Category Archives: Young Writers Contest Guidelines

2019 Young Writers Contest Winners Announcement

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We are thrilled to announce the winners to our 2019 Young Writers Contest, an annual event that introduces emerging young voices from all over the world. Participating in the Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest takes a commitment to research, an open mind, and refining the craft of writing. Entries from across the globe exemplified this commitment, and many of our young writers are working in a second language. This year we are excited to welcome writers from the Philippines, Morocco, and Japan, joining other forward thinking future leaders from a total of 27 countries. It has been an honor and privilege to read their work.

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 participate in our annual Youth Summit in October. Completing this challenge is no small achievement, and we salute your commitment to expanding your knowledge base and developing your craft.

We would also like to thank the teachers and mentors who encouraged their students to take our challenge, and then inspired and guided them to prepare their best work.

First, second and third place winners’ work will be published on August 1st, 2019 in our first online edition of DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, themed “One World, One People,” by guest editor Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley.

In Poetry~

First Place: Sharvari Deshpande from Pune, Maharashtra, India, for “In The Valleys of Kashmir.”

Second Place: Emmy Song from Rockville, Maryland, U.S. for “A Walk Down Lafayette Street.”

Third Place: Sarah Street from Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. for “Earth.”

In Fiction~

First Place: Lucas  Tucker from Moraga, California, U.S. for “Cleanse Your Nation.”

Second Place: Sally Liu from Holzheim, Germany, for “7,000 miles.”

Third Place: EbunOluwa Ojebode from Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria, for “Male ears, Dead End.”

In Nonfiction~

First Place: Christina Wang from Roswell, Georgia, U.S. for “Bringing Gender Back: How the Japanese Youth Connect With Their Culture By Foregoing Gender Norms.”

Second Place: Eunice Lee from Seoul, South Korea, for “When a Mommy Becomes a Nanny.”

Third Place: Junwon Lee from Seoul, South Korea, for “The Small but Mighty Survivors.”

Finalists~

Poetry: Lyndel Cas-ing from Baguio, Philippines, for “Bloom.”

Fiction: Andrea Lee from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, U.S. for “Chains of Greece.”

Nonfiction: Yu Jung Ro from Yeonsu-Gu, South Korea for “Thirty-Nine to Sixty-One.”

Congratulations to one and all!

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Recharge for Upcoming Writing Deadlines

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Hello fellow Writers for Peace,

I hope you are all enjoying the emerging spring, or conversely (for our friends in the southern hemisphere), the autumn colors. Here in the Rocky Mountains, the melting snow is filling the creek beds with icy whitewater and, after months of cold and snow, the slopes and meadows are greening up. When so much of what is reported by the corporate media is gloom and doom, we can still find hope in the changing colors of the seasons. Even in the concrete cities, nature finds its way into the cracks between slabs of pavement. Take a few moments to appreciate the life that is beyond our small scope and busy days; breathe in the earth’s ever-changing colors and recharge the energy that feeds your creativity. Don’t doubt that this troubled world is more beautiful because of what you bring to it.

I want to remind you of two important Writing for Peace deadlines coming up on June 1st:

Young Writers Contest GuidelinesFirst, is our Young Writers Contest for ages 13-19. Over the seven years we have offered this contest, we have had entries from 26 different countries. It’s an unusual challenge to develop the writers’ tool of empathy, to research and educate oneself on a new culture, the history, politics, even religious traditions and pressures of a region, and write from the perspective of a character within that culture. The challenge is to avoid stereotypes and find the universal commonalities that make us all (as our adviser Patricia Jabbeh Wesley says so beautifully), “one people.”

Please encourage the young writers you know to join their peers and accept this challenge. Let’s hear what this new generation of young writers has to say.

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceAnd secondly, DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, is graduating to a new, more accessible, medium. After six extraordinary print journals, DoveTales is going online. While we traditionalists may miss curling up with the printed book, there’s no denying the advantages of an online journal in reaching a greater audience. Our goal has always been to lift up work by our advisers, new, and emerging writers from across the globe who have something important to add to the collective conversation on resistance, creativity, human rights, cherishing each other and the planet we live on.

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Writing for Peace AdviserWe are honored that our Adviser Patricia Jabbeh Wesley has agreed to serve as Guest Editor of our first online edition of DoveTales, launching on August 1st, 2019. Her theme for the  edition is “One World, One People.” The reading period for this journal will close on June 1st, 2019.

