Tag Archives: Andrea Doray

We must always take sides, By Andrea Doray

Andrea_final--2 (2)You can’t write about character and the human condition and be apolitical … that’s not the kind of world we’ve ever lived in.” — Sam Hamill, in a 2006 Poetry Foundation interview.

The world lost a powerful voice last year when Sam Hamill died. Hamill served as an advisor to the international organization, Writing for Peace, founded Poets Against the War, and spoke for people who otherwise could not. We need more Sam Hamills. We must always take sides.

Some people have told me that sometimes this column is too political. Some others have asked me to take a stronger stance. Some people have called me unpleasant names and some have supported my perspectives.

We live in widely diverse society where, ostensibly, we are all free to disagree in this way. And so we celebrate the birth of our country, and the freedoms that are supposed to allow us to speak without fear of government reprisal, to worship without fear of governmental oppression, to benefit from a free and open press.

It’s worth noting not only this vision of our founders, but also the courage of those who have fought for their ideals. My parents were among these. Both enlisted in the Army to serve in World War II. Both left their homes to help protect people they didn’t know. Both risked their lives for a cause greater than themselves.

I write at this time each year to honor Eva Levine, born on July 6, 1916. Eva was rounded up and transported from Poland, her homeland, to Bergen-Belsen, for no other reason than that she was Jewish. She lost her health, her husband and the rest of her family in the brutality of the Nazi death camps.

According to United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. – where I received Eva’s information on ID card #2633 – after she was liberated by the British in 1945, Eva emigrated to the U.S. in 1950 and nothing more is known of her.

Yet I will continue to commemorate her, and the millions who suffered with her. I will also continue to stand up for victims who suffer today … because of their faith, their heritage, their gender, because of where they were born, how they were born, or who they love.

In these times of polarized, normalized and codified hatred, at home and abroad, I believe it’s more important than ever to recognize the men and women (Abigail Adams, anyone?) whose struggles birthed our nation. It’s more important than ever to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women who keep, and have kept, these ideals alive. It’s more important than ever to recognize that we each, each, have a role in the future that faces us—not just for ourselves, but for others who may be suffering. The lessons of the Holocaust have taught us this.

We have also learned that to be silent is to become complicit … Albert Einstein, Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel and countless others have warned that when we are neutral in situations of injustice, we have, in essence, chosen the side of the oppressor.

If this means, then, that we are not apolitical, so be it. Perhaps, as Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

Andrea Doray is a writer who believes in the words of Elie Wiesel: “We must always take sides … the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

Previously published by Arvada Press. Reprinted by permission of the author.

On Empathy, by Andrea W. Doray

 

Empathy unites the hopes and dreams of humanity

by Andrea W. Doray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s how I see it … from my little corner of the world.

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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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Writing for Peace News

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

What Can I Do?

by Jody Rein, Writing for Peace Board Member

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

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

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

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

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

Actions that Make a Difference

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

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

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

We can do this.

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Self-Compassion, A Bridge To Understanding, by Andrea W. Doray

 

President’s Corner:

Self-Compassion, A Bridge To Understanding

by Andrea W. Doray

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn December 2016, the Dalai Lama spoke during the Emory-Tibet Symposium of Scholars and Scientists at the Drepung Monastic University in India. According to Atlanta-based Emory University, “the ultimate goal of the symposium is to build a bridge between two complementary systems of knowledge.”

In an interview with CNN, the Dalai Lama was asked about what was happening in the United States at that time. His Holiness said that although he considers America the “leading nation of the free world,” he also acknowledged that the U.S. is a democracy where the “power is divided.”

Indeed, America is a country that mirrors societies around the world: divided – rather than shared – in which many people are angry, many other people are angry at the people getting angry, and civility seems to be a veneer stretched too thin on both sides to conceal the contempt and derision below.

His Holiness offered some advice for finding equilibrium in these times: self-compassion. As opposed to self-esteem or self-respect, self-compassion is defined by some scholars as open to and touched by our own troubles, worries, or fears, and yet not avoiding them or disconnecting from them. An important piece of self-compassion is to be nonjudgmental about what is causing us pain.

In our divided world, people are beyond judgmental with each other … vitriolic in name-calling, shaming, senses of entitlement. Some people are so certain of their own beliefs that anyone who stands for an opposing viewpoint becomes a target of scorn and hate. The divisions are sharp, wide, deep. No wonder so many of us feel a bit battered, bruised.

