Category Archives: Uncategorized

Our Tenth Anniversary Year Opens with Poet Lauren Camp

Ten years ago, Writing for Peace began with an idea about the power of creative writing to spark empathy in the minds of both the reader and the writer. We challenged young writers to harness that power, and then began collecting work from writers all over the world in our literary journal, DoveTales. We’re celebrating during the month of January with 50% off all our books (while supplies last). Use the Promotion code, YEAR10.

Producer Juniper Moon hosts tonight’s Sunday LIVE.

Tonight, producer Juniper Moon welcomes poet Lauren Camp to our first Sunday LIVE of the New Year. “I’m looking forward to hearing what she decides to share with us tonight and to learn more about her and how she moves through the world,” says Juniper.

Poet Lauren Camp’s latest book is Took House (Tupelo Press, 2020).

Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press, 2020), which Publishers Weekly calls a “stirring, original collection.” Her poems and interviews have appeared in Witness, Poet Lore, The Rumpus, DoveTales and other journals in the US and abroad. Honors include the Dorset Prize and the National Federation of Press Women Book Prize, and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award, the Housatonic Book Award and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. Her work has been recognized with fellowships from Black Earth Institute and the Taft-Nicholson Center. A visiting scholar/poet at the Mayo Clinic, this year she was selected to be one of 100 international artists for 100 Offerings of Peace. Her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic. www.laurencamp.com

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Copyright © 2021 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Exciting News: Things Are Looking Up!

First, I want to say thank you, dear Writers for Peace. On Saturday, the continual state of shock and outrage of the last four years was replaced with hope. I’m grateful to everyone of you who marched and spoke out against countless horrors and injustices. Though you may have despaired, you never gave up on the democratic process. And, though we know full well that there is still work to be done, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief.  For us, at Writing for Peace, this is an opportunity to take stock of what we’ve accomplished in over nine years of literary activism. Together, we’ve grown tremendously.

I’m very excited to tell you about our latest good news. Adviser Robert Kostuck has agreed to take the position of DoveTales Editor-in-Chief. Many of you know Robert from his role as Guest Editor for our February DoveTales, Gardens in the Desert: Cultivating Awareness (available in print on December 1st). Robert also served as Chief Associate Editor for our Resistance DoveTales. He is an excellent editor, and it’s been a pleasure working with him on these books.

As a long-time member of our Panel of Advisers, Robert Kostuck believes strongly in our mission. In his words, “I feel driven to participate more fully with WFP and to embody and act upon the words of the mission statement: ‘Through education and creative writing, Writing for Peace seeks to cultivate the empathy that allows minds to open to new cultural views, to value the differences as well as the hopes and dreams that unite all of humanity, to develop a spirit of leadership and peaceful activism.’ I’ve come to realize that convictions must be put into practice, otherwise they are not convictions, but merely wishful thinking.”

Stay tuned for more good news in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, don’t miss this Sunday’s Live Reading when Robert Wrigley joins host Brad Wetzler. Be sure to invite your friends and family to join us for this special night, Sunday, November 15th, at 8pm ET.

Robert Wrigley’s most recent book is Box (Penguin, 2017).  A collection of essays, mostly on poetry, Nemerov’s Door, will be published next spring by Tupelo Press.  Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Idaho, he lives in the woods of northern Idaho, with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.

Stay safe and keep on writing,

Carmel Mawle
President and Founder,
Writing for Peace


Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Live Reading Moves to Sundays with Brad Wetzler

Beginning, Sunday, October 18th, the Writing for Peace Live Reading Series (held previously every other Friday) moves to every Sunday at 8pm ET with host Brad Wetzler.  Author, journalist, and teacher Brad Wetzler has served as Guest Editor of the Resistance edition of DoveTales and as co-host of our Friday Live Readings. His vision takes our reading series to exciting new heights.

Says Brad, “My hope is to continue the Writing for Peace tradition of having strong representation by black writers, people of color, LGTBQ+, international writers, etc. Since we are living in challenging times both politically and personally, I hope to devote time to the issues of artists’ responsibilities to use their voices, as well as issues around writing process, and, of course, matters of using our art and voices to promote inner and world peace. I also hope to occasionally invite important voices from the spiritual community to discuss how we maintain inner peace and serve our fellow humans.”