So, dear writers and readers, let’s take a deep breath, reach out to each other through the written word, and connect with our inner green earth. There is much work to do, but we’re not alone.

Much love, Carmel

~~~

Carmel-Laughing-1Carmel Mawle is the Founder and President of the Board of Directors for Writing for Peace. She writes from the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and Max, a ten-pound border terrier mix who firmly believes he’s a mountain dog.

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

2018 Young Writers Contest Winners

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2018 Young Writers Contest Winners

Judges: Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, poetry; Adriana Páramo, nonfiction; and Djelloul Marbrook, fiction

Participating in the Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest takes a commitment to research, an open mind, and refining the craft of writing. The work that came in from young writers across the globe exemplified this commitment. It has been an honor and privilege to read them. In the words of Writing for Peace Adviser and Judge Djelloul Marbrook: “First, it has been a privilege and a pleasure to read these stories, not a chore. All of them are well written, poignant and eye-opening…I urge each of these writers to continue blessing us with their work.”

We would like to thank our judges for taking the time to read and consider our young writers’ entries. We would also 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. Completing this challenge is no small achievement, and we salute your commitment to expanding your knowledge base and developing your craft. We would also like to thank the teachers and mentors who encouraged their students to take our challenge, and then inspired and guided them to prepare their best work.

In Poetry~

First Place: Anna Yang from Saratoga, California, for “I Remember.”

Second Place: Booyeon Choi from Concord Massachusets, for “Fragments.”

Third Place: Lisa Zou from Chandler, Arizona for “Bodhisattva.”

In Fiction~

First Place: Sarah Ryu from Exeter, New Hampshire, for “The Hummingbird (Huitzilli).”

Second Place:  Chang Hyeon Park from Seoul, South Korea, for “Just A Little bit of Patience.”

Third Place:  David Gorodetsky from Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, for “Bleached Flour in Unbleached Hands.”

In Nonfiction~

First Place: Carolyn Qu from Smithtown, New York, for “The South Korean Suicide Epidemic.”

Second Place: Sally Liu from Holzheim, Bayern, Germany, for “Where Do You Come from?”

Third Place: Yu-Chen Lim from Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada for “The Merchant.”

Finalists~

Poetry: Michael Pieruccini & Jasmine Dhaliwal

Fiction: Minsung Kim & Alex Kim

Nonfiction: Lily See

Congratulations to one and all!

Copyright © 2018 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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

President’s Corner:

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

by Andrea W. Doray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I couldn’t agree more.

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

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2017 Young Writers Contest Results

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

Poetry~

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

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

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

Fiction~

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

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

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

Nonfiction~

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

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

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

Finalists~

Poetry: Laura Hinkle & Soo Young Yun

Fiction: Andrew Kim & Ye Joon Han

Nonfiction: Celine Lee & Danielle Zarcone

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

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

2017 DoveTales, “Refugees and the Displaced” Now Available

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

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

2017 Young Writers Contest Now Open!

2017 Panel of Judges

2017 Judges

Our 6th annual Young Writers Contest is now officially open! We’re excited to introduce our 2017 Panel of Judges: Chip Livingston, Poetry; Nick Arvin, Fiction, and Brad Wetzler, Nonfiction. We’re grateful to these accomplished writers for extending their expertise on behalf of our young writers. Learn more about their work here.

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 March 1st, 2017. There is no fee for participation. Read the full guidelines here.

For more information, or to learn how your school can receive a free copy of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, contact us at editor@writingforpeace.org.

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

The Night of Shattered Myth, by Swatilekha Roy

Swatilekha Roy is a 2016 Young Writers Contest Notable Finalist who writes from Durgapur, West Bengal, India. Swatilekha’s story caught the attention of our judges with its courage and hope. As one of our judges commented, “Swatilekha reaches for empathy in the darkest places of humanity and imagines not only what could cause a man’s extreme loss of compassion, but also where he might possibly find it again.”

In her words:

For me, the most deadly weapon yet discovered by mankind is a pen. ‘A pen is mightier than the sword.’ In today’s world, we have everything except peace and as they say, everything comes with a price. The biggest price yet has to be paid by those who fight for peace, physically and verbally. Writing has the power to bring about revolution. It is that gentle tremor that can shake the world. It is writing and writing alone that can change the face of the world for the better and make it a more peaceful place to dwell in. I would like to congratulate Writing for Peace on their outstanding feat of spreading the aura of peace through mere words.
~Swatilekha Roy

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The Night of Shattered Myth

By Swatilekha Roy

 

9th November, 1938

Just as our truck neared the corner of the Heidereuter Alley, the moon retired behind the clouds. Shards of glass littered the pavement. The night was filled with desperate shrieks, breaking glass, gunshots, and pleas for mercy.

Our orders: to ship these savage fools with yellow stars to extermination camps.

Our duty: to follow without question.

Our job: to kill.

The coal-black swastika on the rear of the truck showed a ghastly grin. Peace is a fool’s concept. War is the imperial truth. The synagogues heaved desperately, and thousands of Jews prayed for escape.

The orders were precise, “Execute as many children as you wish. They eat, yet can’t work.” Men and women would be sent to separate extermination-camps to be starved or tortured until death arrived as a welcome release.

As I was loading the emaciated Jewish children into the truck, I felt something tug at my shirt sleeve. Disgusted, I turned to find a bony child with hollow eyes. My duty was to kill, but something about him was familiar. And then it dawned on me. “Abbott?”

The child nodded. “I am Issao, Abbott’s son. They killed my father.” Tears welled in his eyes.

I suddenly remembered the pool we had loved as children, Abbott and I playing our reeds at the lake’s edge. Our different religions never came between us until Herr Hitler began his crazy rampage. When I was taught about the Jewish scourge, I hadn’t wanted to think about my friend. And now, looking into his son’s eyes, I was no longer a soldier. I was just a human being, an indebted friend.

I knew I was making a terrible mistake. I could almost hear the Führèr screaming, “Treason! Death!” But, the one speck of humanity that still blotted my soul rebelled. Acting on instinct, I checked to make sure the children were seated safely in back and bolted the latch. I turned the key and the truck’s engine rumbled to life. The swastika glared at me. Treachery? Death! As I sped off with the truckload of gaunt children, the moon abandoned its hideout and lit my way. Children were crying from hunger and fear and I was in disbelief. How could anyone justify the murder of innocent children?

Near the heavily guarded Berlin border, my heart began racing faster. There was no way I could pass through without getting shot. I prayed for a miracle.

As I neared the gates, the guard stopped me. “Your pass?”

“I, well…the orders were last moment. I’m shipping this scum out of Berlin. Here’s my badge.” He eyed me suspiciously. I flipped him a couple of Reichsmarks. “For bier!”

The guard saluted and, with a cry of “Heil Hitler,” opened the gates.

Driving away from Berlin, I racked my brain for connections I could use for the children’s safety, but most of the people or places I knew were far too risky. And then I remembered Paul, my childhood teacher and the kindest man I had ever known. He was my only hope. I made my way toward the familiar village from my youth.

As I reached the outskirts of town, I was comforted by the familiar sights. I drove through the village, past the solitary willow tree and my old church, and turned onto a dirt road marked by a rusty signboard advertising cheeses and fresh milk. I pulled to a stop in front of the farmhouse, got out, and knocked on the door, but when I asked for Paul, the woman shook her head.

“Please, Paul was my friend and teacher when I was a boy.”

She hesitated, wiping her sturdy hands on her apron. “Follow me,” she said, and stepped outside to lead me around the house toward the barn where a man with gray hair and rimmed glasses sat on a bench, reading. He looked up at my uniform in alarm.

“Paul,” I whispered. “Is that really you?”

“Have we met?”

“It’s Alfred. I’ve come for a refresher on formulas,” I said.

Paul flashed me a cautious smile and said, “Come sit, my friend. I had one particular formula that has stayed with me all these years.”

I sat beside him, laughing in relief as he gave my head the same sturdy knuckling I remembered from my childhood. He introduced me to his wife and began filling me in on the goings on at the farm, the cows, and children. It was if we had never been apart. But could I trust him with the children’s lives? With my life? Was it fair to ask him to risk his own life? His family and farm?

Before I could ask these questions, his wife was coming back around the house with two of the children. “There’s more, Paul.” She held their little hands tenderly, but her face reflected the horror of our situation.

Paul looked surprised as I broke into tears. “I, we, need your help. I’m sorry to ask, but they’re just children. Innocent children.”

Paul’s kindness and moral integrity was unchanged. He immediately agreed to help the children with this risky endeavor. Two of his farmhands emerged from the barn to help unload the children and get them into the house.  Some were barely alive. As the children were carried inside, I again felt a tug. “Did you know my father?” asked the boy.

I lifted the bony, weightless thing into my arms and kissed his dirty forehead. “Don’t worry. They’ll take good care of you.” I couldn’t answer his question, admit what a selfish, bloodthirsty cut-throat his father had once befriended.

“It’s time you leave,” Paul said. “Your truck will attract attention.”

I nodded, as Paul’s wife took Issao’s hand.