Each of us does face our own battles, every day. And this means that everyone else we meet or interact with is also fighting some sort of battle, that may or may not have anything to do with political divisions. Personally, I’m not sure which needs to come first, though – compassion for self or compassion for others, in which we are touched by someone else’s suffering, we are aware of their pain, and we are not judging them. Clearly, neither is easy.

Is it possible for us to “build a bridge between two complementary systems of knowledge?” Can we practice compassion, including self-compassion, for better understanding of the other sides of the divide?

For my part, starting this weekend – oh, mercy, starting right now! – I’m going to practice self-compassion. If it’s good for the Dalai Lama, it is definitely good for me.

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is 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.

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Bearing Witness, by Andrea W. Doray

Bearing Witness, On The Birthday of Eva Levine

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board Memberby Andrea W. Doray

Last week, July 6, was Eva Levine’s birthday…July 6, 1916, to be exact, and I am writing here to commemorate this day. She was the second daughter of five children born to Jewish parents in Lodz, Poland. Her father dealt in real estate, and the family owned the building in which they lived. Eva finished high school and studied history at a local university.

I know this because I was given Eva’s Identification Card when I recently visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Actually, I selected Eva’s card at random from a bin of such ID cards for females – women and children – who were victims of the ghettos, deportations, concentration camps, and, for so many, the mass murders in the killing fields and gas chambers of the Holocaust.

I too am a student of history, and I’ve read extensively about the World War II theatres in Europe where my father served, and those in the Pacific where my mother was stationed. And – as painful as it is – I want to know as much about the Holocaust as possible. Because such a thing must never happen again.

Eva was 2½ years old when my mother was born in Chicago, a first-generation American whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Romania around the turn of the century. Just 20-some years later, my Romanian-American mother would serve with the Allies to help liberate families such as Eva’s who had become trapped in their homelands.

In Poland, Ava married her boyfriend Herman in 1939; then the Germans invaded. One day the Gestapo banged on their door and slapped Eva’s father-in-law around. They demanded the family’s valuables, which had already been looted, and Eva herself confronted the officers.

In 1941, Eva and Herman were tossed into the ghetto of Piotrkow Trybunalski after they arrived there looking for food. Eva’s family was deported there as well, and she worked with her mother and sisters for three years in the ghetto. In 1944 all the women were deported to Ravensbreuk, a concentration camp in Germany.

Eva’s health deteriorated, and the by the time she was evacuated with the other prisoners to Bergen-Belsen ahead of the Allied advance, she had lost most of the tissue in her spine. Eva’s mother, Machla Spicehandler Braun, became so weakened by starvation and disease that she lay dying in Bergen-Belsen on the floor of her filthy barrack.

Two days before the British liberated the camp in April 1945, Machla died at Bergen-Belsen. Eva’s father, Yakob, had been deported to Buchenwald in 1944 and then to Bergen-Belsen, where he died without ever making contact his family. Eva was liberated by the British and she moved to the United States in 1950. The Holocaust Museum has no record of what happened to Herman Levine, and I know nothing more of Eva.

Eva’s story lives on with me, however, because I received her ID card #2633. This July 6 was the first of her birthdays that I will commemorate by bearing witness for both the dead and the living, and – as a member of the human race – working to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Because such a thing must never happen again.

This piece appears in Colorado Community Newspapers and is reprinted here with permission.

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in communication from the University of Northern Colorado. Andrea has authored several children’s books and is currently assembling her children’s poems for a collection that incorporates principles of lifelong literacy. A former Peace Corps trainee, Andrea is a national speaker who advocates for education, literacy, and opportunity for the unserved, the underserved, the marginalized, the at-risk, and the family-next-door populations. Andrea believes that wherever we are in the world, wherever we are in life, we have an obligation to offer our voices when others have none. Visit her page and read her other Writing for Peace blog posts here.

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  • Erica Chenoweth Joins Writing for Peace

Erica Chenoweth smallI am joining Writing for Peace because of the ability of written expression to deepen empathy for one another. Because empathy is crucial for resolving violent conflict, I believe the young artists of the world have unmatched potential to tap into sources of empathy, creativity, and understanding to create new solutions to today’s conflicts. ~Erica Chenoweth

Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO). An internationally recognized authority on political violence and its alternatives, Foreign Policy magazine ranked her among the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2013 for her efforts to promote the empirical study of civil resistance. Chenoweth received the 2014 Karl Deutsch Award, which the International Studies Association gives annually to the scholar under the age of 40 who has made the greatest impact on the field of international politics or peace research. Visit Erica’s page here to learn more about her work.

