with a multinational corporation that built power distribution plants on the Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda.  She moved to America in 1995 and worked for a company that did business in the Middle East and Europe. In American, Alexandra began her career as a writer. She studied screenplay and creative writing. A screenplay writer, novelist and a photographer. Her passion for movies, books, art and extensive world traveling is translated in her writing and photography. She co-wrote the story of the movie Cairo Exit, censored in Egypt, yet received international recognition and won best non-European film in the European Independent Film festival.

She is an advocate for women’s rights. Her blog Silenced Voices, Wasted lives is dedicated to women’s issues in general and women in the Middle East in particular. Her published fiction novel Black Tulips takes place between Egypt and the USA. Black Tulips reveals the hardships that women living in male dominant societies are exposed to. Her articles are published in Kalimat magazine, a North American publication about the Arab region. Alexandra lives with her husband in Scottsdale, AZ and she is working on her non-fiction book Silenced Voices, a collage of her articles about women’s issues. Learn more about Alexandra Kinias and her work here.

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Writing for Peace Young Writers' Contest2014 Young Writers Contest

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

DoveTales Call for Submissions

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

Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Blood and Bone, by Mary Carroll-Hackett

In memory of Trayvon Martin

Blood and Bone

By Mary Carroll-Hackett

Thirty minutes ago, five minutes after the Not Guilty verdict was announced in the trial in which George Zimmerman was charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, my oldest son J texted me to let me know when he would be coming home tonight, signing off with Love you, Mom. That’s when I started to cry.

Among much other excellent world-saving work, Writing for Peace is exploring Women’s Rights and Gun Violence.

Tonight is about both.

These are not intellectual pursuits. These are blood and bone issues, central to survival for each of us. The current state of our culture and government is literally ripping the precious flesh of who we are as a species, who we should be sharing this planet with other species.

The rights of mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, nieces, are being reduced to political weaponry, weapons of a theocracy of fear.

Our children are dying.

That’s what we should fear.

Women will die.

Your sister. Your cousin. Your daughter. Bleeding out on a table somewhere as a result of an unsafe now-illegal medical procedure that’s nobody’s business but her own.

My mama always said, “Your rights end where another person’s rights begin.”

Right to life also applies to a woman’s right to decisions about her own body. It applies to second graders feeling safe in their classrooms. It applies to young women and men having the education and guidance to make smart birth control decisions before bringing more hungry babies into this world. And it applies to all of us mamas, half asleep, but listening for our teenage and young adult sons to come back in through that door safely.

These are not just political concepts to be argued over, filibustered, parlayed for profit and power. These are blood and bone realities.

Trayvon’s mama will replay her own version of bullet to bone again and again in her mind. And she will keep listening for that door to open, y’all. Forever, she will be listening.

Love you, Mom.

Mary Carroll-Hackett, Writing for Peace AdviserMary Carroll-Hackett earned an MFA in Literature and Writing from Bennington College in June 2003. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in more than a hundred journals including Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, The Potomac, Reed, Superstition Review, Drunken Boat and The Prose-Poem Project, among others. Her awards include being named a North Carolina Blumenthal Writer and winner of the Willamette Award for Fiction. She had an O Henry Recommended recognition for her story “Placing,” and her collection of poems, The Real Politics of Lipstick, won the 2010 annual poetry competition by Slipstream. Her chapbook Animal Soul, is forthcoming this year from Kattywompus Press. She has taught writing for nearly 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 teaches writing workshops on Writing Grief and Loss, Writing the Body, and Writing the Earth in partnership with The Porches Writers Retreat in Virginia, and will be offering writing workshops also for the foundation Little Pink Houses of Hope, a charity offering beach treats for breast cancer patients and their families. She was also recently invited to participate in Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know, an international project curated by Annette Marie Hyder, celebrating the diversity of feminism found throughout the world. Mary founded and has edited for the last nine years The Dos Passos Review, Briery Creek Press, and The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry. Most recently, she co-founded and launched SPACES, an innovative online magazine of art and literature, featuring videos of writers reading. Mary is currently at work on a collection of personal essays.

