Category Archives: Young Writers Contest Guidelines

RESISTANCE Goes Up Tomorrow, and Read Three Contest Finalists Now

RESISTANCE

Our 2020 Summer DoveTales launches at 12 noon Mountain Time. Guest Edited by Brad Wetzler, the RESISTANCE Issue is an exercise in First Amendment Rights. Check in tomorrow to immerse yourself in powerful work from writers, artists and photographers from all over the world, the Young Writers Contest Winners, and our Featured Writer, Martín Espada. This journal is a fearless roar for Democracy and Human Rights.

Young Writers Contest Finalists

This month we have been publishing the finalists from our Young Writers Contest. We received hundreds of wonderful entries, and these writers rose to the top. Congratulations to all our finalists!

Real Beloved, by Karen Umeora

Papa had always placed his hopes in Octavia. She had a strange type of elegance and moved as if gliding on ice.

Read Karen Umeora’s story in full here.

Thunder Over Warsaw, by Adler Schultz

“David,” my mother cries with tears of glittering white,
“Take your sister and run.”

Read Adler Schultz’s poem in full here.

The Flower of Egypt, by Seohyun Yoon

“Flower,” said a young, rather skinny, large-eyed boy in an Arabic accent. As I hopped on the tour carriage, he held out a red flower.

Read Seohyun Yoon’s essay in full here.


Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Finalist Sophia Fang’s Zongzi, Martín Espada Reading and Other W4P News

Read 2020 Young Writers Contest Finalists Pieces In Our July Blog

Congratulations to Sophia Fang, whose short story “Zongzi” came in as one of two 2020 Young Writers Contest Fiction Finalists. Sophia is in grade 10 at Westview High School in Sandiego, California. Read her short story, “Zongzi,” here.

Friday Live Readings

(Photo by Connie Kuusisto)

If you missed Adviser Stephen Kuusisto’s wonderful reading from his latest book, Have Dog, Will Travel, the recording is available now. Learn how his book, requested by Simon and Schuster, evolved into the lyrical memoir it became. Stephen’s reading touched on his process and activism, the books that influenced his writing and personal growth, and became something of a love poem to his first guide dog, Corky and his wife, Connie. Watch the reading in full here.

(Photo by David González)

Our next Friday Live Reading is on July 24th at 8pm ET with Martín Espada, our DoveTales Resistance Featured Writer. He will read from his new book, Floaters, and discuss his process and activism. Find the details here. You won’t want to miss this!

Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His forthcoming book of poems from Norton is called Floaters. His many honors include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His book of essays and poems, Zapata’s Disciple (1998), was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona, and reissued by Northwestern University Press. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

If You Don’t Know Me by Now…

By Adviser E. Ethelbert Miller, in AWP Magazine & Media

Adviser E. Ethelbert Miller

Too many metaphors are missing these days. In their absence, we desperately search for a way of explaining the sudden upheaval in our society. We uproot the past looking for historical clarity. Unfortunately, the future often wears a mask. We are no longer protesting like this is the ’60s. The motion of history has taken us somewhere else. “Where are we?” is as difficult to utter as “Once upon a time.” As writers, our own words and narratives (if we are not careful) can turn against us, and even become suffocating.

Read E. Ethelbert Miller’s entire essay here.

 


Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Resistance DoveTales, Friday Live Readings, and E. Ethelbert Miller Essay

“Resistance” Deadline Extended

Brad Wetzler, Guest Editor

On Monday, writers submitting their work to be considered for our “Resistance” edition of DoveTales  found that our Submittable account had been closed before the June 15th deadline. Apparently, we received so many submissions that we exceed a maximum that we weren’t aware of. The problem has been remedied, and the deadline has been extended to June 20th. We apologize for the inconvenience. Read our full guidelines here.

Friday Live Reading Series

Adviser Lyla June Johnston

Every other Friday, Writing for Peace hosts an hour long reading and discussion on Zoom. It’s casual and conversational, and we always learn something that inspires us in our own writing. Our next reading will be on June 26th with Lyla June Johnston. An adviser since 2013, Lyla June Johnston is an Indigenous musician, scholar, and community servant of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages. Her dynamic, multi-genre presentation style has engaged audiences across the globe towards personal, collective and ecological healing.

Check out our complete author lineup, watch videos of our previous readings, and support our fellow writers by purchasing their work. Go to our Friday Live Reading page here.

America Upside Down

Our country is in the midst of a paradigm shift

By Adviser E. Ethelbert Miller | June 15, 2020

Adviser E. Ethelbert Miller

Social historian Vincent Harding often felt it was best to describe black history as being much like a river, flowing toward freedom and the delta of democracy. The challenge we face today is how to navigate this river. Our inability to do this too often leads us to compare historical incidents and movements to one another. We see a protest or a riot and we immediately compare it to the 1960s. Why should one be surprised by police brutality in the black community? Hasn’t there always been one historical moment flowing into the next?

Read the entire article in The American Scholar here.

Young Writers Contest

The 2020 Young Writers Contest is closed. Announcements will be made in our blog on July 1st, 2020.

Copyright © 2020 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Friday Live with E. Ethelbert Miller, A W4P Reading Series

Announcing our new Friday Live Reading Series!

Beginning on May 1st, at 8pm ET, with E. Ethelbert Miller, Writing for Peace will host a reading of extraordinary poets and writers every other Friday evening in Zoom. It will be a chance to not only hear our guests read, but also ask your questions as a part of the Writing for Peace community.  This Friday, E. Ethelbert Miller will read from unpublished work as well as from his latest book, If God Invented Baseball.  You can purchase his book through Simon and Schuster here. We hope you’ll invite all your friends and join us this Friday!

About E. Ethelbert Miller

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs and several books of poetry including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his work. For 17 years Miller served as the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. His poetry has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Miller is a two-time Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel. He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Emory and Henry College and has taught at several universities.

Miller is host of the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV. In recent years, Miller has been inducted into the 2015 Washington DC Hall of Fame and awarded the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the 2016 DCMayor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. In 2018, he was inducted into Gamma Xi Phi and appointed as an ambassador for the Authors Guild. Miller’s most recent book If God Invented Baseball, published by City Point Press, was awarded the 2019 Literary Award for poetry by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Join the Writing for Peace Friday Live Reading with E. Ethelbert Miller

When: Friday, May 1st, 2020, from 8-9pm ET
Where: Meeting ID: 841 3395 3865, Password: 545964

Connect to E. Ethelbert Miller Reading Here


Young Writers Contest Deadline Extended

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Writing for Peace Board of Directors has decided to extend the deadline for our 2020 Young Writers Contest to June 1st.

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. Ages are counted from the entry date, and entrants are required to show proof of age (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 past winners’ pages on our website to see the types of information and pictures 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.

For more information, go to our Young Writers Contest Guidelines page.

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

2019 Young Writers Contest Winners Announcement

Believe in Art header

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.

###

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.

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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.
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