His first show, on Sunday, October 18th, will feature author BK Loren to read both new and familiar work and discuss her views on a writer’s social responsibility and the path of the writer during difficult times. BK Loren is the author of Theft: A Novel and Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food.

Meeting ID: 828 9897 7722

On Sunday, October 25th, author David Gilbreath Barton will join us to read from his new book Havel: Unfinished Revolution, a biography of Vaclav Havel, Czech statesman, writer, and former political dissident, who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 and then as the first President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. David Gilbreath Barton is a Jungian psychotherapist, with 25 years of experience in working with dreams, myths, and the collective unconscious. He’s an Associate Professor of Humanities at Northern New Mexico College and the founder of The Salt Journal and the Salt Institute.

Meeting ID: 828 9897 7722

So, beginning October 18th, be sure to set aside an hour in your Sunday evenings to be enlightened and inspired with Brad Wetzler and his guests.

If you missed any of our readers, you can watch them in full here.


An Important Message from W4P President, Carmel Mawle

I would never presume to tell you how to vote. That said, November is sneaking up on us (like a Mack Truck), so this is a friendly reminder to make a plan now to get your votes in as early as possible. As writers, ink on a page is the beginning of endless possibilities. The same may be true of inking in the little blank boxes on your ballots. If you need help getting to the polls or mailing your ballots, there is help available. If you go to the polls in person, wear your masks and stay safe. Whatever happens after this election, we will still need your voice. Thanks for all you do.


Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Resistance Coming Soon, James Scott Smith Reading, and Robert Kostuck Reviews Water, Rocks and Trees

Resistance Available Soon!

After some technical difficulties and delays, the print edition of Resistance is nearly finished and will be available for purchase this coming weekend, September 12th. (Post has been updated to reflect changed date.) Thank you for your patience!


Friday Live with James Scott Smith

This Friday, September 4th, at 8pm ET, James Scott Smith will read from his books, The Expanse of All Things and Water, Rocks and Trees, published by Homebound Publications.You can find the Friday Live Zoom link at the end of this post.

James Scott Smith lives on a creek on the front range of the Colorado Rockies. Working at home for the last 15 years, James is co-founder of Tava Creative Studios. He reads and writes when he isn’t capturing images or fishing the waters of hidden canyons. His award winning collections of poetry include Water, Rocks and Trees and, The Expanse of All Things, published by Homebound Publications. Check out his website here.

Robert Kostuck’s Review of Water, Rocks and Trees, by James Scott Smith

Is it the passing of time? Or is it the realization that time has passed? We reach a certain age and glibly speak of the ‘downslope’ or the ‘other side of fifty’, assured momentarily that those who went before always left something behind. And then we realize we are living our own ‘leave behind’ moments. This is the mature poet’s self-administered task—to elucidate clearly those moments that of insight. The day-to-day, the commonplace, the ordinary, the seemingly repetitive motions and words. James Scott Smith teaches us to dig down, sit or stand still, and allow those moments to supersede everything else.

The wildflowers
are striving into October as
sunlight still conspires with the
soil, with the
hidden in dark places. (“Wildflowers” 1-5)

Standing ’mongst the dogs all
squint of eye and crane of neck until I named the
circling turkey buzzard speck of cumulus nimbus.
Such scavengers bring me pause. (“Sky Burial” 1-4)

The ease and excellent use of alliteration and rhyme throughout these poems highlights how they are meant to be read aloud. There is the hint of a melody, reminiscent of singing and songs, for after all poetry preceded writing and words were sung before they were written. Nothing worse than a lifeless poem reduced to mere ink and paper – or an electronic file; fortunately this work lifts from the page and takes life just where the pen or keyboard stops.

