Poets Against War continues the tradition of socially engaged poetry by creating venues for poetry as a voice against war, tyranny and oppression.

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USMC Brig. Gen. Smedley Butler, War is a Racket (1933):

After winning the Marine Corps Brevet Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the French Order of the Black Star and two Congressional Medals of Honor, Butler said, "I spent 33 years and four months in active service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

Read his speech here:


Turning the Page

As we approach eight years since founding Poets Against (the) War in January 2003, it is time to reconsider our usefulness. We have anthologized http://dream-trading.co.za/1xbet-promo-code-and-deposit-bonus nearly 30,000 poems by 26,000 poets in opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Following our "drawdown" in Iraq, there are still 50,000 U.S. military personnel and thousands of mercenaries occupying the country and Al Qaeda membership appears to be growing as we continue to build more than a dozen military bases there. We must consider the sources of these wars, the notion of American "exceptionalism," continued corporate empire-building, and their relationship to increasing poverty and deteriorating infrastructure in our own country, not to mention the moral consequences of policies that make us all complicitous in the spread of terrorism and murder. As Geoffrey Hill has written, "The burden the writer's conscience must bear is that the horror might become that hideously outrageous thing, a cliché."

We are closing submissions to the anthology for the present. It will remain open for reading. I will continue to seek out and post a variety features and a few links.

Nancy Giebink has been a devoted servant to PAW since Day One—actually since the day before Day One— handling bookkeeping, mail, email, advising, and a hundred minor duties as they appeared. Nancy Flynn has given us years of service as editor of the poetry as it came in. Thousands of poets owe them a deep bow of gratitude. I owe them, along with Sally Anderson, 1x bet promo code Andy Himes and Colin Foden much more for making this venture possible. Thanks to our web manager, Jill Beaumont, for her stellar service.

Sometime early next year, we will decide whether it’s feasible to find new volunteers and perhaps enlist a couple of poet-bloggers, feature editors and a site manager and re-invent Poets Against War as a Web publication. Or even whether it’s warranted.

Nearly eight years and more than a hundred thousand needless deaths ago, I asked my fellow poets to "speak for the conscience of our country" in opposition to a slaughter. Today, we continue to read of secret prisons and torture regimes, the bombing of civilians from unmanned planes. We know that two-thirds of Iraqi war casualties were "civilian." Human life is trifling, expendable, "an unfortunate consequence." The rich have grown infinitely richer; the poor, poorer. Our schools continue to decline and our country’s infrastructure is crumbling. We have fewer civil liberties and less hope for the future. We poets can provide a vision for hope if we are careful with our language and firm in our resolution. Meanwhile we all pay a terrible price: the war debt comes home in many ways. And the "conscience of our country" remains 1xbet deposit bonus as elusive as ever in the eyes of the world.

—Sam Hamill

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
—Martin Luther King Beyond Vietnam

Behzad Zarrinpour, Iranian Poet

Periodically devastated and extensively ravaged during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) Khorramshar, the much written about city is where the acclaimed Iranian poet, Bechzad Zarrinpoor was born in 1969. A versatile being, Zarrinpoor has the experience of a high school teacher, a journalist and a publisher. He is the founding member of many Iranian newspapers including, “The Abrar Economy”, “Woman”(Zan), “Asia” and “Money”(Pool). He received the Golden Pen Award as the “Poet of the Year” at the Gardoon Poetry Festival for his collection of poems “May the Sun Shine from Four Directions” (1996). As its founder, Zarrinpoor is currently the editor in chief of “Economy and Life” monthly and also the founder and director of “Aknoon” publishing house in Tehran.

A Little Later

We don’t just sleep under one roof

Otherwise this place is no different from the barracks

We go to sleep with our shoes and tight belts

at the cock’s crow

we rush to the fields with all the equipments

and all day we practice arraying our lines before an enemy

who changes places with us every moment:


-A bus that passes far off your expectation

cluttered and content tickets

and a driver who shuts all the doors on you

A little later:

Redundant stops

Pointless waiting

and a crowd that doesn’t let the lights become green


And we keep shifting places in this way

until the day ends

then we touch the wall and return

The one who reaches home before all

only gets to wind his clock sooner than the others

Behzad Zarrinpoor

Translation: Maryam Ala Amjadi

Click here to read More of Behzad's poetry and the reactions and reflections by two Iranian poets, Khatereh Hejazi and Behzad Zarrinpoor to the questions posed by Translator Maryam Ala Amjadi about peace, conflict and poetry.

