Tag Archives: Veronica Golos

Poems from ROOTWORK, by Veronica Golos

Veronica rootwork croppedPoems from ROOTWORK

by Veronica Golos

From The Lost Notebook, Mary Day Brown_________________
 
Elba, New York, late evening, December 6, 1859.
five days after the hanging of my husband John Brown
 
This morning they began to arrive. First
a small wagon, a man, his young son
beside him. Then an entire
family, three children, father
mother, grandmother.
Even some we had
helped on to Canada. I stood
in my doorway, as the tract around the house
filled with horses, wagons, those who
had walked. Mr. Epps was nearby,
Mr. Riddick, silent as always.

I will not weep.

All day, the crowd grew, many wearing black armbands,
mostly the negroes, & there were
hundreds—& a number
of whites as well. There was little talk. Whispers
as someone moved to make room.
Dusk settled upon us; campfires flared—
huge stars, the ground
a hard sky. Somewhere, someone
began to sing:

My Lord what a Morning
My Lord what a Morning
Oh My Lord, what a Morning
When the stars begin to fall.

People stood, swaying, firelight flickering.
It was a song well known,
their voices came together, a keening sound.
A sole harmonica,
far back in the crowd. I could hear horses snorting,
the rustle of animals in the woods.
The words, no, the feeling inside the words, for him,
made me tremble. I had to sit. His chair,
where he liked to rest
as the sun went down.

From The Lost Letters, John Brown to Mary Day Brown

Charlestown Prison, Jefferson County, Virginia,
December 1, 1859.

Dearest Wife,

Mrs. Frances Harper has agreed to deliver this letter.
I trust her completely, as do you. She will help, I believe, in the days
to come. Trust, also, in the Lord.

I say trust in the Lord & yet I send this missive
full of questions. What have I left
undone, unsaid? I do not doubt the Lord, but
we tried to rally great numbers, & we did fail. Have I
sacrificed my sons as Abraham might have done? Have I
laid down others upon an altar? Did I
judge wrongly? That slavery will come to its end
through fire, that I do not doubt. It is my own life
that I wonder, have I done it right?

I know the Lord is righteous, & the passion the enslaved
bring to Bible removes any doubt – yet, Mary, the suffering.

We lived together at Kennedy’s farm, negro and white,
your daughters too. All were upright & were branded with friendship,
not iron. Can not the world be as this? Together & in dignity?
 
All fallen as we are?

Your husband, John Brown

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace Adviser release, small

.ghost code. before.
Here
sand is flat
and the wet
salt ticks
through air
the sea slurs

into the hair of tides
I am still damp
when I wake from before
deep in this
in-between

I hear the low bells
charge the air
a bonnet
of ringing about my head

O I remember     once I loved a bound man

I hid
his flowers
under the floorboards
and the small
shells
of his loving
I buried
beneath the tulips

I owned nothing
not   myself   only
his kindness
dripping down my throat
for me to taste

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace Adviser release, small

From The Lost Notebook, Mary Day Brown

Elba, New York, May, 1855.

It is dark & I write by a thin light.
The children still sleep.
John Brown away to Kansas with his sons.
I am gaining something here. Hard
work does not fray me; I am a dry
cord, wood piled & ready to be burned.

Yesterday, two Abolition Ladies visited
to bring us funds. They lifted their skirts
above the mud.
I was planting with my negro neighbors, Mr. Epps & Mr.
Riddick. We’d already shorn their sheep. We were heavy
with work.

“Oh, I see,” Mrs. Wrightworth said. “You
have no men folk here.”

I write this, my anger a blue flame.
My neighbors turned—walked
the steep hill toward their farms; the maples
were shaking in the light.
Here, in Elba, finally, it is spring.
Outside is all loveliness—the lilacs are just about to
bloom

through. I am so ashamed.
The good-intended
can cut a wound & worse, they do
not know what they do.

