Poets Against War-Winter Newsletter 2006


In this issue:

William O'Daly: A Winter Sun: Writing Against Torture
Part I: The State of Torture
Part II: Speaking Freely: Poetry, Torture, and Truth
Fady Joudah: The Name of the Place
Gary Lawless: In Memoriam, Nadia Anjuman
Majid Naficy: My Poem has the Scent of Nadia
Sam Hamill Director of Poets Against War

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Op-Ed By Sam Hamill
Director of Poets Against War

In what country am I living? Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Our guy's lighting matches. Does anyone give a damn about gulags or torture or massive eavesdropping on such “threats” as the Quakers or students for nonviolence? Does anyone object to the shredding of our Constitution? Does anyone find “the war on terror” to be a declaration of perpetual war and a march into fascism, and does anyone find that idea appalling? Does anyone object to energy policies written by energy companies that turn record-breaking profits while the citizenry shells out hundreds of billions of dollars for an immoral war and billions more in the wake of Katrina? War profiteers make war. But the blood stains each of us on every side. Read on.


My poem has the scent of Nadia
In memory of Nadia Anjuman

Majid Naficy

When I light the oven early morning
My bread looks like Dari poetry
I find its starter in my dreams
And I knead it between sleep and waking.
My wheat comes from the land of Toos
Where Ferdowsi spread its seeds,
And my poppy seeds from the valley of Yamgan
Where Naser Khosrow planted their roots,
And my oven pebbles from the banks of Amoo River
Where Roodaki called them soft as silk,
And my firewood from the grove of Balkh reeds
Where Rumi kept the fire of his love.

But when I take it out of the oven
It looks like a Sangak bread
Shaped as a Woman in her chadour,
Shouting voicelessly: "It's me,
The poet of 'Dark Flower,'
Ravaged by my step-husband in Herat."

Read the complete poem


A Winter Sun: Writing Against Torture


Part 1: The State of Torture
William O'Daly

Last summer a friend and his family visited Ground Zero in New York City. He has since
confided to me his belief that only those who have physically gazed into that gaping, tangled wound can grasp its dimensions, its depth and its breadth, the insidious nature of its impact on the psyche of our country. Beset by a mixture of sorrow and awe, my friend has struggled with the inexpressible weight of all the innocent dead. He, like most Americans, has tried to fathom the hatred and deranged ambition that impelled 19 people to give their own lives so as to take almost 3,000 others. Are there any other incidents in U.S. history that have left Americans clutching at their vulnerability, at the possibility of dying without warning, while commuting to work or shopping at the mall, as completely as the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Read on


The Name of the Place
Fady Joudah


What is it called when you drive a camel, not a donkey; if you fly a horse into atrocity, then have a two-animal garage? Isn't it a remarkable entrepreneurial feat to massacre a people, as a form of terror, or ablution, and then turn them into willing, choiceless customers?
Read the complete article



In Memoriam, Nadja Anjuman
Gary Lawless

Nadia Anjuman, born in 1980, was a poet and journalist who risked imprisonment, torture or death to study literature and write poetry in Afganistan during the reign of the Taliban She was one of a group of women known as the Sewing Circles of Herat, women who risked their lives to study and create during the Taliban era, gathering under the guise of sewing lessons at the Golden Needle Sewing School, where they were taught literature by a professor from the local university. This remarkable group of women has been chronicled in Christina Lamb's book The Sewing Circles of Herat, and Christina Lamb has written a piece for the Times of London called "woman poet slain for her verse". Read more.

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