“May God bless you! We’ll take care of them,” my friend promised.

As I hoisted myself into the truck, the sky was illuminated with a brilliant orange hue. Even if I died today, I had no regrets. For once, I had been my own Führèr.

 

Meet Swatilekha Roy, 2016 Notable Finalist

Swatelikha Roy, finalistSwatilekha Roy is a seventeen years old amateur writer. The day to day fancies of nature leave her flabbergasted. Swatilekha’s favourite pastimes include sitting alone and listening to hardcore music, painting, reading novels and, of course, writing and editing. She loves critical study in literature. She is a diehard fan of fantasy and science fiction. Moreover, traveling intrigues her. Swatilekha writes to ventilate her feelings and to give in to the indomitable spirit of her fountain-pen. Writing gives her great joy. It’s her dream to become a writer and train amateurs like herself. This is the second time Swatilekha has participated in the Writing for Peace contest and the fact that she is a finalist delighted her. Earlier, she had also been selected as one of the best entrants in national level Campfire Young Writer of the Year Contest. Swatilekha would like to use this platform to extend her heartfelt gratitude towards everyone who stood by her: parents, family (especially, her uncle who is unfortunately no more) and friends.

 

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2017 Young Writers Contest

2013 Writing for Peace Young Writers ContestOur annual young writers contest will begin as scheduled on on September 1st, 2016. Watch for details and announcements on this blog soon.

The Peace Correspondent: Call for Submissions

Information is beginning to go up on the website about our new online periodical, The Peace Correspondent, a tri-annual solution-based publication. The first issue will be published on October 31st. Submission deadlines are September 15th. Guidelines are posted here.

DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts: Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceGuidelines are posted for the 2017 Edition. DoveTales is an extension of our mission to promote writing that explores the many aspects of peace.  Our purpose is to expose young writers to a diverse collection of thoughtful works by established and emerging writers, as well as our advisers. The journal will also feature works by the winners of our annual Young Writer Competition. The journal will be released on May 1st, 2017. There is no fee for submission, but please read our guidelines carefully.

Theme: The theme of our 2017 issue of DoveTales is Refugees and the Displaced. As in our earlier issues, we encourage contributors to take a broad view of the definitions within the context of peace.

  • The reading period begins July 1st, 2016 and ends January 15th, 2017, and the journal will be released on May 1st, 2016.

Support Writing for Peace

You can help make the Writing for Peace Mission a reality by supporting our youth outreach, international journal, and peace journalism in the following ways.

  • Help spread the word about Writing for Peace. One way to do that is to frequent our Facebook page, share and like our posts.
  • Purchase copies of DoveTales for yourself, friends, and loved ones.
  • Add Writing for Peace to the list of organizations you support in your annual giving. Writing for Peace is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID Number, 45-2968027. Donate now.

Thank you for your on-going support!

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Important Writing for Peace News:

Writing for Peace, Lennon Imagine PeaceCall for Participants:
2016 Writing for Peace Inaugural Online Youth Summit

Join young artists and writers, ages 18-30, your peers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, in conversation about the matters you care about in this online Youth Summit.

Form of Submission: Online

Summit Dates: April 29th, 30th and May 1st

Submission Deadline: April 15th

Topic:
“What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”

Fees: There is no fee for participation in this summit, with thanks to a generous grant from Longwood University in Virginia, United States of America.

Participation:  In order to provide a safe environment for participants to express themselves, this event is closed to the public. Participants are invited guests, ages 18-30, and will be given the password for admittance to the Summit following the acceptance of their submissions.

Description: In this online summit, 100 invited participants from schools and colleges in the US, Mexico (through Colectiva Poéticas), and Canada will have the opportunity to submit and present their creative work on the following theme: “What I Would Say If I Knew They Were Listening, Conversations on Peace”.

Submissions will be accepted in the following areas: Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, and Dance, and will be accepted via Submittable link above in the following specific formats:

  • Photos: Please submit high‐resolution images as JPGs or PNGs. Maximum file size is 5MB.
  • Creative Writing: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Genre X, in written (PDF, DOC, or DOCX) or video format, as a reading (see below).
  • Videos: to submit videos, participants should upload videos to YouTube as a private video and send the unlisted link to SubmissionsForWFP@gmail.com . That link will then be embedded on the WFP site. Please use your first name last name and the title of your film in the subject.
  • Submit Here