Learn more about Mary Carroll-Hackett here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

I Do Not Wish to Obsess, by Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

This spring, Writing for Peace looks at gun violence, as well as violence against women and other issues of women’s equality.

Pilar Rodriguez Aranda, Writing for Peace Adviser

No es que quiera obsesionarme

by Pilar Rodríguez Aranda
Translation by Rosarela Meza

No es que quiera obsesionarme
pero cuándo
dejaré de escuchar
noticias absurdas y violentas
(penetración en todos los orificios)
En todos
En todas

Cuándo
dejaré de leer
sobre feminicidios irresolutos
(sospechosos en camionetas negras)
La esperanza ennegrecida
Negro el futuro

Cuándo
dejaré de enterarme
de números y estadísticas
(Más años de cárcel recibe un ladrón
que el asesino de su mujer
si se sospecha que ha sido infiel)

Cuándo
dejaré de conocer
los detalles de sus muertes
(acuchillada 57 veces)
Violada
Torturada

Cuándo
dejaré de alterarme
al imaginar su mirada
su ignorancia y su inocencia

Cuándo
dejaré de creer
que para ser mujer hay que negarse
(no salgas, no vistas, no seas)
que si te atreves a afirmarte
te obligan a callarte
te golpean, te matan
y al final
te culpan

No. No me quiero obsesionar
pero cómo
dejar de pensar
que esos asesinos victoriosos
(que no pueden ser hombres)
existen en la misma superficie
y respiran el mismo oxígeno

Siento que va a caer
una lágrima, pero en vez
bien adentro, algo se endurece

La piedra de la fe, lava
que se enfría
cuando debiera explotar y derretirlo todo

pero para ello, necesitaría un poco más de ternura…
Si no, cómo
podré entonces soltar
esta desesperanza endurecida
para que no me rasgue por dentro
como hicieron con ellas
Todas ellas…

¿Cómo fue que extraviamos
nuestra alma colectiva?
Cuándo… cómo…
No hay duda del qué ni del dónde
Aquí y hoy
aquí y hoy

Cuándo
dejaré de sentir
que hoy y aquí
no nos merecemos

México, DF, 2010

I Do Not Wish to Obsess

I do not wish to obsess
but when
will I stop listening
to absurd and violent news
(penetration in all orifices)
In all of them
All of them

When
will I stop reading
about unresolved femicides
(suspects in black SUVs)
Blackened hope
Blackened future

When
will I stop finding out
numbers and statistics
(a thief gets more years in jail
than a man who has killed his wife
because she is suspected of infidelity)

When
will I stop learning
the details of their deaths
(knifed 57 times)
Raped
Tortured

When
will I stop feeling upset
imagining their gaze
their ignorance and innocence

When
will I stop thinking
that to be a woman one has to deny oneself
(don’t go out, don’t dress up, don’t be)
that if you dare to be assertive
you are forced to be silent
they beat you, they kill you
and at the end
they blame it on you

No. I do not wish to obsess
but how
can I stop thinking
that those victorious murderers
(who cannot be men)
exist on the same surface
and breath the same oxygen

I feel a teardrop about to fall
but instead,
deep within, something hardens

The stone of faith, lava
getting cold
when it should explode and melt it all

But for that, I need a little more tenderness…
If not, how
can I then let go
of this hardened hopelessness
so that it doesn’t tear my insides
like they did with them
All of them…

¿When and how was it that we lost
our collective soul?
When… how…
No doubt about the what and the where
Here and today
here and today

When
will I stop feeling
that today and here
we do not deserve ourselves

Translation by Rosarela Meza

About Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

Pilar Rodríguez Aranda @100TPC 2012Pilar Rodriguez Aranda is a poet, video artist, translator by trade and border-crosser by vocation. She was born in Mexico City, but lived in California, Texas, and New Mexico, for a total of 13 years; she presently lives in Malinalco, Estado de México and tries to commute to the capital city only when necessary.