About Writing for Peace Adviser Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace Adviser B&WVeronica Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence, winner of the New Mexico Book Award, poems from which are translated into Arabic by poet Nizar Sartawi, and A Bell Buried Deep, co-winner of the 16th Annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (Story Line Press), to be re-issued by Tupelo Press. Her most recent poetry book is Rootwork: The Lost Writings of John Brown & Mary Day Brown, (3: A Taos Press, 2015). Golos is the Poetry Editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (Harvard Divinity School), and co-editor of the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art. She lives in Taos, NM, with her husband, David Pérez. Learn more about Veronica’s work here. ROOTWORK is available for purchase through 3 Taos Press.

 

 

quill3Victoria’s Writing Tips~

Writing Through Sorrow

By Victoria Hanley

For this writing exercise, I encourage you to remember and record a sorrow that you have lived through. When and where was it? Who was there, and what happened? Write it all out, and let your emotions come through, as if your words are tears on the page. Keep writing, and let it all pour out of you, even if it feels as if your tears are an ocean. Write, write until your heart begins to feel something new, until you have some bit of freedom from this sorrow.

Meet Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace Adviser

Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace AdviserVictoria Hanley’s novels have won many honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, and Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and at Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins.

Learn more about Victoria’s books, read her blog, download a free chapter of Wild Ink, and watch Victoria in action at www.victoriahanley.com.

Small Writing for Peace logo

Writing for Peace News

Activism Update From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserRead Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese latest article on TPP Fast Track here.

Follow the latest Popular Resistance developments here.

 

DoveTales “Nature” Edition Update

DoveTales "Nature" CoverDoveTales “Nature” is now in the distribution process, making its way across the globe through the USPS. We’ve sent two shipments this week, and a third will go out on Saturday!

To all those who have ordered books for yourself, family, and friends, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Book sales go a long way toward the substantial costs of funding our mission.

DoveTales are available through our website here.

 

 Copyright © 2015 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veronica Golos Interviews Sam Hamill (Part II)

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 27

Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

*Parental Guidance Warning –The poets featured during our February Daily PAW Posts write of war and its effect on the human heart. Writing for Peace has not censored these poems, and we encourage parents to review the content before sharing them with children.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

Small Writing for Peace logoIn this special interview, Veronica Golos talks with Sam Hamill about the role of poetry, living reality, and love.

(Part Two of Two)

 Veronica Golos:

I’ve just finished reading an interview with you by Lisa Morphew, in the Ashville Poetry Review, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2012, Issue 22.  It is very personal, and you answered willingly and at length about your past, about the era into which you came to manhood.  It seemed a tribute to Kenneth Rexroth actually.  He spoke against, as you quote, “a society which grows daily more depraved and destructive…the poet is always called upon to play his role of prophet, in the Biblical sense, whatever else he may be about.”

I was struck by the intimacy of the interview, especially questions about your relationship to your late wife, Gray.  I bring this up, because your poem, Visitation, published in the inaugural issue of the Taos Journal of Poetry & Art, of which I am co-edited, has haunted me.  There is such vitality to your voice, such subdued passion, and here in this poem, it seems to me, such a delicate touch, a very Japanese feel to it.  If I may quote it:

 Visitation

I wake suddenly, in the middle of the night,
and realize I’m stroking the pillow beside me,
dreaming of my wife who is six months dead.

I rise and brush my teeth and pour a stiff drink
and go out into the garden to sit
on the old iron bench and think.

It’s after midnight and the moon is full.
And after a long silence, I hear, faintly,
a woman’s heels’ chink, chink, chink,

against the ancient cobblestone
beyond the garden wall
as she makes her way down the street.

In the Asheville Poetry Review interview, you also say the Bodhisattva, “perceives the cries of the world.”

I’d like to pull these together – this deep and abiding speaking as a social “prophet,” as one who hears the cries of the world, and a writer of such a love poem, full of absence and grief.

Sam Hamill:

How can we actually learn what love is without learning to fully love this earth on which we stand?