To the one who remembers Pangaea
to the soul dredged deep of a
land before God broke bread of it with
mighty works of root and cause to christen
the continents cast across the waters; be strong. (“Old Soul” 1-5)

Three black crows on
blue borne sky.
One with crust of
bread in beak.
Two with crust of
bread in eye.
I to hear the
matter speak. (“Crows” 1-8)

In last light
I walked to the creek
to throw a line and
breathe easy. I have
fished from tundra to
tidewater. I have stood
by still waters since
my first years. (“In Last Light” 1-8)

Also an accomplished nature photographer, James Scott Smith incorporates what he sees into his writing. These poems are about observing, interpreting, and translating the reality of the natural world. These are the magic tricks—simplifying a complex ecosystem into an intense gaze, and making the moment mean everything. That moment is like the hottest molecule at the heart of a star, unique and singular, yet surrounded by literally everything that makes it what it is.

Taken
for weed, it is scab on
wound. It binds, holds,
seeds, dies, feeds. Rising
against the blight of
propriety, joining the
ways of the killdeer (. . . .) (“Alfalfa” 4-11)

It is morning
and the fitful dreams are rinsing out into the
one reality within the seen things. (“Tenalach” 11-13)

Good writing comes from the inner imagination, worldly experience, or a combination of both. James Scott Smith reaches that sweet spot by attending to the outer world which will go on without us. The cycle of the seasons, the ballet of birth, life, and death—every moment unique, and spellbinding for those who can see clearly and return to tell the tale.


Robert Kostuck is an M.Ed. graduate from Northern Arizona University. Recently published fiction, essays, and reviews appear or are forthcoming in the anthologies Everywhere Stories, Vols. II and III, Manifest West, Vol. VI, and DoveTales Vols. IV—VII; and many print and online journals including Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southwest Review, Louisiana Literature, Free State Review, Zone 3, Saint Ann’s Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Flyway: A Literary Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Silk Road, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Crab Creek Review, Takahē Magazine, Roanoke Review, EVENT, and Tiferet. He is currently working on short stories, essays, and novels. He lives near an ocean; his heart belongs to the Chihuahua and Sonora deserts, and certain parts of Nova Scotia.

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Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

2020 Young Writers Contest Results

We are excited to announce the winners of our 2020 Young Writers Contest, a challenge designed to develop empathy in our future leaders and introduce emerging young voices from all over the world. Our Young Writers Contest requires a commitment to research and the craft of writing, as well as a willingness to challenge personal assumptions. Entries from nearly every continent exemplified this commitment, and many of our young writers are working in a second language. This year we have added a $200 award for our Grand Prize Winner. We welcome writers from Cambodia, Kenya, Nepal, Romania, and Brazil, joining other young writers from a total of 30 countries. It has been an honor and privilege to read their work.

Completing this challenge is no small achievement and this year we received a record number of outstanding entries. We would like to acknowledge all of the young writers who took the time to research a new culture and write a story, essay, or poem for the Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest with an invitation to continue refining your craft through our Friday Live Readings, Young Writer Resources, and Youth Summits. We hope you will take advantage of our more accessible DoveTales Literary Journal online, reading the work of contributors hailing from all over this beautiful globe.

Additionally, we would like to thank the teachers and mentors who encouraged their students to take our challenge, and then guided them to prepare their best work. We would also like to thank the many volunteer readers who made this contest possible.

Our Grand Prize Winner, as well as first, second and third place winners’ work will be published on August 1st, 2020 online in our “Resistance” themed edition of DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, Guest Edited by Brad Wetzler. Finalists will be published here in our blog during the month of July.

2020 Young Writers Contest Winners

In Poetry~

First Place: Amy Liu from Warrington, Pennsylvania, United States, for “Confessions from Forgotten Fields.” Amy attends Central Bucks High School South and is in 11th Grade.

Second Place: Lauren Young from Stamford, Connecticut, United States, for “Burn.” Lauren attends Trinity Catholic High School and is in 12th Grade.

Third Place: Mariana Kovalik Silva from Curitiba, Brazil for “Tank Man.” Mariana attends Phillips Academy and is in 12th Grade.