She originally wanted to become a filmmaker, and started doing video while in college. Her piece “The Idea We Live In,” won first place at the 1991 Athens International Film and Video  Festival, in Ohio, and at the Bienal de Video de México, 1992 (plus an honorary mention for scriptwriting); “The Unexpected Turn of Jim Sagel,” was “Best New Mexican Film” at the Roswell Film Festival in 1994, and “Return, or the Inexactness of Centre” was selected for the 2008 International Videopoetry Showcase (Argentina). Her video work has been shown in several festivals and museums in Europe and America. She has received grants from the Mexican Institute of Cinematography (IMCINE), the National Fund for the Culture and the Arts (FONCA), and the City of Austin Arts Commission, among others.

As a writer, she published her first poem in a student magazine, and since then, she has continued to publish poetry, articles and reviews in various magazines and anthologies in North America, like Voices of Mexico, Replicante, Ruptures, Tribuno del Pueblo, Saguaro, The America’s Review, Bilingual Review, DoveTales, and Mujeres de Maíz Flor y Canto, and Voces sin fronteras II, Éditions Alondras, Montreal, Quebec, to mention a few. In 2012 she published her first book of poetry, Asunto de mujeres (Story of Women), Cascada de Palabras, México. In february of 2013, she received as an award for her poem Nuestras Luchitas, a scholarship to participate at the 8th Annual San Miguel Writers’ Conference.

She makes a living as translator (http://pilartraductora.blogspot.mx), but has also published, most recently in the anthology Cantar de Espejos: poesía testimonial chicana de mujeres (Song of Mirrors: Chicana Women’s Testimonial Poetry) UNAM/Univ. del Claustro de Sor Juana, 2012. She just edited and translated into English, the anthology ¡Esos malditos escuincles!, 25 young Mexican poets 30 and under, for Big Bridge webzine.

She considers herself an “artivist” and is a founding member of the collective Contra la violencia, el arte (Against Violence, Art), and coordinator for 100 Thousand Poets for Change, Mexico chapter.

Writing for Peace News:

Pilar Rodriguez Aranda Joins WfP Advisory Panel

Pilar Rodriguez Aranda, Writing for Peace AdviserEver since I understood the positive effect breaking the cycle of silence and bearing witness, I have felt my writing had a purpose. So, I have tried bringing to light subject matters that usually are kept secret (incest, abuse), or that are unpleasant (like femicide) to talk about; I also have felt strongly the incoherence of War and the discourse behind the “reasoning” for its existence. A society that accepts the death penalty or justifies war, is only reinforcing the acceptance of violence as normal.  Everywhere I’ve lived, I have become involved with the community, and the themes and concerns have usually been the same: art and culture, women’s issues and peace. However, it really has been in the last 2 years that I have found a way to finally merge my passion and my writing through my participation in 100 Thousand Poets for Change. In both editions I have found myself working (and learning from) the youngest of poets as well as from very young students who are still searching for their calling. After having learned more about Writing for Peace and their work with young people, it seemed natural to follow my “habit” of laying out bridges. I am grateful to be part of this project and hope to bring to it many Mexican and Latin American young voices.

~Pilar Rodriguez Aranda

Check out Pilar’s links here.

DoveTales is now available for purchase!

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013We are excited to announce that the print copies of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, “Occupied” 2013. Support Writing for Peace  now by purchasing your copy here.

DoveTales is a full color journal, featuring poetry, essays, and fiction from our contest winners, established and emerging writers, as well as art and photography. Writing for Peace Artist-In-Residence Pd Lietz’s artwork is featured on the cover and throughout the journal.  We are grateful for the support of Colgate University Research Council, which provided a $500 grant as a partial underwriting of the initial publication of DoveTales.