 
I think of W.C. Williams writing in The Wedge that “everything is about the war,” and that he as a poet is simply working in a different sector of the field. Every serious poet, consciously or otherwise, is composing his or her own cosmology. Opening the heart to the truth of experience and engaged imagination, one is “given” the poem via his or her Muse and must compose him/herself via deep listening in order to transform the gift of inspiration into the artifact, the experience, of the poetry. Master K’ung reminds us that emotions are, of themselves, neither good nor bad, (we all have them), but what we make of them matters most. I think anger (not rage) can be a motivator to overcome injustice and cruelty. Even the murderers and torturers are human, misguided in their actions and misunderstanding “reality.” And yet murderers and torturers must be brought to justice.

I could go on at length about what Williams (and Olson & Creeley & Levertov & Duncan) mean about “field composition,” but that would require a whole essay. Suffice to say that “organic poetry” is a means of opening the heart while upholding the deepest values of our lives. The real value of poetry, to me at least, lies in the ways in which poems—my own and many others’— shape and inform, revolutionizes, my life. My *whole* life. I don’t, for instance, enter contests, the beauty pageants of the poetry community. One of my great masters, Tu Fu, died an unknown poet. Two centuries later he was recognized as one of China’s greatest poets ever. It’s not about recognition or popularity contests. It is simply a way of life… I am given poems to compose and I compose by listening to what speaks to my heart and ear. The voices and melos are a plenitude of wisdom and beauty. As Gary Snyder said long ago, “As a poet, I hold the most archaic values on earth.” Being, the Buddha observed, is agonizing or suffering. Poetry is one of the ten thousand paths to the Buddha; through poetry (as various as that word may be), we may find self-realization and do away with the “I-and-thou” and competitive mind-set that makes war possible (as well as poetry contests) and we come into a world of only “we,” we-are-oneness” in our struggle in this sentient interdependent world. To value life requires valuing the cosmos that makes life possible. How can we actually learn what love is without learning to fully love this earth on which we stand? —The very dirt and stone of it. We must protect it from capitalism just as we must protect those who suffer most from organized oppression. We must love and resist and rebel.

 

Sources:

Ashville Poetry Review, Vol 19, no. 1, 2012, Issue 22

The Progressive, Interview by Anne-Marie Cusac, Apirl 2003, www.progressive.org/mag_cusachamill

Paul e Nelson, http://paulemelson.com/organic-poetry/why-poetry-matters-sam

Poet Reflects on 30 Years of Publishing Poetry    www.kearneyhub.com/content/tncms/live/

Poets Against the War  2006  http://poieinkaiprattein.org/poetry/poiein-kai-prattein-and-the-poets

A Monks Tale, by Sam Hamill

EYES WIDE OPEN  www.rattle.com/poetry/2011/03/eyes-wide-open-by-sam-hamill

Poems, by Sam Hamill    www.lorenwebster.net/In_a_Dark_Time/category/poets/sam hamill

An E-view with Sam Hamill by Rebecca Seiferle, The Drunken Boat   www.thedrunkenboat.com/hamillview.thm

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace Advisor

About Writing for Peace Adviser, Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos is the author of two books, Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award, poems from which are translated into Arabic by poet Nizar Sartawi, and A Bell Buried Deep (Storyline Press, 2004), co-winner of the 16th Annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Edward Hirsch, and adapted for stage and performed at Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA.  A Bell Buried Deep is set to be re-issued by Tupelo Press, with an introduction by Patricia Smith, in 2014.

Golos’s poems are included in The Poet’s CraftAnnie Finch, Editor, 2012, University of Michigan Press; Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined, 3: A Taos Press, 2011, and in journals including Spillway, Meridians, Drunken Boat, Orion, Cimarron, Contemporary World Literature, Sin Fronteras, Verso (Paris), Poetry (London), Rattle, World Literature Magazine Spring’s Forum. Translated Poems from Vocabulary of Silence have appeared in over 24 journals and publications throughout the Middle East including (Syria), www.nabee.awatf.com,  www.saddana.com, (UAE),www.shenrayar.com/ar, (Iraq)  www.Alimbaratur.com (Denmark) and Maqal (Kuwait).

Golos is Acquisitions Editor for 3:A Taos Press, and co-editor of the Taos Journal of Poetry & Art.

