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100 Poets against war

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  • Munir Pervaiz <munir.saami@rogers.com>
    There has always been anxiety about the role of writers in resisting tyranny, war, usurpation of rights, censorship, and writers involvement in resistance.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 28, 2003
      There has always been anxiety about the role of writers in resisting
      tyranny, war, usurpation of rights, censorship, and writers
      involvement in resistance.

      Here is an article from Canada's Globe and Mail about the efforts of a
      Canadian born writer in bringing together 100 poets to protest
      against the possible war with Iraq.

      Their collection of poetry can be accessed at:


      The article from The Globe and Mail is enclosed.
      Thanks. Munir
      From globeandmail.com, Tuesday, January 28, 2003
      100 poets enlisted in protest against war
      Montreal-born Todd Swift has organized
      an e-mail demonstration of antiwar verse

      One week ago, the Montreal-born poet Todd Swift was sitting in a
      Paris cafe, reading The Guardian, fuming about the hard-line American
      stance on war with Iraq.

      He decided to organize a protest—of powerful words and haunting
      images. And yesterday, to coincide with the release of the UN weapons
      inspectors' report, Swift e-mailed an anthology called 100 Poets
      Against the War to friends, family and far-flung acquaintances.

      In one day, the book (available at http://www.nthposition.com) spread
      like wildfire on the Internet, with people around the world reading
      the works of these poets, who congregated in one place to beat the
      antiwar drum.

      "What I was hoping to do with this book is contribute to a growing
      sense that we're not a minority in opposing this war any more," said
      Swift, 36, who was reached by phone yesterday in the French capital
      where he is currently living with his fiancee. "In fact, we're
      becoming a cultural majority.

      "Most Europeans are quite upset by what looks like an aggressive,
      unilateral push by the United States for war, at a time when everyone
      else wants time for further discussion and more reflection," added

      "I thought, let's move quickly and get something out that inspires
      and contains a powerful message. I wanted to let people who are
      opposed to the war know they're not alone."

      Canadian contributors include Robert Priest, bill bissett, Maggie
      Helwig, Di Brandt and George Murray.

      The Toronto-born Murray, who now lives in New York, said the 100
      Poets Against the War initiative is important for what it awakens and
      also for the values it attempts to instill. "So many people seem to
      think that the poet or poetry doesn't have a useful place in
      society," said Murray, who contributed his poem The Field.

      "But poetry is the oldest form of the evening news, and it used to
      play a very critical role politically. First, by disseminating
      information and second, by commenting on it.

      "This kind of effort, regardless of how valuable each poem is on its
      own, as a collection represents a step forward for the kind of
      activism that poets need to be part of, that the arts community needs
      to be part of."

      Murray says he just received an e-mail from the American poet Sam
      Hamill, who is trying to organize a project similar to Swift's 100
      Poets Against the War.

      Hamill was inspired by a letter he received from the White House,
      which requested his company at an afternoon reception and symposium
      on "Poetry and the American Voice" on Feb. 12. In his e-mail, Hamill
      told literary colleagues: "When I picked up my mail and saw the
      letter marked `The White House,' I felt no joy. Rather I was overcome
      by a kind of nausea."

      In his note, Hamill said, "Only the day before I had read a lengthy
      report on President Bush's proposed `Shock and Awe' attack on Iraq,
      calling for saturation bombing that would be like the firebombing of
      Dresden or Tokyo, killing countless innocent civilians.

      "I believe the only legitimate response to such a morally bankrupt
      and unconscionable idea is to reconstitute a Poets Against the War
      movement like the one organized to speak out against the war in
      Vietnam." (Hamill is referring to the 1967 antiwar demonstration that
      featured leading literary lights such as Robert Lowell, Allen
      Ginsberg and Norman Mailer, who attempted to "levitate" the Pentagon.
      Mailer later celebrated the march in his work The Armies of the

      Hamill then asked every poet "to speak up for the conscience of our
      country and lend his or her name to our petitition against this war,"
      which he plans to present to first lady Laura Bush on Feb. 12, a day
      he hopes will become dedicated to poetry against the war.
      The field

      By George Murray

      The sky has been aged, is ancient enough now
      to have lost its teeth, clamping one smooth gum
      down on the other in a wry horizon's bite.
      That the violence we have witnessed
      was not random while the kindness was,
      how insulting to our attempts at existentialism!
      Can we not even frighten ourselves
      with philosophy anymore? That intent
      could replace randomness as our greatest fear
      speaks of how far we've come;
      from there to here, from right to just left of right,
      from fallen to the lower part of down. The corn
      that stretches into the distance,
      once an orderly army, has grown slack, wild,
      and hoary, each stalk standing at ease
      instead of attention, and in a place of its choosing,
      bearing those heavy yellow arms in a silence
      similar to hushed anticipation. Listen to the wind,
      the brewing rain, the field of fire, the flight
      of distant machinery, the coded plan of attack.

      From 100 Poets Against the War, published on
    • Sain Sucha
      Munir Sahib, thanks for sending me 100 poets to protest against the possible war in Iraq. I sent out a new year greeting to my friends. Although the new year
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 29, 2003
        Munir Sahib,
        thanks for sending me 100 poets to protest against
        the possible war in Iraq.
        I sent out a new year greeting to my friends. Although the new year is no
        longer relevant I believe my greetings still are!
        I am sending a copy of it to this group of friends too:

        Sain Sucha (Sweden)

        I know who you are!

        From the
        Shiny buttons and stars on your uniforms
        Silky ties that match your suits
        And the flashy turbans that go with your kaftans

        I smell the stench of
        Vomit from the terrified soldiers
        Sweat and urine of the trapped civilians
        And oozing blood from the dead bodies.

        I hear the sound of
        Moaning from the wounded men
        Lament from the widowed women
        And sobbing of the orphaned children.

        How dare you call yourself a human being?
        In pursuit of conceit like
        Wealth, fame, eminence or triumph
        You annihilate your fellow beings!

        I recognised you
        When you called yourself
        Pharaoh, Herod, Attila, Hitler or Stalin,
        And I recognise you
        When you call yourself
        Bush, Blair, Saddam, Sharon or Yassir.
        You think that by putting on different masks
        And using different names
        You could elude me?

        No, you are wrong —
        I recognise you
        Because I know both of your facades:
        You pretend to be
        Bold, brave, just and righteous
        A champion of equality for mankind!
        But in reality you are merely
        A coward and a cheat
        Who, hiding behind bullet-proof shelter,
        And with swarms of bodyguards
        Coax innocent young men and women to
        Offer their lives and die or kill in the name of
        God, democracy, justice, and peace.

        But tell me:
        If honour, victory and glory,
        Through sacrifice and martyrdom,
        Is what you commend and aspire to,
        Then how come You,
        In the manner of your previous aliases,
        Are still alive;
        While so many of your followers,
        Misled by you over the centuries,
        Are dead?

        I know who you are —
        A phoney, deceitful Man
        Who, using the net of patriarchy,
        Spun of devious customs and traditions,
        Strives to entrap, subdue or eliminate
        All opposition to secure your own rank.

        Maybe you believe that
        After a life full of follies
        YOUR GOD would forgive you
        If you were to go and kill
        The children of ANOTHER GOD,
        Whom YOUR GOD refuses or discards!

        Take heed!
        I would always oppose you,
        I would always disgrace you,
        My name is LIFE.
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