  • Release Date Set for 2014 DoveTales

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts “Contrast” edition is set to release on July 30th. With the change in printer, our primary concern was to maintain the quality our young writers and contributors have rightly come to expect. With that in mind, the book will be published by McNaughton & Gunn, Inc., a printer recommended by Writing for Peace Adviser Richard Krawiec.

Watch the website for contributor information and new art reflecting the book’s beautiful black and white photography by our Artist-in-Residence, Paula Dawn Lietz.

 

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

My Mother’s Funeral, A Review by Robert Kostuck

Adriana Paramo, Writing for Peace AdviserMY MOTHER’S FUNERAL

by Adriana Páramo

CavanKerry Press, 2013, 258 pp., $21.00, ISBN 1-933880-39-2

A Review, by Robert Kostuck

In My Mother’s Funeral, Adriana Páramo slips between her mother Carmen’s life before children, her own childhood memories, and the present—wake, funeral, cremation. Woven into these personal experiences is an omnipresent Columbia: the open spaces of Mariquita, the squalid poverty of Medellín and Bogotá, rival drug gangs, politics, Catholicism, the Communist Party revisited.

Objectivity is difficult to achieve in a book-length essay; Ms. Páramo, however, succeeds admirably—she gently and firmly pieces together the tapestry of the mother and daughter relationship; readers will find common themes presented in even-handed and sometimes startling prose. Her writing is educational without being didactic; emotional without being sentimental.

Politics in Colombia were harsh in the 1950s. Her rarely-seen father, ‘Mr. B’, a cachiporro (liberal), seduces the innocent Carmen, and after the wedding rushes her away from her home—a few hours ahead of the godos (conservatives). First night together is spent in a whorehouse; for the remainder of the marriage Mr. B comes and goes as he pleases, impregnating Carmen and then vanishing for months or years at a time. At one point her sister Dalila acquires a partially-decomposed adult male human skeleton—courtesy of a ‘snatcher’, recommended by the nuns—and together sister and mother boil and clean the bones. Assembled, Dalila receives her coveted A+ in anatomy and the unnamed skeleton literally hangs around the house, a possible replacement for the missing Mr. B.

The baby of the family, Adriana curls up with her mother in the kitchen or in bed, listening to the stories of the world filtered through a tabletop radio: sports, agony aunties, soap operas, tangos, boleros; Carmen singing along with the radio, Adriana, watching her mother “morph into a woman”.

“Tal vez mañana puedas comprender / Que siempre fui sincera / Tal vez por alguien llegues a saber / Que todavia te quiero. Maybe later you might understand / That I was always sincere / Perhaps someone will help you see / That I still love you.”

Childhood for Adriana, is a combination of head-long curiosity and goofy naiveté. Carmen, and to a lesser extent, her sisters, guide and guard the young Adriana. Memory is selective; what Adriana shows us is how this mother shapes her daughters: strict, efficient, economical—she maintains a poor but tidy home and life for her children. Lessons by word or example are rarely repeated; they become the very fibers of her daughter’s body and personality. Toward the end of the memoir, Adriana writes,

“Our financial situation started to improve when we moved to Medellín, and Dalila, Amanda, and Ligia got secretarial jobs that required them to wear nylons, high heels, and modest suits. Eventually they began going back to school at night, but they never stopped working, never stopped rescuing Mom and their two younger sisters from the constant panic of uncertainty. I owe everything I am to the women in my family—to my sisters and Mom. Nobody else.”

This is the heart of the memoir: what a daughter learns from her mother: how to be a girl, how to become a woman; and when that mother begins to fade from autumn into winter, how to become her mother. When Carmen, beset by Alzheimer’s, visits Adriana the wife and mother at her new home in Alaska, she relates a story about her pregnancy with Adriana so at odds with the life lessons she’d imparted over the years that her daughter feels an urge to “. . . jump into the lake and sink slowly into its frigid waters.” The fantastic and heartbreaking revelation adds another thin, sharp layer to this complex mother and daughter relationship.

