Mourning the Loss of Voices for Peace
Szymborska and Fuentes are two of the most influential authors of our time, and each died recently. If you don’t know too much about them, that’s okay. I myself was only introduced to the work of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska (pronounced vees-WAH-vah shim-BOR-ska) during a 2010 poetry class at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. Since then, she has become my favorite poetic voice.
Szymborska, who won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, was a gentle and reclusive person who lived modestly in the old university city of Krakow, Poland. In interviews, she insisted her poetry was personal rather political; however I have found that her work brings the personal to the political, as well as the political to the personal. She died in Krakow in February at age 88.
Carlos Fuentes died earlier this year in Mexico City at age 83. He wrote his first novel at age 29 and published an essay in France on the day he died.
You may know Fuentes for his internationally acclaimed novel, The Death of Artemio Cruz, or for The Buried Mirror, which he also hosted as a five-part series on NPR. Fuentes lived in the United States from time to time and taught at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Brown universities…in flawless American English.
Fuentes was honored with the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor, as well as France’s highest civilian award given to a foreigner. For me, Fuentes belongs to a fabled tradition of literary author as social commentator.
My own writing…
This loss of these important literary voices leads me to think of the course of my own writing. I volunteer for Writing for Peace, dedicated to cultivating empathy and developing a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world.
And I have so much to say! Right now, I’m working on my second collection of poetry with themes of war and peace, injustice and compassion throughout.
This also leads to think of what you might have to say. I’ve talked about renowned authors here, but you don’t have to be famous to be heard speaking out for peace.
I hear you out there all the time, at city council or county commissioner or school board meetings. I see you packing boxes at the Food Bank. I see you holding signs and hear you knocking on doors for candidates whom you believe will speak with your voice.
I see you tweeting and posting and blogging. I see you standing up for what matters to you, and saying what you believe needs to be said.
What more could we have learned?
Still, I mourn losing voices like Szymborska’s and Fuentes’…voices from different languages, different worlds. What more could they have shared with us, taught us?
Szymborska created a poetic place for readers to go where we had not been able to go before. She takes on the tough subjects and makes them accessible to us.
Fuentes said just six years ago that he had many more books in him. As a testament to his convictions, his last post on Twitter (out of only 21), has been translated from Spanish to English as: “There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind and we must all help search for it.”
Excuse me now, would you?
I need to go write something.
Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. Learn more about Andrea here.
Call for Submissions: The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. Find Submission guidelines here.
2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.
Volunteer as a Writing for Peace Mentor: Learn more and apply here.
A Word from Alexandra Kinias
Don’t miss our next post, when we’ll hear from Writing for Peace Adviser, Alexandra Kinias. Alexandra is a mechanical engineer, screenwriter, photographer, and novelist. Born and raised in Egypt, her blog Silenced Voices, Wasted lives is dedicated to women’s issues in general and women in the Middle East in particular. Her novel, “Black Tulips”, reveals the hardships that women are exposed to living in male dominant societies.
Read more about Alexandra here.
Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.