Finalists: Giuliana Spanarelli from Fairfield, New Jersey, United States, for “I Am” and Adler Schultz from Newton, Massachusetts, United States, for “Thunder Over Warsaw.”

In Fiction~

First Place: Sofia Perez from Warwickshire, United Kingdom, for “The Atlas.” Sofia attends King’s Highschool for Girls and is in the 10th Grade.

Second Place: Maryam Muheeb from Lagos, Nigeria, for “Aster Street.” Maryam attends Livingstone Model College and is in 12th Grade.

Third Place: Lulu Griffin from La Grange, Illinois, United States, for “By the Light of a Lantern.” Lulu attends Lyons Township High School and is in 12th Grade.

Finalists: Sophia Fang from Sandiego, California, United States, for “Zongzi” and Karen Umeora from Jonesboro, Arkansas, United States, for “Beloved.”

In Nonfiction~

First Place: Aim Poonsornsiri, from Bangkok, Thailand for “Twisted Roots.” Aim attends Deerfield Academy and is in 11th Grade.

Second Place: Lydia Qin, from Los Angeles, California, United States, for “Silent Isolation.” Lydia attends North Hollywood High School and is in 10th Grade.

Third Place: Maxine Magtoto, from Pasig City, Philippines, for “Braving A New Frontier: The Case for Moroccan Linguistics.”  Maxine attends Brent International School Manila and is in 11th Grade.

Finalists: Se Eun Pak (Grade 10), South Korea, for “A Bloody Battle” and Seohyun Yoon (Grade 11), Virginia, United States, for “The Flower of Egypt.”

And the 2020 Grand Prize of $200 goes to…

Grand Prize Winner

Anya (Anna) Trofimova from London, United Kingdom, for her passionately astute poem “Observations Inspired by Rising Sea Levels.” Anna attends St. Paul’s Girls’ School and is in 10th Grade.


Congratulations to one and all!


Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

Connect to Veronica Golos Reading Here

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

Learn more about Veronica Golos’ latest book, GIRL.

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

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

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

About Veronica Golos

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

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

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

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


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

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


Call for Submissions: Resistance

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

 

Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

May 15, Friday Live with Wang Ping, A W4P Reading Series

An earlier post went out with the incorrect date.  Please note the reading is this coming Friday, May 15th.

This Friday, May 15th, at 8pm EDT, Writing for Peace welcomes poet and activist Wang Ping in the second of our Friday Live Series. Join us on Zoom to hear Wang Ping read from her new book, My Name Is Immigrant, and ask your questions as a part of the Writing for Peace community. 

Meeting I.D. 862-8000-5860  Password: 230669
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86280005860?pwd=S2tQOEpsaWdDSHJaRStST0hkZVg4QT09

About Wang Ping

Writing for Peace Adviser Wang PingWang Ping was born in Shanghai and grew up on a small island in the East China Sea. After three years farming in a mountain village, and with little prior formal education available, she attended Beijing University. In 1985 she left China to study in the U.S., earning her Ph.D. from New York University.

Her previous books include three collections of poetry, The Magic Whip, Of Flesh & Spirit, and Ten Thousand Waves; the cultural study Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (Eugene M. Kayden Award for Best Book in the Humanities); the novel Foreign Devil; two collections of fiction stories entitled American Visa (NYC Public Library Award for the Teen Age) and The Last Communist Virgin (Minnesota Book Award for Novel & Short Story and Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies for Poetry/Prose); a children’s book of Chinese folk lore, The Dragon Emperor; and a book of creative nonfiction, Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi (AWP Award Series Winner for Creative Nonfiction). She is also the editor and co-translator of the anthology New Generation: Poetry from China Today, co-translator of Flames by Xue Di, and co-translator of Flash Cards: Poems by Yu Jian.

Wang Ping is also a photographer and multimedia artist. Her exhibitions address global themes of industrialization, the environment, interdependency, and the people. She currently lives in St. Paul, MN, and is a professor of English at Macalester College and founder of the Kinship of Rivers project. Visit WangPing.com and KinshipOfRivers.org for more information.