Participants work will appear on the closed summit website for the conference weekend, and then will remain only if the participant desires to include it in the post‐summit open website. Participants in the conference will have the opportunity to hear live‐stream TED‐style keynote speakers—young people from their generation from around the world—talk about what it’s really like growing up globally, living in the midst of war, and becoming 21st century young activists. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in threaded and real time online discussions with their global peers on topics including the impact young artists can have on Women’s Issues, LGBTQ Issues, Sustainability and The Environment, Hunger, Education, Using the Arts for Social
Change, and Using Social Media for Real Change.

Keynote Speakers include:

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a Navajo poet and peace activist from Taos, New Mexico, who has found her home in the service of humanity. After studying Human Ecology at Stanford University, Lyla founded Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration and honoring of children and young adults worldwide.

Natan Blanc, Writing for Peace Young AdviserNathan Blanc is an Israeli who refused to serve in the IDF (Israeli army) “because of its actions against the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.” Nathan held fast to his convictions, despite being sentenced 10 times, to a total of 178 days in jail. Nathan’s struggle was first of all a struggle for the freedom of conscience, but it was also a struggle for peace between the Jews and the Arabs in Israel.

Amal KassirAmal Kassir is a 20 year old Syrian‐American spoken word artist. Born and raised most her life in Denver, CO, she came from a dinner table of tabouleh and meat loaf, Arab father and American mother, best meals of both worlds. She runs a project called More than Metaphors that focuses on the education initiative for displaced Syrian children, but uses the grass roots to bring communities together for all conversations.
Malaka Mohammed, Writing for Peace AdviserMalaka Shwaikh is a Palestinian activist and freelance writer living in Sheffield. She is a graduate with a Masters in Global Politics and Law from the University of Sheffield.

Writing for Peace is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating empathy through education and creative writing in order to develop a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world. Our goal is to inspire and guide young writers to refine their craft and to consider the many ways their writing focus
can bring us closer to nonviolent conflict resolution, a society that values human rights, as well as environmental and economic sustainability.

 

Writing for Peace AdvisorsYoung Writers Contest

Our Young Writers Contest deadline is just around the corner. Be sure your submissions are in by the end of April 15th. We experienced some difficulties with the form earlier, so if you submitted and didn’t receive confirmation of your entry, please check with us, or re-submit at Young Writers Contest.

 

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace

2016 DoveTales

“Family and Cultural Identity” Edition

Our fourth edition of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts will be released on May 1st! Links will go up soon, and if you are in the Fort Collins area we hope you will join us for our Book Release Celebration Reading! Check out the details and RSVP at Book Launch Celebration.

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

How Humanity Fell in Love with Itself Once Again, By Lyla June Johnston

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The Story of How Humanity Fell in Love with Itself Once Again

By Lyla June Johnston

I spend a lot of time honoring and calling upon my Native American ancestors. I am keenly aware that my father’s people hold a venerable medicine as well. He has ancestry from the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe.

I have been called a half breed. I have been called a mutt. Impure. I have been told my mixed blood is my bane. That I’m cursed to have an Indian for a mother and a cowboy for a father.

But one day, as I sat in the ceremonial house of my mother’s people, a wondrous revelation landed delicately inside of my soul. It sang within me a song I can still hear today. This song was woven from the voices of my European grandmothers and grandfathers. Their songs were made of love.

They sang to me of their life before the witch trials and before the crusades. They spoke to me of a time before serfdoms and before Roman tithes. They spoke to me of a time before the plague; before the Medici; before the guillotine; a time before their people were extinguished or enslaved by dark forces. They spoke to me of a time before the English language existed. A time most of us have forgotten.

These grandmothers and grandfathers set the ancient medicine of Welsh blue stone upon my aching heart. Their chants danced like the flickering light of Tuscan cave-fires. Their joyous laughter echoed on and on like Baltic waves against Scandinavian shores. They blew worlds through my mind like windswept snow over Alpine mountain crests. They showed to me the vast and beautiful world of Indigenous Europe. This precious world can scarcely be found in any literature, but lives quietly within us like a dream we can’t quite remember.

As all this was happening, I peered into the flames of our Diné hoghan fireplace. These Ancient Europe voices whispered to my heart to help me understand. “See, our songs are not so different from your Diné songs,” they seemed to say with a smile.

In this moment, the moment I first acknowledged and connected with my beautiful European ancestors, I could do nothing but cry. It was one of those messy, snotty, shuddering cries, where my face flowed over with tears of joy and sorrow. It was the cry of a woman who met her grandmother for the first time. I always wondered where she was. What she looked like. What her voice sounded like. Who she was. And now, for the first time, I could feel her delicate hands run through my hair as she told me she loved me. I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed.