 

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace Advisor

About Writing for Peace Adviser, Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill is the author of more than forty books, including fifteen volumes of original poetry (most recently Measured by Stone and Almost Paradise: New & Selected Poems & Translations); four collections of literary essays, including A Poet’s Work and Avocations: On Poetry & Poets; and some of the most distinguished translations of ancient Chinese and Japanese classics of the last half-century. He co-founded, and for thirty-two years was editor at, Copper Canyon Press. He taught in prisons for fourteen years and has worked extensively with battered women and children. An outspoken political pacifist, in 2003, declining an invitation to the White House, he founded Poets Against War, compiling the largest single-theme poetry anthology in history, 30,000 poems by 26,000 poets. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Mellon Fund, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission; other honors include the Stanley Lindberg Lifetime Achievement Award for Editing, the Washington Poets’ Association Lifetime Achievement in Poetry Award, two Washington Governor’s Arts Awards, a Western States Book Award, a PEN-Oakland Anti-censorship Award, a PEN Center/USA First Amendment Award, the Charity Randall Award from The Poetry Forum, and the Condecoración de la Universidad de Carabobo in Valencia, Venezuela. His work has been translated into a dozen languages. He lives in Anacortes, Washington.

February Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at editor@writingforpeace.org, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

2013 Young Writers Contest

Contest Deadline is March 1st! The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.

DoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!

 

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Veronica Golos Interviews Sam Hamill (Part I)

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 26

During the month of February, Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

*Parental Guidance Warning –The poets featured during our February Daily PAW Posts write of war and its effect on the human heart. Writing for Peace has not censored these poems, and we encourage parents to review the content before sharing them with children.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

Small Writing for Peace logo

  In this special interview, Veronica Golos talks with Sam Hamill about the role of poetry, living reality, and love.

(Part One of Two)

 

Veronica Golos:

Well, I feel as though I do know you — one of the many benefits of Face Book.  We share many of the same views on a whole host of topics, including, I believe, the role of poetry.  The role of poetry especially for “American’ writers.

I thought we might begin with a quote from Camus, one you used in an article.

Camus reminds us that if art ‘adapts itself to what the majority of our society wants, art will be a meaningless recreation. If it blindly rejects that society, if the artist makes up his (sic) mind to take refuge in his dreams, art will express nothing but a negation. In this way we shall have the production of entertainers or of formal grammarians, and in both cases this leads to an art cut off from living reality.

Did or does PAW prove that in fact there is an “American” art NOT cut off from living reality?  For my own recent poetry book, Vocabulary of Silence, I read a great deal of translated Arab poetry, and certainly so much of their poetry is part and parcel of their living reality. An awareness of the world and a response to it.

May we start here, and I’ll pick up questions from your reply?
Sam Hamill:

Living reality is learning the names of children bombed from drones, remembering the heroes who exposed this country’s war crimes, war crimes that continue day by day. 

26,000 poets writing almost exclusively in American idiom suggests that the poetry of engagement is alive in this country. What is the general political reality? That our poetry would make no difference in the political arena except as agitation. We were a “liberal minority” in a country that has loved and profited from war from Day One.

Nevertheless, many of the nightmares predicted in the poetry became reality on the ground. I was granted five minutes of fame, not for organizing against the war, but for embarrassing the White House. Our major media asked questions worthy of a bright third grade student —”Is it poetry if it doesn’t rhyme?” “Do you think a poem can stop a war?” “If your poetry doesn’t change anything, why write it at all?” I was subjected to ad hominem attacks in the op/ed pages of the NY Times and the Wall St Journal, in both instances by former Nixon speech writers, telling me that I was a nobody. The fact remains: Poets Against War was an effective call to resistance. And while we couldn’t stop the attack, we helped turn the tide of American opinion against the slaughter. But the slaughter continues in new incarnations. Living reality is learning the names of children bombed from drones, remembering the heroes who exposed this country’s war crimes, war crimes that continue day by day.
 Veronica Golos:

I’ve been reading some of the really excellent interviews (there are so many) with you.  In all of them, you offer an affirmation of poetry, an affirmation that poetry matters.  Of course, as an author of over 40 books and translations, teaching in prisons, continuing the PAW, and your keen awareness of the present state of the world, you have viewed both poetry and the world for a long time.

