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

homepoemsnewsletterpoetry mattersdonatearchivescontact us

An Open Letter from Sam Hamill
New Years Day, 2005

Dear Friends:

The war drags on. Fallujah has been destroyed in order to save it, shades of Vietnam. A man who presented the argument in favor of ignoring the Geneva accords, a man who would authorize torture, is now our Attorney General. More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead, many times more wounded, homeless… And American soldiers who have served their tours of duty are being post facto drafted to remain in combat.

We can look forward to Bush’s new secretary of state continuing to… who knows what? And there will be supreme and other high court appointments, and of course a Patriot Act II, with attendant incursions into our constitutional rights. Tax cuts for the rich? Permanent. The environment? The worst policies in our history. What a ghastly litany.

Four more years, indeed.

A number of organizations are encouraging January 20 demonstrations and teach-ins and contra-Bush celebrations around the world. I hope you will all join me in joining them.

Check out www.turnyourbackonbush.com and please post any events scheduled for that day. The more we can reach out and work with other organizations, the broader the audience for poetry and the broader our message of peace.

We’d like to post a list of host organizations working in cooperation with Poets Against the War to make that day memorable.

As of January 1st, I will leave Copper Canyon Press. Over the coming months, I will devote a lot more time to working with PAW board members to build a sound infrastructure and strengthen our organization.

Like kindred organizations in countries around the world, we have reminded millions of people of the noble traditions of poetry, of its role in every culture. I have seen time and again tears of gratitude in the eyes of the Italians, French, Lithuanians, etc, and have received innumerable messages of hope, support and kinship from all over the world. These people are grateful to be reminded that (at least) half of the U.S. objects to the direction this country’s taken, and that we are eager to listen to and work cooperatively with them so that all of our voices (and various positions) may be heard while we stand together.

In the ecology of the soul, thrift is ruinous. We look forward to a productive new year filled with mindful actions, generosity of spirit, heartfelt compassion, and of course a lot of good poetry.

This winter solstice I will close with a handful of poems by Soufie, who is 12 years old and lives in Tehran and likes haiku and wants to learn Japanese and live in Japan. The translations are by the Iranian editor Ali Samavati (with a little help from me).


Sam Hamill

Soufie’s poems (no titles):

How poor are the children!
All the time,
they have to learn
they have to be careful not to be blamed
and they have to fear God’s punishment
Even on Fridays when nobody works
children have to work
they have so much to do
that they don’t realize
when they are dreaming
or when they are awake

Lucky are the trees
who have nothing to do
but to turn yellow and green

At night, they are not afraid of the dark
They don’t die like grandfathers
and they have many good friends
like the wind, rain and sunshine

And a friend like the dew
who always puts its head
on the shoulder of their leaves.

Sometimes I get a chocolate
and sometimes I get a beating
and I never know
when I’m asleep or awake

But now I’m very depressed
And I wish I were like angels
or I didn’t exist at all
then I wouldn’t always need to say "Hello."


I wish we would never lose each other
but could be lost in one another.


In children’s eyes
a park is nothing but a green lawn.

In old men’s eyes
a park is nothing but a few yellow benches.

Children should run in the parks
so the trees would not see the canes
and leaves
would not fall from their eyes.


God, with all his light,
walks in the darkness!

On the trail of his shoes,
trees grow.

And on the trail of his thoughts,
autumn appears.


On the streets
You see eyes with clouds inside
of wrinkled faces

And the faces of the mournful
are full of heavenly tears.

And those black, heartless clothes
that have nothing to do with poems.


A Short History of PAW

Press Archive
Links to News Articles About PAW

Open Letters From Sam Hamill
Jan 1, 2005
Sept 11, 2004
June 20, 2004
Jan 1, 2004
July 4, 2003

Reports from the Streets
March 5th, Day of Poetry
Poems Presented to Canadian PM
October 25th Report
NPT Meeting Report