Intermixed in there were also tears of regret. My whole life I was taught to hide my European “side.” All I knew was that my father came from Dallas and that was all I needed to know. These pale-skinned mothers and fathers were to be forgotten, I was taught. They carried violence in their blood and avarice in their smile, I was taught. They were rubbish, I was taught. There was no need to ask questions about them or think about them, I was taught. Whenever I wrote down my race on official forms, I would only write “Native American,” as I was taught.

But then, as thousands of European ancestors swirled around me and reassured my fearful heart, I wished I had honored them sooner. I wished I hadn’t disowned them. I wished I knew how beautiful they were. I wished I could have seen through the thin wall of time that dominates our understanding of Europe. I wish I could have realized the days when Indigenous Europeans were deeply connected to the earth and to kinship. In my mind I told them I was so, so sorry for forsaking them. But, of course, they did not care. They only held me tighter and assured me they would be with me to the end.

The sweetness of this precious experience changed me forever. I have come to believe that if we do not wholly love our ancestors, then we do not truly know who they are. For instance, I get very offended when people call Native Americans “good-for-nothing drunks.” Because by saying this, people don’t take into account the centuries of attempted genocide, rape and drugging of Native American people. They don’t see the beauty of who we were before the onslaught. And now, I am offended when people call European descendants “privileged good-for-nothing pilgrims.” Because by saying this, people do not take into account the thousands of years that European peoples were raped, tortured and enslaved. They do not understand the beauty of who we were before the onslaught. They do not understand that even though we have free will and the ability to choose how we live our life, it is very hard to overcome inter-generational trauma. What happens in our formative years and what our parents teach us at that time can be very hard to reverse.

They estimate that 8-9 million European women were burned alive, drowned alive, dismembered alive, beaten, raped and otherwise tortured as so-called, “witches.” It is obvious to me now that these women were not witches, but were the Medicine People of Old Europe. They were the women who understood the herbal medicines, the ones who prayed with stones, the ones who passed on sacred chants, the ones who whispered to me that night in the hoghan. This all-out warfare on Indigenous European women, not only harmed them, but had a profound effect on the men who loved them. Their husbands, sons and brothers. Nothing makes a man go mad like watching the women of his family get burned alive. If the men respond to this hatred with hatred, the hatred is passed on. And who can blame them? While peace and love is the correct response to hatred, it is not the easy response by any means.

The Indigenous Cultures of Europe also sustained forced assimilation by the Roman Empire and other hegemonic forces. In fact, it was only a few decades ago that any Welsh child caught speaking Welsh in school would have a block of wood tied to their neck. The words “WN” were there-inscribed, standing for “welsh not.” This kind of public humiliation will sound very familiar to any Native Americans reading this who attended U.S. Government boarding schools.

Moreover, our indigenous European ancestors faced horrific epidemics of biblical proportions. In the 1300s, two-thirds of Indigenous Europeans were wiped from the face of the earth. The Black Death, or Bubonic Plague, ravaged entire villages with massive lymph sores that filled with puss until they burst open. Sound familiar?

The parallels between the genocide of Indigenous Europeans and Native Americans are astounding. It boggles my mind that more people don’t see how we are the same people, who have undergone the same spiritual assault. The only difference between the Red Story and the White Story is we are in different stages of the process of spiritual warfare. Native Americans are only recently becoming something they are not. They are only recently starting to succumb to the temptations of drugs, alcohol, gambling, self-destruction and the destruction of others. Just as some Native American people have been contorted and twisted by so many centuries of abuse, so too were those survivors of the European genocide. Both are completely forgivable in my eyes.

Now I see I have a double-duty. I must not only honor and revitalize my Diné culture, but also that of my European ancestors. This ancient Indigenous European culture is just as beautiful as Native American culture and was just as tragically murdered and hidden from history books.

And so, some years later, armed with this new understanding, I traveled to Europe. I scaled a beautiful mountain in Switzerland to see if I might hear hints of ceremonial songs in the wind. I stepped upon the earth guided by those grandmother and grandfather whispers. I plucked a strand of hair from my scalp and placed the offering upon the earth, still wet from morning dew. I ambled through the forests enchanted by the new sights and smells. And I did see glimmers of visions of the villages of yesteryear. And they were full of Earth People living out harmonious community. And, they had beautiful music.