Praise for Wang Ping

“Wang Ping has had a fascinating life between China and the United States. Meeting her for the first time in person was an impressive experience and my admiration for her only grew. Her work with rivers and with other aspects of the landscape is totally refreshing, and her broad intelligence, delightful political wit and poetic vision expands understanding of the American nation.”

— Gary Snyder, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the American Book Award


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

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


Call for Submissions: Resistance

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

 

Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Not Alone, by Carmel Mawle

Not Alone

By Carmel Mawle

“If you’re writing or editing or working on a book right now, it may be incredibly difficult because the future is so uncertain, but every word you put on paper is an affirmation of the fact that there will be a future. It’s a profound act of faith.”  ~ Talia Lavin

How are you holding up during this Corona Virus crisis, dear Writers? I wanted to reach out to say, though we may be isolating, you are not alone.

I am heartened to hear the many ways our community is working to help each other. Writers are sewing masks and raising money to purchase protective equipment for those on the front lines. They are delivering food and pharmaceuticals to their at-risk neighbors. And they are advocating for each other, sharing information about the virus and ways we can disinfect our groceries and mail.

While we likely share common fears, this crisis will affect each of us uniquely. For some, the isolation further compounds struggles with anxiety and depression, and some, with children and other family members home, have lost the quiet time when they did most of their writing. Remember to take care of yourselves, as well as others. Take time for daily prayer and meditation, listening to the music that reminds you of the miracle of this consciousness we share, eat for nutrition and joy, read books that nurture your happiness, take a nap. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Ultimately, writing is a solitary act. It could be that putting pen to page has prepared us for this Covid-19 isolation in ways many others are not. Those of us who are naturally introverted may even thrive in this solitude. If you are fortunate enough to find increasing energy during this time of quiet, I know you’ll remember to reach out to friends who are struggling.

Whether or not the challenges of writing for peace are greater, your words and wisdom are needed now more than ever in our lifetime. I hope you are all preparing your work for our Summer DoveTales. Continue to speak out, advocate, and resist.

Below are some emergency numbers. Take care of yourself. We’ll get through this. You’re not alone.


Dial 211 for United Way Hotline

A free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources they need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Our advocates are available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) in more than 200 languages. All calls are free and confidential.


Be safe and well. And keep in touch.

Carmel Mawle is founder of the nonprofit literary organization, Writing for Peace, and has served as Editor-in-Chief of DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts since 2013. A Pushcart Nominee, her short stories, essays and poetry have been published in literary journals and anthologies, including Smokelong Quarterly and Shake the Tree Anthology.

 

Thanks to Adviser Dinty W. Moore for sharing Talia Lavin‘s perfect quote (above).

Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

W4P Book Review: My Name Is Immigrant, by Wang Ping

In keeping with our goal of developing empathy, compassion, and awareness through education and creative writing, Writing for Peace is encouraging expanded reading through our partnership with Poetic Justice Books.

My Name Is Immigrant

by Wang Ping

Hanging Loose Press. 2020. 130 pp. $18.00. ISBN 978-1-934909-66-9

reviewed by Robert Kostuck

 

Old Home

“The population of Chinese immigrants in the United States has grown nearly seven-fold since 1980, reaching almost 2.5 million in 2018, or 5.5 percent of the overall foreign-born population. Whereas in 1980 Chinese immigrants did not appear among the ten largest foreign-born groups in the United States, China in 2018 replaced Mexico as the top sending country. After immigrants from Mexico and India, the Chinese represented the third largest group in the U.S. foreign-born population of nearly 45 million in 2018.” (1)

Wang Ping’s tenth book resonates with some of her previous themes, opened once again for deeper and wider exploration. The immigrant experiences are here, alternating with the cockleshell picker stories, all presented like random flowers that together form a bouquet. The title piece winds backwards and forward through time. The immigrants are generations of family, communicating with letters, envelopes, stamps. The charge is an electric current running with a branching blood line, and Wang finds her place among the many who left China and those who returned.

At sixteen, my father ran away from his widowed mother, to fight the Japanese. “I’ll come back with a Ph.D. and serve my country with better English and knowledge,” I pledged at the farewell party in Beijing, 1986.