In your interview with Paul E. Nelson, you are quoted: “In order to transcend a materialist culture we have to have spiritual values.  We have to have a spiritual economy, an economy of the soul. Poetry is part of that commerce.  It lives outside the mainstream economy.”

Could you elaborate on this?  Especially in light of these continued and ever expanding US wars, of which you speak so eloquently and forcefully?

Could you give us examples of how your Zen practice, and the righteous anger you express, combine in your poetry?
Sam Hamill:

The poem is ultimately a gift, a bestowal. It’s an investment in human character. 

Poetry begins with the gift of inspiration—drawing in the breath of one’s Muse to become pregnant with meaning; that “meaning” is transformed into the energy of poetry through insight and craft in order to become the poem. The poem is then given away on the breath of the poet. This transference and transformation of energy and insight then becomes inspiration for the next listener who also passes it along. The poem is ultimately a gift, a bestowal. It’s an investment in human character.

I have lived my life in accord with what the Chinese call san chiao, the “three systems of thought” that include the sometimes seemingly conflicting teachings of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Lao Tzu tells us that “no name names the name” of the Tao, that words have limits and understanding Tao lies beyond words. Master K’ung teaches us that “all wisdom is rooted in learning to call things by their right names.” Buddhism teaches us to practice compassion and right mindfulness in a world in which “being is agonizing,” and that we already have within us our own awakening. I take these fundamental teachings not as religion, but as applied practical existential philosophy. Lao Tzu says, “You find yourself by serving others.” My primary service has been to poetry, to the life of poetry— as poet, as editor, as translator. Buddhists say, “There are ten thousand paths to the Buddha.” Poetry is one of those paths.

We live in a house that is burning down around us. Corporate capitalism has no spiritual values. We call our country and ourselves “exceptional,” and divorce ourselves from the suffering we inflict all around us. Our leadership needs a “they” to create fear, some “other” that is threatening us even as we manufacture the threats as we did with Iraq. But there is no “they.” There is only a “we,” as in human being, and our violence turns back on us constantly. When a house is burning down, you can’t sit idly by and claim to be working on your own spiritual advancement. You must act to put out the fire and try to save lives. The Bodhisattva “perceives the cries of the world,” and refuses to enter nirvana until all sentient beings become enlightened. His or her actions begin in compassion for those who suffer the most, but extend ultimately even to those who are murderers and the accomplices of murderers. I think of the courage of Albert Camus who pleaded against the death penalty even for war criminals. Every day we see our language corrupted by our political class, we read of drones bombing children while our president tearfully addresses the slaughter of children by a mad man. Lies and hypocrisy and greed rule our public air waves and our political process. Camus tells us that the line between murderers (and their accomplices) can be clearly drawn by those who refuse to become accomplices and says, “we must resist with our whole being.”

The poem is the dance of heart and intellect among the ten thousand things. Like any other kind of writing, it can be trivialized and corrupted. But the true poem arises naturally and is less “about” the poet than about human character and shared experience. Many of us, I believe, are deeply inspired by those who have been silenced. When silence is complicitous, we must speak out and speak clearly.

 

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace AdvisorAbout Writing for Peace Adviser, Veronica Golos

Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award, as well as A Bell Buried Deep, co winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (Story Line Press). She was Poet in Residence at Sacred Heart Academy in Greenwich, CT in 2005, at the Nassau Museum of Art, and Yaxche School in Taos,New Mexico. She has lectured on Teaching Poetry to Children at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and Colorado State College. Golos’ work has been widely published and anthologized nationally and internationally, including Meridians, Drunken Boat, Orbus (London), and Liqueur44 (Paris). She has performed at the Nuyorican Café, LincolnCenter, and Cornelia Street Café in NYC, and many venues in the Southwest. A lifelong activist for social justice, humanitarian and peace causes, Golos uses her poetry not only to interpret and question but “to challenge and act.”