In our first issue of DoveTales, writers and artists explored the many definitions of the “Occupied” theme in brilliant and unexpected ways. Contributors include: Chrissie Morris Brady, Andrea W. Doray, Kim Goldberg, Veronica Golos, Nancy Aidé González, Sam Hamill, Denny Hoffman, Michael Lee Johnson, Adam Jones, Ron Koppelberger, Pd Lietz, Paul Lindholt, Cory Lockhart, Shannon K. Lockhart, Ellen Meeropol, Mark A. Murphy, Tricia Orr, Kenneth Pobo, Linda Quennec, Nausheen Rajan, Shirani Rajapakse, April Salzano, Nizar Sartawi, Laura Solomon, John Stocks, Julie Stuckey, Samantha Peters Terrell, Richard Vargas. Contributor biography pages will appear on our website soon.

All proceeds for Writing for Peace publications and products go to support our mission, including future Young Writers Contests, DoveTales and other peace publications, and workshops. We invite you to show your support for the Writing for Peace mission by  purchasing your copy today!

Young Writers Contest

Winners for our 2013 Young Writers Contest were announced on May 1st!  Check out the announcement here. Winners will be contacted soon to make arrangements for award payments. Every participating young writer will shortly receive a certificate of participation. Finalists will be notified individually and may be considered for future publication.  The 2014 Young Writers Contest Guidelines will be posted on June 1st, 2013.

Open Forum: MCH-What’s Going On?

Writing for Peace Adviser, Mary Carroll-Hackett, invites all young writers to join her students in posting and discussing current event articles on her open Facebook page,  MCH-What’s Going On?Learn more about Mary Carroll-Hackett’s work here.

In Our Blog~

This spring, Writing for Peace will look at gun violence and women’s equality, two important issues that are often intertwined. We’ll take a step back from the inflammatory gun control debate by exploring the subject through poetry, essays and fiction. Links to previous posts on these topics can be found below:

Silent Day, by Richard Krawiec

What Happens When We Lose Our Innocence? by Andrea W. Doray

Where Peace Begins, by Cara Lopez Lee

Opportunity, and Public Encouragement, by Richard Krawiec

A Stranger in Trouble, Part One, by Vicki Lindner

A Stranger in Trouble, Part Two, by Vicki Lindner

Exit Wound, by Melissa Hassard

Circle Jerk, by Pd Lietz

A Glimpse, by Alexandra Kinias

Every Month is Women’s History Month, by Andrea W. Doray

This is Where I’ll Die, Translated by Maija Rhee Devine

Like Taking Off Boots, by Maija Rhee Devine

The Flaming Cliffs of One’s Heart, by Adriana Paramo

Weary of a Violent Vocabulary, by Andrea W. Doray

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Weary of a Violent Vocabulary, by Andrea W. Doray

This spring, Writing for Peace looks at gun violence, as well as violence against women and other issues of women’s equality.

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberWeary of a Violent Vocabulary

by Andrea W. Doray

 The other day, the building where I was working was on lockout. There was a shooter in the office park and police had sealed off the area. They were pursuing a person of interest in the incident, an alleged gunman who was still at large and presumed armed and dangerous. The targeted victim survived the attack and was transported to the hospital with unknown injuries.

Lockout, shooter, sealed off.

Gunman, at large, armed and dangerous.

Target, victim, attack.

Considered alone, each of these words and phrases has a very different meaning from when they are strung together to describe yet another event of violence in our communities. Such words, common enough on their own, are now a part of a growing lexicon of carnage, a new vocabulary of violence.

I, for one, am sick and tired of it.

I’m sickened by the loss, the grief, the terror, the waste…sickened by randomness, senselessness, and injustice.

And I’m tired of trying to use our everyday language to give these vicious acts some sort of meaning.

When did “lockout” come to mean more than forgetting my keys, and a “shooter” more than a short glass full of strong stuff?

Why are victims “targets?” Targets are for archery practice and marketing plans and weight-loss goals, not the end results of violent actions. And I’d much rather leave high-speed chases to the Indy 500 and abductions to aliens.

And when did a suspect become a “person of interest?” This sounds more like speed dating to me. I can’t help but wonder if this is a case of art imitating life or life imitating art…in this case, a TV drama of the same name.

I do understand, of course, why we need to use such language carefully, including the word “alleged.” The right to a presumption of innocence in the United States is not shared in all courtrooms around the world.