Returning to Colombia in torn jeans and a gypsy blouse, Adriana arrives at the wake, faces somber and seemingly more mature sisters and a brother. Funerals are holidays for the dead, a time when far-flung family reunite and wonder aloud what went right and what went wrong. Her sisters and brother are emotional but methodical—Adriana feels like the only one with an incomparable loss—the woman who as a child promised her mother that she would always remain her little girl. A few days stretches into a painful eternity, and when the siblings return home to divide Carmen’s possessions, Adriana is nostalgic, then practical:

“I imagine landing in Miami, trying to make it through customs with a fern, a plastic chair, a flyswatter, a river stone, and a broom, and I have to laugh at my childishness. I discard my mental list. Instead I take a pair of earrings that belonged to my grandmother, (. . .) a photo of the six women—my four sisters, Mom, and me—that my brother took the day I left Colombia; the locket with a photo of my daughter that Mom wore around her neck like an amulet. I also seize the printout of Mom’s last EKG, taken two days ago.

“(. . .) I don’t know this yet but in six years I will look at this EKG and realize that the ink is fading away and with it the only existing traces of Mom’s heartbeat. I’ll have it tattooed around my left bicep, much to my family’s dismay, so that her heartbeat and mine will always be together.”

My Mother’s Funeral is the literal translation of that EKG tattoo, spanning decades, continents, and lives; a heartbeat that remains long after we scan the final page and move on into the days to come.

Robert Kostuck, Writing For Peace Guest WriterRobert Kostuck graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Masters in Education. His published work appears in the Kenyon Review, Concho River Review, Zone 3, Tiferet: Literature, Art, and the Creative Spirit, Silk Road, and others.

Writing for Peace News

Onward Into 2014!

Last year brought growth and many exciting firsts for Writing For Peace. Here’s a brief overview of 2013:

In 2013 our Advisers continued to demonstrate a commitment to peace and the power of writing through their work, their inspirational blog posts, brilliant ideas such as Mary Carroll-Hackett’s educational Facebook page for young writers, MCH-What’s Going On? and Pilar Rodriguez Aranda’s efforts to reach Spanish speaking young writers by translating our 2014 contest guidelines. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Sam Hamill‘s new and revised translated collection of Chinese poetry, Crossing the Yellow River is being published by Tiger’s Bark Press. His Selected Poems (not yet titled) will be published by Lost Horse Press in September 2014.
  • Lorraine Currelley was selected as an Artist-in-Residence for the 2014 Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) and as a new member of the Pearls of Wisdom Storytellers. Her Poets Network & Exchange will publish their first poetry anthology in 2014.
  • Veronica Golos is working on a new book, Root Work: The Lost Writings of John Brown and Mary Day Brown. “Of course John Brown was a great abolitionist and so was his wife, Mary and she also had 13 children. I have Ghost Code poems and Runaway poems also in the book. This is a way to make history live again, to get inside it so to speak.”
  • Richard Krawiec supports a community of writers and activists through education and his ever expanding Jacar Press.
  •  Maija Rhee Devine spoke with young people in South Korea and the United States about her award-winning books, The Voices of Heaven and Long Walks on Short Days, her experiences as a young girl during the Korean War, and her work with Korean Comfort Women.
  • Dr. Margaret Flowers continues her peace and healthcare activism. She currently serves as Secretary of Health on the Green Shadow Cabinet. Her recent article, Major Social Transformation Is a Lot Closer Than You May Realize — How Do We Finish the Job?, is also co-written with Kevin Zeese, and published on AlterNet.
  • Adriana Paramo‘s new memoir, My Mother’s Funeral, explores the volatile relationship with her mother, and their love that defies cultural forces, Bogotá street violence, and Medellin drug lords.

This is just a sampling of the wonderful work all our advisers do. Please watch our blog for their posts, follow their work, and support the poets and authors whose writings and activism encourage a more thoughtful and peaceful world.

In 2014, we look forward to hearing from Board Member Andrea W. Doray, who recently returned from Nepal, and to continued growth – including the occasional review on our blog! On this first day of the New Year, we welcome guest writer, Robert Kostuck, who reviews Adriana Paramo’s memoir, My Mother’s Funeral.

Happy New Year, Writers for Peace! And thank you for your ongoing support!

 

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weary of a Violent Vocabulary, by Andrea W. Doray

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

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

by Andrea W. Doray

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

Lockout, shooter, sealed off.

Gunman, at large, armed and dangerous.

Target, victim, attack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a lexicon I can live with.

 

 About Andrea W. Doray

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

Learn more about Andrea W. Doray here.