Learn more about Veronica Golos here.

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace Advisor

About Writing for Peace Adviser, Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill is the author of more than forty books, including fifteen volumes of original poetry (most recently Measured by Stone and Almost Paradise: New & Selected Poems & Translations); four collections of literary essays, including A Poet’s Work and Avocations: On Poetry & Poets; and some of the most distinguished translations of ancient Chinese and Japanese classics of the last half-century. He co-founded, and for thirty-two years was editor at, Copper Canyon Press. He taught in prisons for fourteen years and has worked extensively with battered women and children. An outspoken political pacifist, in 2003, declining an invitation to the White House, he founded Poets Against War, compiling the largest single-theme poetry anthology in history, 30,000 poems by 26,000 poets. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Mellon Fund, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission; other honors include the Stanley Lindberg Lifetime Achievement Award for Editing, the Washington Poets’ Association Lifetime Achievement in Poetry Award, two Washington Governor’s Arts Awards, a Western States Book Award, a PEN-Oakland Anti-censorship Award, a PEN Center/USA First Amendment Award, the Charity Randall Award from The Poetry Forum, and the Condecoración de la Universidad de Carabobo in Valencia, Venezuela. His work has been translated into a dozen languages. He lives in Anacortes, Washington.

February Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at editor@writingforpeace.org, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

2013 Young Writers Contest

Contest Deadline is March 1st! The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.

DoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!

 

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Vocabulary of Silence, by Veronica Golos

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 20

During the month of February, Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

*Parental Guidance Warning –The poets featured during our February Daily PAW Posts write of war and its effect on the human heart. Writing for Peace has not censored these poems, and we encourage parents to review the content before sharing them with children.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

Small Writing for Peace logo

Vocabulary of Silence, Arabic translation by Nizar Sartawi
 

Vocabulary of Silence

 by Veronica Golos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace AdvisorAbout Writing for Peace Adviser, Veronica Golos

Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award, as well as A Bell Buried Deep, co winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (Story Line Press). She was Poet in Residence at Sacred Heart Academy in Greenwich, CT in 2005, at the Nassau Museum of Art, and Yaxche School in Taos,New Mexico. She has lectured on Teaching Poetry to Children at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and Colorado State College. Golos’ work has been widely published and anthologized nationally and internationally, including Meridians, Drunken Boat, Orbus (London), and Liqueur44 (Paris). She has performed at the Nuyorican Café, LincolnCenter, and Cornelia Street Café in NYC, and many venues in the Southwest. A lifelong activist for social justice, humanitarian and peace causes, Golos uses her poetry not only to interpret and question but “to challenge and act.”

Learn more about Veronica Golos here.

February Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at editor@writingforpeace.org, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

2013 Young Writers Contest

Contest Deadline is March 1st! The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.

DoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Dream: The City: Baghdad, 2008, by Veronica Golos

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 13

During the month of February, Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

*Parental Guidance Warning –The poets featured during our February Daily PAW Posts write of war and its effect on the human heart. Writing for Peace has not censored these poems, and we encourage parents to review the content before sharing them with children.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

Small Writing for Peace logo
Dream: The City: Baghdad, 2008, Arabic translation by Nizar Sartawi

Dream: The City: Baghdad, 2008

by Veronica Golos

Who am I that I sit here at this door?
In my dream, there is a long alley, a place I learn Want.

The city is a mirror. Inside my reflection, old men are on fire—
Flaming like red kaffiyahs.

Litter ignites into funeral flares; the bread of the dead is baking.
Above the moans of children, soldiers warm their hands.

Avenues widen into downpour, detours unfold, flower into cemeteries.
Into this narrow place, two rivers clash.

Am I the one covered with brine, smelling of tides?
Or am I the stone, lifted like a flag?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream: The City: Baghdad, 2008”, was previously published in Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011).