Rira Abbasi - Iranian Peace Activist

Rira AbbasiIranian poet, fiction writer and peace activist, Rira Abbasi was born in 1962 in Khorramabad, Iran. Acclaimed as Iran’s Lady Poet Laureate and the winner of Parvin Etesami Poetry Award in 2005, Rira is also a member of Iran’s Writers Association and the founder and director of the biennial International Peace Poetry festival since 2007. Black Fairy of Wednesday (2000), No More Guns for this Lor Woman (2001) and the bold collection of love poems Who Loves You More Discreetly? (2002) are among her works. Rira has edited and brought out the first collection of Iranian Peace Poetry (an anthology) in 2002. In 2008, she founded the Rira’s Blue House, an establishment in line with the International Peace Poetry Festival. A brainchild of Rira Abbasi and supported solely by individual donations and sponsorship of non-governmental organizations, the charter of the Peace Poetry Festival states that “Poetry for peace is affiliated to humanity, regardless of race, religion, sex and geography”.

Click to read her poem "Oil Ailment".


Dennis Brutus 1924-2009 R.I.P.

Dennis Vincent Brutus, poet and renowned human rights activist, died in Cape Town, South Africa, on 26 December 2009. Born November 28, 1924, his lifetime in the service of human rights is non pareil, from his long struggle against apartheid—-for which he was imprisoned-- to his final days of struggle on behalf of increasing awareness of global warming. He was a model and inspiration for what an engaged poet can accomplish. For his work on behalf of integrating sports, including the Olympics, he would have been inducted into the South African Sports Hall of Fame, but he refused to be honored by an organization that honored bigots in the past.

For a fuller obituary, see the Independent (London), the NY Times, or Democracy Now.

Martin Espada’s poem, written several years ago, seems especially fitting as a eulogy:



Martín Espada

Stone Hammered to Gravel
             For poet Dennis Brutus, at eighty

The office workers did not know, plodding through 1963
a nd Marshall Square station in Johannesburg,
that you would dart down the street between them, thinking the police would never fire into the crowd. Sargeant Kleingeld did not know, as you escaped
his fumbling hands and the pistol on his hip,
that he would one day be a footnote in the book of your life.

Read the rest of the poem

Short History of Poets Against War

In late January 2003, in response to an invitation to a symposium by Laura Bush to celebrate "Poetry and the American Voice," Sam Hamill declined; a longtime pacifist, he could not in good faith visit the White House following the recent news of George W. Bush's plan for a unilateral "Shock and Awe" attack on Iraq. Instead, he asked about 50 fellow poets to "reconstitute a Poets Against the War movement like the one organized to speak out against the war in Vietnam...to speak up for the conscience of our country and lend your names to our petition against this war” by submitting poems of protest that he would send to the White House. When 1,500 poets responded within four days, this web site was created as a means of handling the enormous, unexpected response.

Since then, the "accidental groundswell" grew to include poets from around the world. There are presently more than 20,000 poems in this, the largest poetry anthology ever published. Poems from Poets Against War have been presented in person, by invitation, to several representatives of the U.S. Congress; many of them have since been introduced into the Congressional Record.

current events

Autumn 2010

The Anti-Empire Report

Some thoughts on "patriotism" written on July 4 Most important thought: I'm sick and tired of this thing called "patriotism".


In Memoriam: Ai (1947 - 2010)

Ai was a poet like no other. When she burst onto the literary stage forty years ago, her poems were shocking in their intensity and austerity. She was absolutely fearless and sometimes almost brutal in her evocation of a dark world made brighter by her courageous testimony. She died of breast cancer March 20 in a Stillwater, Oklahoma hospital. Her body of work is a legacy for which we should all be grateful.

A Deep Breath of Fresh Air: Morris Berman's Blog

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