Back from America, my mother furnished her apartment on the island, bought a new one in a suburb of Shanghai, and is seeking a third in Beijing. “A cunning rabbit needs three holes,” she wrote to us, demanding our contributions. They swore, before boarding the ship, that they’d send money home to bring more relatives over; in return, they were promised that if they died, their bodies would be sent back home for burial. I drink American milk—a few drops in tea. I eat American rice—Japanese brand. Chinese comes to me only in dreams—in black-and-white pictures. My mother buried her husband on the island of the East China Sea, where he lived for almost fifty years, after he ran away at sixteen, from his old home on the Yellow Sea. (“Lao Jia | Old Home”)

And those who lack the money, means, or connections. Here Wang gives a voice to those who are dispossessed. One feels her reaching out to embrace everyone who seeks a safe haven. Her research is evident in her poetic storytelling. Here, truly, form follows function. In an earlier book she brings forward the named and the unnamed. What’s missing in the American immigrant/migrant discussion is this lack of names. When experience is generic it becomes amorphous and gray, and unfortunately, boring. It becomes something we can scroll past, only registering the thought, Just another statistic. Stories are about people.

In this new book she gives out as many names as she can, for when experience is generic it becomes amorphous, gray, and generic.

Jakelin Caal Maquin was seven years old from Guatemala. She developed fever soon after she was separated from her father at the border. Within thirty-six hours, she died of cardiac arrest, brain swelling and liver failure.

Seventeen days later, Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, an eight-year-old boy from Guatemala, died of cardiac arrest, brain swelling and liver failure within thirty-six hours, soon after he crossed the border. (“Buried on Christmas Eve”)

an empty wave
ten thousand voices
broadcast the pain
please, oh please call our names
Chen Xinhan, Zhen Shimin
even if you can’t say them right
Lin Guoshui, Chen Dajie
even if you don’t know our origin or age
Wang Xin, Huang Changpin
please, oh please call us
raise our shadows from the moss
be gentle as you call our names (“Calling Ghosts from the Golden Venture”)

In pieces like “How To Cross the Line,” “An Immigrant Carol” and “Hui Jia | Circling Home” she all too briefly limns vignettes from her own past. Spaced throughout the book the author’s story blends with the immigrant stories of China, Syria, Guatemala, Honduras,

At fourteen, I left home on the big island of the East China Sea. I worked in a fishing village, for the one-in-a-million chance to go to college. I never returned. Three years later, I left the village to study English in Hangzhou. I never returned to the island. I left Hangzhou for Beijing University. My college dream came true at twenty-two. I left China in 1986, to pursue my Ph.D. at NYU. I never returned. “Go back home!” Americans scream, from streets, colleges, social media. Still, I never went back. I drift farther away from Weihai, my lao jia, carrying that old earth in my dreams. (“Hui Jia | Circling Home”)

 

Cockleshells

“The Morecambe Bay cockling disaster (Chinese: 拾貝慘案 Shí bèi cǎn’àn, “cockle-picking tragedy”) occurred on the evening of 5 February 2004 at Morecambe Bay in North West England, when at least 21 Chinese undocumented immigrant labourers were drowned by an incoming tide after picking cockles off the Lancashire coast.

David Anthony Eden, Sr., and David Anthony Eden, Jr., a father-and-son from England, had unlawfully hired a group of Chinese workers to pick cockles; they were to be paid £5 per 25 kg of cockles, (9p per lb.), far less than the typical local rate at the time.  The Chinese had been imported unlawfully via containers into Liverpool, and were hired out through local criminal agents of international Chinese Triads. The cockles to be collected are best found at low tide on sand flats at Warton Sands, near Hest Bank. The Chinese workers were unfamiliar with local geography, language, and custom. They were cut off by the incoming tide in the bay around 9:30 p.m.” (2)

Wang Ping has touched on the Morecambe Bay disaster before, notable in Ten Thousand Waves, and here she intersperses the body of her current book with vignettes told in the voices of those who died. Interestingly, David Anthony Eden, Sr., and David Anthony Eden, Jr. who hired the workers were cleared of any charges involved in these deaths.(2) In researching this disaster this reviewer found an archival website of jokes and alleged witticisms centered on these deaths.