Of course, this word-choice policy exists to prevent a rush to justice—generated by a rush to scoop the news that often results in misidentification, miscommunication, and wild speculation—but lately, this concession has been stretched to ridiculous levels. For example, as the hearings for James Holmes were taking place recently, I heard the events at the theaters in Aurora, Colorado, described as the “alleged shootings.”

Wait a minute…all the circumstances surrounding this tragedy are yet to be known fully, but the shootings themselves aren’t “alleged”—they happened.

That’s one reason why I’m sick and tired and saddened that a beautiful, powerful, well-respected, and well-loved language is being corrupted to include this new vocabulary of violence.

I’d much rather think of an “attack” as coming from the flu, and of a “shot” as something to protect me from it.

That’s a lexicon I can live with.

 

 About Andrea W. Doray

Andrea W. Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberAndrea Doray is a writer, media watcher, and careful consumer of the news. She serves as a board member for Writing for Peace and is a contributing editor on its international journal, DoveTales.

Learn more about Andrea W. Doray here.

 

Writing for Peace News:

Mary Carroll-Hackett Joins WfP Advisory Panel

Writing for Peace is pleased to welcome Mary Carroll-Hackett to our Advisory Panel. Mary is an award-winning author, poet, editor, and educator.

Jonas Salk said “Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.” I heard my mama say this when I was a child, and it, from that moment, changed and shaped the way I saw and moved through the world. As a parent and as an educator, to me, there is no greater gift nor more sacred trust than to honor the gifts given me by those who came before by doing whatever I can to help the young ones following behind us, Writing for Peace, particularly for me with their work with young people, will be the way we heal this world, heal and love each other. I’m humbled and honored to be a part of it.

~Mary Carroll-Hackett

Mary Carroll-Hackett, Writing for Peace AdviserMary Carroll-Hackett earned an MFA in Literature and Writing from Bennington College in June 2003. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in more than a hundred journals including Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, The Potomac, Reed, Superstition Review, Drunken Boat and The Prose-Poem Project, among others. Her awards include being named a North Carolina Blumenthal Writer and winner of the Willamette Award for Fiction. She had an O Henry Recommended recognition for her story “Placing,” and her collection of poems, The Real Politics of Lipstick, won the 2010 annual poetry competition by Slipstream. Her chapbook Animal Soul, is forthcoming this year from Kattywompus Press. She has taught writing for nearly 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.

Mary Carroll-Hackett invites all young writers to join her students in posting and discussing current event articles on her open Facebook page,  MCH-What’s Going On?.

Learn more about Mary Carroll-Hackett’s work here.

 WfP Adviser Visits Fort Collins High School

Maija Rhee Devine, Writing for Peace Adviser

Kellan McTague, a junior at Fort Collins High School, shared that his grandfather had been a veteran of the Korean War. “Your grandfather saved my life,” said Devine.

Author, poet, and Writing for Peace Adviser, Maija Rhee Devine, visited Fort Collins High School last week to read from her debut novel, Voices of Heaven. The novel was first written as a memoir about her experiences as a young girl during the Korean War. As the North Korean and Chinese armies invaded, Devine’s family fled along with thousands of others through snow and freezing temperatures, carrying their possessions in bags on their heads. Some men, she said, balanced mattresses on their heads in hopes that the extra padding would protect them from flying bullets. Students in Mitch Schneider’s language arts classes listened with rapt attention as Devine described how her mother would cover her eyes when they came upon bombing victims, or as people beside them were struck by sniper bullets. They boarded a boxcar without windows or seats where desperate men clung to the outside of the cars, until they froze and fell to their deaths.

Maija Rhee Devine, Writing for Peace Adviser

Fort Collins High School sophomore, Margarita Gutierrez, and visiting author, Maija Rhee Devine.

Devine explained the Confucian culture that made boys necessary to families, not only for the security of elderly parents, but to perform the ceremonial feasts that ensured the well-being of three generations of ancestors in the afterlife. A man and wife who were unable to produce a male heir would commonly secure a mistress, either maintaining a second household, or bringing her into the home. This was the case in her family, when fifteen harmonious years of marriage failed to produce a male heir. Her novel opens with her family preparing for the arrival of the new mistress amid rumors of war.