 

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace AdvisorAbout Writing for Peace Adviser, Veronica Golos

Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award, as well as A Bell Buried Deep, co winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (Story Line Press). She was Poet in Residence at Sacred Heart Academy in Greenwich, CT in 2005, at the Nassau Museum of Art, and Yaxche School in Taos,New Mexico. She has lectured on Teaching Poetry to Children at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and Colorado State College. Golos’ work has been widely published and anthologized nationally and internationally, including Meridians, Drunken Boat, Orbus (London), and Liqueur44 (Paris). She has performed at the Nuyorican Café, LincolnCenter, and Cornelia Street Café in NYC, and many venues in the Southwest. A lifelong activist for social justice, humanitarian and peace causes, Golos uses her poetry not only to interpret and question but “to challenge and act.”

Learn more about Veronica Golos here.

 

Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at editor@writingforpeace.org, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

2013 Young Writers Contest

The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Contest deadline is March 1st, 2013. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.

DoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!

 

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Bop (k)not: Juba! Juba! by Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace AdvisorWhat Could Be More Important?

by Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), and winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award. Her poetry immerses us in everyday beauty – the line of sheets drying amidst hollyhocks and russian sage – while tearing away the illusion that we, as Americans, are somehow uniquely entitled to our gardens. Her poetry doesn’t allow the comfortable notion of distance, that war is something that happens across the ocean to “others.” A mother and father’s love for their child is the same in America, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Palestine, or Vietnam. Children all across this fragile globe are equally entitled to security and peace.

When asked to talk about her award winning book and the reasons she joined Writing for Peace, Veronica had this to say:

Vocabulary of Silence is a book of poems of witnessing-from-afar.  It is an effort not to escape the trial of what the country into which I was born is wreaking upon Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza, and its own countrymen and women.  But I mean the poems to be poems, that is, to have some song in them, to have passion, music, truth in them.  To be crafted.  The Bop (k)not: Juba! Juba! poem is in a new form, The Bop, devised by poet Afaa Michael Weaver.  Bop(K)not: Juba! Juba! was first published in Pemmican Press, and is included in Vocabulary of Silence.  (The Bop is a poetic form of recent invention, created by African-American poet Afaa Michael Weaver.)

I am glad to be part of the Writing for Peace organization.  What could be more important?  The entire world seems to be spinning toward war, with the United States invading, occupying, and being the colonial empire.  I do think that Writing for Peace, and also the idea of localized peace effort, is a wonderful one.


Bop (k)not: Juba! Juba!

problem…roses.  You’re hanging the just-washed clothes in the stringent sun,
the hollyhocks sigh their deep sighs as they lean their heavy stems against the wall,
the first lavender iris has come and gone, the russian sage is sunning itself. The wild
roses multiply, base and prickly, their bunched pink faces exhale a perfume to make you
giddy as you flip the wet sheets over the ropeline you’ve strung from fence to tree.
The birds are almost speaking.  You are happy.  Juba!

Juba: A city in southern Sudan on the White Nile River;
formerly, in the American South, a lively rustic dance with much “clapping and thigh-slapping,” the word Juba! repeated as a refrain;
Happiness—

an elaborate flounce, lacey twirl-swirl soft plated spin-spiral pine design of overlap:
the Golden Mean.  I mean: I part the leaves of the flower,
lift one then another & another to find the seam, flotsam of my dreams,
Juba—Juba!
and there she is, the girl running to me, her face of chaste petals
tearing, her puregirl mons venus-bomb-napalm-photo-run—
I am strung
between Juba! and sorrow-song—

Juba: A city in Sudan on the White Nile River;
in America’s South, dance with much “hand clapping, thigh-slapping,” Juba! repeated;
Happiness—

the brazen sun revolving, stroking and spilling over me & the wide-mouthed poppies,
the buzz-hum iridescence of birdwhirling—what rises here I can barely name, how is it possible, this Juba!?          Nonong qua! nong qua! her Vietnamese girl-voice
clicks, too hot too hot—no—I say back, I love the sun—nong qua! nong qua!
she moans –  I turn –  I can’t turn away –  she is here in my garden…
how will I turn back – nonq qua! – how?  to my Juba! again?

 Juba: Sudan. White Nile. Dance, clap Juba! Repeat.
Happiness—

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.