As the sun went down, I fell back on the grass and looked up to the sky. At the time, I was going through a very painful separation from a person I loved. To my surprise, it felt as if the earth was pulling all the sorrow I was carrying down into her core where she could transform it into beauty. The sky was speaking to me about how I didn’t need to worry, that I would be happy again one day. The earth and the sky healed me that day from the great weight I had carried for months. It was a special reunion with the mountains of my foremothers.

My mountain experiment yielded astounding results: the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe is still alive and breathing and waiting for her children to come home! She is waiting for us to ask her for songs so that we may sing to her once again. She is waiting for us to scratch passed the surface of time, into the B.C. period when our languages were thriving and our dancing feet kissed the face of the earth. She is waiting. She is waiting for us to remember who we are. If you hold this descent, or any forgotten descent for that matter, I am asking you to join me in this prayer to remember who we are. I have a feeling this prayer will heal the whole world.

In 2009, archaeologists came across a female effigy believed to be the Goddess of the Earth buried inside of German soil. The radiocarbon dating tests came back. They indicate that this clay deity was molded by European hands 40,000 years ago. 40,000 years ago. This is the time she beckons us to. This is the world she hopes we will remember: where man and woman alike, held the soil in their hands and saw the value and sanctity of women and of the Mother Earth. This is the world that still flows through our veins, however deafened we have become to it. With prayer we can learn to hear it once again.

I compare this earth-based, Indigenous European culture to the witch-burning psychosis of the first and second millennia. I cannot help but ask myself, when and how did this egalitarian, earth-loving, woman-honoring culture, become the colonial, genocidal conquerors that washed upon American shores? Could it be that our beloved Indigenous European ancestors were raped and tortured for so many thousands of years that they forgot who they were? Could it be they lived in a pressure cooker of oppression for so long that conquer-or-be-conquered is all they knew? Yes, I believe so.

Our task is to shake the amnesia. To not be ashamed of our European-ness, but to reclaim our beautiful grandmothers, to reclaim our venerable grandfathers, to reclaim our lost languages, our lost ceremonies, our lost homelands and become one with the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe once again. The European diaspora is spread all throughout the world, searching the planet for something that lives inside. I promise you will hear it when you climb the mountains of Switzerland! Of Scotland! Of Tuscany! Of Hungary! Of Portugal! Of the Great Sacred Motherland of Europe! Just because bad things happened upon her bosom does not mean she is bad.

Our task is to honor our ancestors, even those who caved beneath the weight of systematic destruction and became conquerors themselves. Our task is to remember that we are those beautiful Earth People. The ones whose love and prayers were so strong that they could carry 25-ton blue stone monoliths for miles and miles and build the sacred place of prayer known as Stonehenge. That is who we are. When we remember this, the healing of our lineages comes full circle. When we remember this, we will no longer need to borrow spiritual practices from other cultures (although that can be very helpful when there is nothing else to hold onto.) When we remember this, we will remember that the fates of all beings are intertwined with our own. When I remembered this, I found whole-ness in my self—no longer a half-breed, but a daughter of Two Great Lineages, Two Great Rivers that ran together to make one precious child.

This is the story of how I became whole. Some days, it feels like both fire and water live within me. They dance and swirl around one another. In the morning when I wake up, each bows to the other, honoring themselves as equals, as beautiful. When I go to sleep at night they wish each other good dreams. They teach me how it could have been when Columbus first stepped upon Taino shores: a meeting of two long lost brothers, embracing each other and celebrating their unique cultures. They teach me how things can be for our children in the future.

Because that’s what matters most, doesn’t it?

Not how the story goes… but how it ends.

We each hold a pen. Now, let us co-author a story of how humanity fell in love with itself and its Mother Earth once again. Shall we?

 

About Writing for Peace Adviser Lyla June Johnston

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a poet, musician, anthropologist and human being, from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for peace unfolds both outside of herself through community organizing and within herself through continual prayers to forgive and love a wounded world. Learn more about Lyla and her work here.

(c) Copyright 2016. Lyla Johnston. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here with permission by the author.

Photo courtesy of Wikicommons: Sami Indigenous Peoples of Norway, circa 1900. They are standing beside their “lavvu” which look strikingly similar to the tipis of Plains Indigenous Peoples of North America.

 

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Writing for Peace News

2016 Young Writers Contest Begins!

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. We’ve extended the submission deadline to April 15, 2016 at midnight (Mountain Time). There is no fee for participation. Check out our guidelines here.

Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace Adviser“How do we fight for what we want and need; to protect the planet; and to ensure justice for all, when we are confronting an oligarchy?”

Newsletter: Defeating The Oligarchs

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

2016 Young Writers Contest Begins!

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Writing for Peace News

 The 2016 Young Writers Contest Is Open!

2016JudgesSince we first started our contest in the fall of 2011, we’ve received stories, essays, and poetry from students in over 24 countries. And now our 5th annual Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is up and running.  Due to the late start, the deadline has been extended to April 15th, 2016. You’ll find our guidelines online here.

We’re very excited to announce our prestigious panel of judges:

Meg Pokrass, Fiction

Meg Pokrass is the author of “Damn Sure Right” (Press 53, 2011) “Bird Envy” and a novella-in-flash “Here, Where We Live” one of five novellas-in-flash in the award-winning anthology “My Very End of the Universe – Five Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the Form” (Rose Metal Press, 2014). Read more about Meg Pokrass and her work here.

E. Ethelbert Miller, Poetry

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a progressive think tank located in Washington, D.C. For ten years he has been the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. In 1996, he delivered the commencement address at Emory and Henry College and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. Mr. Miller has been a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel in 2004 and 2012. In February 2006 he was the keynote speaker at the 50th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Israel, at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. Read More about E. Ethelbert Miller and his work here.

Rebekah Presson Mosby, Nonfiction. 

Rebekah Presson Mosby is a Grammy nominee and Audie award winner known for her work in poetry audio, for arts reporting on National Public Radio and for interviews with writers and artists. Read more about Rebekah Presson Mosby and her work here.

Special Note:

Writers for Peace, with this late start we’ll need your help more than ever to get the word out. As always we’re happy to mail you free bookmarks to hand out in classrooms and workshops. Contact us at editor@writingforpeace.org. Thank you so much for your help and support. It really does make a difference. Happy writing!

 

Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

2015 Young Writers Contest Now Open!

Meet our 2015 Young Writers Contest Judges

Antonya Nelson, Fiction

Antonya Nelson with dogAntonya Nelson is the author of four novels, including Bound (Bloomsbury, 2010) and seven short story collections, including Funny Once (Bloomsbury, 2014). Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, Redbook and many other magazines, as well as in anthologies such as Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories. She is the recipient of a USA Artists Award in 2009, the 2003 Rea Award for Short Fiction, as well as NEA and Guggenheim Fellowships, and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program, as well as in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. She lives in Telluride, Colorado, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Houston, Texas.

Steve Almond, Nonfiction

Steve Almond, 2015 Nonfiction JudgeSteve Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction, three of which he published himself. His memoir Candyfreak was a New York Times Bestseller. His short stories have appeared in the Best American and Pushcart anthologies. His most recent collection, God Bless America, won the Paterson Prize for Fiction and was short-listed for The Story Prize. His journalism has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and elsewhere.

 

 

Stephen Kuusisto, Poetry

Stephen Kuusisto, 2015 Poetry JudgeStephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”) and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light, and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, and The Ohio State University. He currently directs the Renée Crown Honors Program at Syracuse University where he holds a professorship in the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker on disability and diversity issues around the US and abroad.

2015 Young Writers Contest

  • Deadline for submission is March 1st, 2015 at midnight (Mountain Time).
  • There is no fee for participation.
  • Writers, ages 13-19, may submit in one of three categories – poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Ages are counted from the entry date, and entrants are required to show proof of age, but those images are never shared publicly.
  • Winners and published finalists will be asked to submit an author’s photograph and biography. We encourage you to explore the winners’ pages on the site to see the type of information and pictures the authors share.
  • The contest is open internationally, but all submissions must be written in English and submitted with the completed form. Both American and British English are accepted.
  • All participants, and their teacher/mentor will receive a certificate of participation. Certificates will be mailed by April 1st.

In all divisions your work should attempt to:

  • Show day to day life.
  • Show family relations and friendships.
  • Show outside forces at work (ie. weather, government/politics, social pressures, etc.)
  • Avoid stereotypes and generalizations.  Dig beneath the surface to explore common humanity and universal themes.

View the complete guidelines at https://writingforpeace.org/2015-contest-guidelines/

 

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.