Again, by giving names to the deceased Wang manages to bring each individual into focus. While we may not be able to see them as clearly as in a photograph, still, we can at least see a real person.

We pat the sand, we pat the san
Teasing cockles to the cold surface
We dig, we pick, we break our back
Bagging cockles for two pounds
They say we can return
When the bag is full (“Cockle Pickers: Wu Hongkang”)

Every night since I left home
I’ve been folding a boat
To rest my aching bones
How thin is the paper
Paler than winter (“Cockle Pickers: Chen Aiqin”)

The lichee tree we planted is blossoming
White flowers hide under dark green
The first moon comes and goes
But I haven’t returned as promised (“Cockle Pickers: Lin Guohua”)

The water is up to my chest
The boss got the time wrong
I can’t get back in time
This is my last call from the sea
Oh darling, can you hear me
Through raging waves
Washing me to the bay? (“Cockle Pickers: Guo Binglong”)

To not forget this tragedy is this poet’s calling. Through these memories she is able to establish a framework that shows how immigration is never smooth and does not always have a happy ending. She brings this forward in her writings about named contemporary migrants, showing how the tragic lines began long ago – even before Morecambe Bay – and bring us to the present. Central America, Syria, North Africa, the stateless Rohingya and Kurds—the list is finite but daunting. According to the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “The number of international migrants globally reached an estimated 272 million in 2019, an increase of 51 million since 2010.”(3)

Many flee repression, ethnic cleansing, drug wars, and genocide. Wang’s messages in the Cockle Pickers poems is that we should remember that migration is not an anomaly but an ongoing crisis. Can we open our arms, even a little, even for a short span of time? Can we practice acknowledgement, acceptance, and respect? Can we open our hearts? Can we share? We can. We will.

There is a homily that addresses this never-ending movement of people across the globe, and how we can honorably respond: “When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a bigger fence.”

(1) https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/chinese-immigrants-united-states

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Morecambe_Bay_cockling_disaster

(3) https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/international-migrant-stock-2019.html


Robert Kostuck is an M.Ed. graduate from Northern Arizona University. Recently published fiction, essays, and reviews appear or are forthcoming in the anthologies Everywhere Stories, Vols. II and III, Manifest West, Vol. VI, and DoveTales Vols. IV—VII; and many print and online journals including Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southwest Review, Louisiana Literature, Free State Review, Zone 3, Saint Ann’s Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Flyway: A Literary Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Silk Road, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Crab Creek Review, Takahē Magazine, Roanoke Review, EVENT, and Tiferet. He is currently working on short stories, essays, and novels. He lives near an ocean; his heart belongs to the Chihuahua and Sonora deserts, and certain parts of Nova Scotia.

 

Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Celebrating The New Year with A New DoveTales

Happy New Year Dear Writers for Peace!

We’re excited to announce that our new DoveTales Anthology: One World, One People, guest edited by Adviser Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Ph.D., is finally available for purchase! This gorgeous book is 240 pages of thought-provoking, enlightening, and inspiring poetry and prose, art and photography. One World, One People, collects all the work published in August from our first online DoveTales, including Writing for Peace advisers, Young Writers Contest Winners, Liberian Young Scholars, and prominent contributors from all across the globe.

We can’t think of a better way to ring in 2020 than with our very first annual Writing for Peace DoveTales Anthology. We hope you all love it as much as we do! You can purchase the anthology now through this link.

Best wishes for a very Happy New Year from all of us at Writing for Peace, and thank you for celebrating with us!

Carmel, and the Writing for Peace Board of Directors

Carmel Mawle is founder of the nonprofit literary organization, Writing for Peace, and has served as Editor-in-Chief of DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, since 2013. A Pushcart Nominee, her short stories, essays and poetry have been published in literary journals and anthologies, including Smokelong Quarterly and Shake the Tree Anthology.

Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.