Poets Against War-Summer Newsletter 2006

In this issue:

Breyten Breytenbach: "Imaging Africa"
Prabal Kumar Basu: "Bengali Poetry"

Sam Hamill: Director's Report

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by Breyten Breytenbach
Potsdam , July 2005.

1. In this month of July, 2005, two images haunt me. They are not related and perhaps they only gesture indirectly towards issues looming large in the contemporary world we inhabit - barbarism, terrorism, imperialism, impoverishment, plagues, the absence of ethical codes and a hierarchy of values, mad materialism, intellectual and artistic narcissism... Yet, both of these images illustrate to me the raw faultline where 'private' and 'public' meet.

The first is that of the so-called 'Piano Man'. On the stormy night of April 7 a young white male is found wandering the streets along the beach of Sheerness in Kent. His elegant dark suit is soaked, all name-tags have been carefully removed, he has no papers. Apparently he has also lost his memory and, with that, his identity. If you forget how others saw you, you no longer exist. The man is taken to the Medway Maritime Hospital. The National Center for Disappeared Persons is alerted. Nobody comes forward to claim him. Over the next weeks there will be thousands of reactions, speculations, theories and false identifications aired over the Internet, all to no avail (the web is a vast echo chamber for the deluded and the conspiratorial), and then interest will subside. The man is traumatized by fear: when some-one enters the room where he is kept he cowers in a corner. After a few days he draws a concert piano on a sheet of paper. He is taken to a grand piano, sits down and starts playing exquisitely for hours on end. Only while playing does he relax. The blonde young alien with the melancholic and fearful eyes responds to no question, seems not to know any language, draws or writes nothing else, but composes music; he is obviously an accomplished concert pianist and has to be torn away from the instrument. He clutches the folder with his compositions to his chest.  Read the complete article.


Op-Ed By Sam Hamill
Director of Poets Against War

If you have not already done so, I hope you will join the board of directors and members of Poets Against War in visiting the VotersForPeace.us web page and signing the pledge not to support any candidate who supports wars of aggression. We can send an important message to the Democratic Party by signing the pledge, and we must remember that the Democratic Party is the party of Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton. It is also the party of Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott, John Conyers, Maxine Waters, and Marcy Kaptur and other friends in the House and Senate who welcomed and supported us in our outcry before the war. Many of them entered our poems into the Congressional Record. It is possible to make the Democratic Party more responsive to our needs and demands.   More PAW News

Bengali Poetry Since Independence

by Prabal Kumar Basu

The later half of the twentieth century is significant for several reasons. The first half of the century felt the impact of the Russian revolution, spread of communism, the spectacular advances in science and technology in producing powerful weapons of destruction and offering at the same time fresh avenues of creation. The paradigm shifted from one's inner psyche to the material world .The urge for introspection and self- evaluation clashed with the developmental forces. This had a deep impact on the sensibility and ethics of humanity. The centre of power gradually shifted towards economics. Politics came to prefer democracy to monarchy or dictatorship. The second half of the last century bore the brunt of it.   Read the whole story.

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