Sunday, November 07, 2004

Poets Against the War

I admit it: I'm a book freak. I can't get enough of them. I can wander around a bookstore for hours and never be bored. This weekend, that's exactly what I was doing, at the local B. Daltons (this is small-town Minnesota; heaven forbid we build an actual bookstore anywhere within a 100-mile radius). The poetry section of this particular store consists of the bottom two shelves at the veeeeery end of the fiction section. Most people probably wouldn't even notice it was there. But poetry is one of my favorite things and, as such, I take a little extra time to risk back pain, crouch down, and actually take a look at the titles.

I left with two books that day, both of which I plan to talk about here. The first is called Poets Against the War, edited by Sam Hamill. The summary on the back of the book intrigued me; Laura Bush had invited Mr. Hamill to a White House Symposium on "Poety and the American Voice". But Mr. Hamill had recently read about Bush's "Shock and Awe" plan for Iraq, and he was disgusted by the thought. So he sent out an open letter to the poetry community, calling for them to submit anti-war poetry to the "Poets Against the War" website (bet you were wondering when I'd get the internet to fit into all of this). All 13,000 of the poems that were collected were presented to the US Congress. The book is a collection of some of the best of these poems.

Luckily for me, all of the submissions--including the ones that were printed in the book--are available at the website, so here is a list of a few of my favorites:

  • I Do Not Want You, Petroleum, by Majid Naficy: The first stanza is perfect, and I love the last two lines--
    I thought you gave me blood.
    Now I see, you made me bleed.

  • Peace On The Land We Live On, by Wilden McIntosh-Round: I love how simply stated this is. You wouldn't guess that a 7-year-old could write something like that. At least, I wouldn't.

  • The Olive Wood Fire by Galway Kinnell: Nice to see a name I know. This poem sends chills down my spine.

    And lest you think that the United States has a monopoly on peace-loving poets, the website provides a list of similar projects from around the world. This one from Austrailia is pretty good.

    I suppose you can probably guess that this post is at least partially inspired by that whole election thingie we did this year. I was talking with another poetically-inclined friend of mine, and she said that this war, this unrest, is the sort of thing that inspired great poetry in times past, and we're due for another generation of poets and writers to speak out. It happened to some extent in World War II (check out A. E. Housman if you don't believe me), it happened in Vietnam, and it will likely happen again here, and it will use the internet as the newest medium of expression.

    Blogger j e p p e said...

    That is one bright seven year old.

    1:21 PM  
    Blogger Angel said...

    No kidding...

    9:07 PM  

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