Maija Rhee Devine, Writing for Peace Adviser

Fort Collins High School student, Erik Garcia Arellano, and visiting author, Maija Rhee Devine.

Devine said the process to transform her memoir into a novel had taken ten years, but ultimately had freed her to explore voices of other characters within the story. She read about the arrival of the new mistress from her own perspective as a little girl, as well as her mother’s, father’s, and the mistress herself. Devine challenged Schneider’s students to think back to an emotional event in their own lives and write about it in the voice of another character.

The Voice of Heaven, by Maija Rhee DevineMaija Rhee Devine, a Korean-born writer whose fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Boulevard, North American Review, and The Kenyon Review, and in various anthologies, holds a B.A. in English from Sogang University in Seoul, and an M.A. in English from St. Louis University.  Writing honors include an NEA grant and nominations to Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Awards. Maija Rhee Devine is a member of the Writing for Peace Advisory Panel.

Learn more about Maija here.

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013DoveTales is now available for purchase!

We are excited to announce that the print copies of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, “Occupied” 2013, are now available to purchase on our website here.

DoveTales is a full color journal, featuring poetry, essays, and fiction from our contest winners, established and emerging writers, as well as art and photography. Writing for Peace Artist-In-Residence Pd Lietz’s artwork is featured on the cover and throughout the journal.  We are grateful for the support of Colgate University Research Council, which provided a $500 grant as a partial underwriting of the initial publication of DoveTales.

In our first issue of DoveTales, writers and artists explored the many definitions of the “Occupied” theme in brilliant and unexpected ways. Contributors include: Chrissie Morris Brady, Andrea W. Doray, Kim Goldberg, Veronica Golos, Nancy Aidé González, Sam Hamill, Denny Hoffman, Michael Lee Johnson, Adam Jones, Ron Koppelberger, Pd Lietz, Paul Lindholt, Cory Lockhart, Shannon K. Lockhart, Ellen Meeropol, Mark A. Murphy, Tricia Orr, Kenneth Pobo, Linda Quennec, Nausheen Rajan, Shirani Rajapakse, April Salzano, Nizar Sartawi, Laura Solomon, John Stocks, Julie Stuckey, Samantha Peters Terrell, Richard Vargas. Contributor biography pages will appear on our website soon.

All proceeds for Writing for Peace publications and products go to support our mission, including future Young Writers Contests, DoveTales and other peace publications, and workshops. We invite you to show your support for the Writing for Peace mission by  purchasing your copy today!

Young Writers Contest

Our 2013 Young Writers Contest closed on March 1st with 106 entries from 21 different countries. We will announce the decisions of judges William Haywood Henderson (fiction), Phyllis Barber (nonfiction), and Michael J. Henry (poetry) on May 1st, 2013. Every participating young writer will receive a certificate of participation, which will be mailed this month. The 2014 Young Writers Contest Guidelines will be posted on June 1st, 2013.

In Our Blog~

This spring, Writing for Peace will look at gun violence and women’s equality, two important issues that are often intertwined. We’ll take a step back from the inflammatory gun control debate by exploring the subject through poetry, essays and fiction. Links to previous posts on these topics can be found below:

Silent Day, by Richard Krawiec

What Happens When We Lose Our Innocence? by Andrea W. Doray

Where Peace Begins, by Cara Lopez Lee

Opportunity, and Public Encouragement, by Richard Krawiec

A Stranger in Trouble, Part One, by Vicki Lindner

A Stranger in Trouble, Part Two, by Vicki Lindner

Exit Wound, by Melissa Hassard

Circle Jerk, by Pd Lietz

Every Month is Women’s History Month, by Andrea W. Doray

This is Where I’ll Die, Translated by Maija Rhee Devine

Like Taking Off Boots, by Maija Rhee Devine

The Flaming Cliffs of One’s Heart, by Adriana Paramo

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.