 

Writing for Peace News:

Mary Carroll-Hackett Joins WfP Advisory Panel

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

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

~Mary Carroll-Hackett

Mary Carroll-Hackett, Writing for Peace AdviserMary Carroll-Hackett earned an MFA in Literature and Writing from Bennington College in June 2003. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in more than a hundred journals including Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, The Potomac, Reed, Superstition Review, Drunken Boat and The Prose-Poem Project, among others. Her awards include being named a North Carolina Blumenthal Writer and winner of the Willamette Award for Fiction. She had an O Henry Recommended recognition for her story “Placing,” and her collection of poems, The Real Politics of Lipstick, won the 2010 annual poetry competition by Slipstream. Her chapbook Animal Soul, is forthcoming this year from Kattywompus Press. She has taught writing for nearly twenty years, and in 2003, founded the Creative Writing programs, undergraduate and graduate, at Longwood University in Farmville, VA, serving as Program Director of those programs until Fall 2011.

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

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

 WfP Adviser Visits Fort Collins High School

Maija Rhee Devine, Writing for Peace Adviser

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

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

Maija Rhee Devine, Writing for Peace Adviser

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

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

Maija Rhee Devine, Writing for Peace Adviser

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

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

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

Learn more about Maija here.

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

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

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

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

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

Young Writers Contest

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

In Our Blog~

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

Silent Day, by Richard Krawiec

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

Where Peace Begins, by Cara Lopez Lee

Opportunity, and Public Encouragement, by Richard Krawiec

A Stranger in Trouble, Part One, by Vicki Lindner

A Stranger in Trouble, Part Two, by Vicki Lindner

Exit Wound, by Melissa Hassard

Circle Jerk, by Pd Lietz

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

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

Like Taking Off Boots, by Maija Rhee Devine

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

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

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

 Every Month is Women’s History Month

by Andrea W. Doray

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberWhen I was little, yet old enough to start questioning the order of things, I asked my parents why we had a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but no Kid’s Day. The answer, of course, was that every day is Kid’s Day.

March was Women’s History Month in the U.S. So with this same spirit of questioning, I ask why we have a Women’s History Month, and not a Men’s History Month. The answer, of course, is that every month is Men’s History Month.

Please…hear me out.

The goals of Women’s History Month are admirable: to promote awareness of women’s contributions to society. However, doesn’t such a celebration also demean the very citizens it aims to honor by emphasizing that these contributions are so unusual they need such a celebration?

Women in America have been always been asking: Hear me. And, originally, that’s why March—as initiated by the U.S. Congress in 1987 and by presidential proclamation since 1995—is Women’s History Month, so designated to pay tribute to the nation’s women.

Few people would argue that the history of the United States belongs to everyone…the full history, that is. The contributions of the country’s women should be seamlessly integrated into the history books and not treated as “special.”

Special, no.

Extraordinary, yes…as extraordinary as any person’s deeds are in the chronicles of the United States.

It’s easy to point to momentous activities by American women because there seem to be so few of them. The women’s voting rights movement is one just one example, and commemorations of the March 3 suffragists’ march on Washington, DC, 100 years ago abound during this year’s Women’s History Month.

As they should.

To most of us today, the concept of barring about one half of the country’s population from voting for the direction of its future (and arresting those who try) is perplexing, if not downright bizarre.

Suffrage alone deserves its tribute, yet an examination of the reasons why American women even needed this century-long campaign shouldn’t be confined to Women’s History Month.

Justifiably then, the actions of America’s heroic women such as Dolley Madison, Harriett Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Abigail Adams—who in 1776 asked her husband, John, at work on the Declaration of Independence, to “remember the ladies”—should also all be credited.

That didn’t happen, and the Declaration’s wording to this day still specifies that all men are created equal. In fact, the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would eliminate bias on the basis of gender, first introduced in 1923, has never been ratified.

Yet, where would the United States be without Rosa Parks, without Gloria Steinem, without Sandra Day O’Connor, without women like my mother who served in World War II or those who kept the nation functioning at home during that time?

If you are saying here that I’ve left out thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of important and even infamous women from my list, you are exactly right.

That’s why women’s history is way too big to be cuddled into one month a year. Women of all ages and all ethnicities have made and are making history now, right alongside our men, whose achievements, by the way, I respect equally with those of women.

Please…hear me: Every month is Women’s History Month, and we shouldn’t need a calendar to remind us.

 

About Andrea W. Doray, Writing for Peace Board Member

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. Learn more about Andrea here.

Writing for Peace News:

In Our Blog~

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

Silent Day, by Richard Krawiec

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

Where Peace Begins, by Cara Lopez Lee

Opportunity, and Public Encouragement, by Richard Krawiec

A Stranger in Trouble, Part One, by Vicki Lindner

A Stranger in Trouble, Part Two, by Vicki Lindner

Exit Wound, by Melissa Hassard

Circle Jerk, by Pd Lietz

 

Young Writers Contest

Our 2013 Young Writers Contest closed on March 1st with 106 entries from 21 different countries! Announcements will be made on May 1st, 2013. Congratulations to every young writer who participated!  The 2014 Young Writers Contest Guidelines will be posted on June 1st, 2013.

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts

The  “Occupied” 2013 issue of DoveTales has gone to press! The release date is slated for March 30th, but you will begin seeing some exciting changes on the website before then. Stay tuned, and thank you for your support!

Equity for Women Writers

Writing for Peace encourages all young people to write and to believe their writing can make a difference, but is that equally true for boys and girls? Sadly, the latest VIDA Count indicates that we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the literary world. Please help us reverse this trend by reading works written be women and promoting your favorite women authors. Ask your children who they are reading in school, supplement their reading list with books by women authors, and talk to their teachers, librarians, and principals about adding women authors to their curriculum. Take note of the authors reviewed in your local papers and advocate for women authors. Head to your library or book store with a list of the twelve amazing women on our Advisory Panel. And please make a statement in support of women writers here. Thank you!

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

International Day of the Girl, by Andrea W. Doray

Without Us, the International Day of the Girl is Just an Ideal 

Andrea W. Doray

 Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberOctober 11 this year was the first “International Day of the Girl.”

Two days before that, 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head in an assassination attempt by the Taliban.

And four days before that, 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was abducted from her Westminster, Colorado, neighborhood, to be found murdered a week later.

Malala—who has inspired people around the world with her public stand against the Taliban’s ban on education for girls—is recovering in a hospital in Britain.

Jessica—who united a community in its search for her, and united a nation in its support of her family—did not survive.

The ideals of the International Day of the Girl…

What happened to Malala and Jessica is in stark contrast to the ideals of the International Day of the girl, adopted by the United Nations to recognize girls’ rights and to create awareness of the unique challenges girls face around the world.

Other organizations, in celebrating the International Day of the Girl, have said that, “When girls have the opportunity to be educated…society as a whole benefits.”

And both Malala and Jessica loved school. One, Jessica, was on her way to school when she disappeared. The other, Malala, was on her way home from school when she was shot by assassins sent from the Pakistani Taliban.

Tragically, it is our horror and disbelief that connect the 10-year-old from a quiet and nurturing Denver suburb with the 14-year-old from a village in northwestern Pakistan.

Both beloved by their families, both innocents, both children.

Both targeted, in part, for their gender.

An international travesty…

I believe that few of us would disagree that what happened to these girls is a travesty…a travesty against their youth, a travesty against their justice, a travesty against their right to exist.

And I believe that these two violent acts are violence against us, as well. When the world’s children are attacked, all of us are attacked…attacked to the very foundations of society.

Because anywhere girls are supported in reaching their potentials can be a society of secure futures for families and for communities, for nations and, by reasonable extension, the world.

In Colorado, USA, a program called “The Blossom Project” gathered proclamations from around the state to honor girls and hosted events to celebrate October 11.

The Blossom Project uses education to inspire high school girls to create visionary change, believing that young women play a critical role in the development of global civil society.

Some sobering statistics…

However, according to the National Women’s Law Center, one in four girls in America does not finish high school, and the Population Resource Bureau says that only 30% of girls worldwide are ever even enrolled in secondary school.

UNESCO—the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—reports also that, by 2015, females will make up 64% of the world’s adult population who cannot read.

The ideals of the International Day of the Girl that help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm to improve the lives of girls are just that—ideals—without the attention and action of people like you and me. Contact Writing for Peace for ways to help.

In their honor…

Malala Yousufzai, when she recovers, may get the chance to continue her education, to reach her potential, to play her role in the development of global civil society.

Jessica Ridgeway will not.

Don’t both of these girls deserve our action, in their honor, to make sure that other young girls do?

 

 

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. Learn more about Andrea here.

 

 

Get Involved:

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace

 

Call for Submissions: Be a part of our first issue of DoveTales.  The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. The submission deadline is October 30th. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Writing for Peace is developing an online Mentor Program: Learn more and apply here.

 

Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Mourning the Loss of Voices for Peace, by Andrea W. Doray

 Mourning the Loss of Voices for Peace

 Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board Memberby Andrea W. Doray

You may not know who Wislawa Szymborska was, but you might know who Carlos Fuentes was.

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.

 

 

Get Involved:

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.

 

Next time…

Alexandra Kinias, Writing for Peace Adviser

 

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.