This year, the last Saturday of September, the regular day for the Global 100,000 Poets for Change Events around the world, falls on Yom Kippur, considered the Holiest day of the Jewish religion. Observant Jews around the world are fasting, having spent the Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur asking the people in their lives for forgiveness and inventorying their transgressions against Creation. Today, we Jews go to synagogue and ask Creation (G-d) for forgiveness. Another name for Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.
First, the order matters: We ask the people in our lives for forgiveness. Then we think how we have acted against the World. Then and only then do we turn to G-d for forgiveness.
Second, saying sorry is not enough, in our tradition. It is a start. In the Jewish tradition, people must also act differently, that is, they must enact the apology with a change in how they are in the world.
Third, human purpose can be understood—in how I have been taught—as working toward Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is the repair or healing of Creation. While there is definitely a range of interpretations that could be made on what this healing entails, it certainly incorporates attention to the physical world as well as the spiritual. These two intertwine and interrelate in such a way as to be inseparable. Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace—and writing, the arts, music in service of activism for positive change—are very relevant issues to our human purpose, from this view.
And thus, on the Holiest Day of the Jewish Year, it is appropriate to work toward Tikkun Olam, asking G-d’s forgiveness for all we have done that harms our fellow humans, inventorying our own role, and moving forward with action that shows our genuine desire to change and make things right again.
And, further, as the spiritual and the physical are interrelated, so are all of the arts (literature, art, music, dance, stage, film…), so are all three of the themes: Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace.
So this year, on Yom Kippur, we ask you to join in with your contributions from any of the arts—share your efforts toward healing and repair of our World. As you do, remember this, paraphrased from the sages:
Do not despair at the iniquity and injustice of the world in which we live. For today, that is, in this period where injustice, racism, and greed seem to have risen to power, do not give up or give in.
It is not up to us to complete the work of Tikkun Olam, but this does not free us from working toward the healing and repair of Creation. That is, although we may not achieve our goals of a just, sustainable and peaceful world in our lifetime, we must continue to make progress, and in working toward them, the healing of Creation will occur, one poem, one essay, one novel, one painting, one sculpture, one song, one symphony, one performance at at a time…
By action, not words alone, will this be done. If ever there was a time when this action is more needed than others, certainly now is one—Resistance! Activism! Peace! Sustainability! Social Justice!
Instructions for how to participate follow below.
—Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor
Thanks to Jamie Dedes for getting our virtual 100TPC underway. Travel issues left me in the lurch. My apologies. May this introduction partially atone for my tardiness in getting the event going! Instruction on how to participate in today’s event are included below:
“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a [woman or] man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy South Africa, 1966
Today under the banner of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) people the world over are gathered to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE.
Here is a sampling of the posters announcing these gatherings.They give you a small idea of how far-reaching this annual global event is and for which we have the work and vision of 100TPC cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion to thank.
Think on this when you are tempted to lose all hope for our species. Remember that—not just today, but everyday—there are ripples and waves and tsunamis of faith and courage crossing borders in the form of poetry, stories, art, music, friendships and other acts of heroism. Hang tough. And do join with us—The Bardo Group Beguines—today to share your own creative work and to enjoy the work of others. All are welcome no matter where in the world you live.
Meanwhile our 100TPC host, Michael Dickel, was caught somewhere between Israel and the American Midwest, so we got off to a late start. Michael will be around during the day today. He did especially want you to have the link to the 100TPC Resist Wall, where you can post activist and resistance poetry today or any day.
POST YOUR WORK HERE TODAY
To share your poems, art, photography and music videos for our “live” virtual 100TPC today, please use MisterLinky for url links. Just click on the icon below. You can also simply paste your complete work or the url into the comments section. Remember the themes are peace, sustainability and social justice.
To read shared work see the comments section and click on Mister Linky. Enjoy!
On behalf of Michael and the rest of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,
It was September in 1998 when I last visited this text, but I began writing it in 1988—an unlikely time for warm humid air in Minneapolis where I lived. Still, brought up by storm, bereft of beaches, warm ocean-born air covered me in that north-central city, the nearest seacoast thousands of miles away; I could smell that salt breeze left over from and carried here by hurricane Gilbert and his aftermath.And this is what I wrote in 1988 and revised (somewhat) 1998. Now, in 2016, I pulled it out, dusted it off, made some additional revisions and edits (including cutting about 15 pages out at the end) for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I read the version of the following at Verses Against Violence 3, organized by Rachel Stomel in Jerusalem, on 24 November, 2016. I have made some edits to the version I read and added a bit more, to more clearly state my position at the end. Both the edits and what I added arose from the discussion after the reading in November.
When you read this, the bombs may be falling still, or falling again; or a temporary lull may have been ordered, or a ceasefire may be in effect. This peace-around the corner, while children, invalids, and old people are blown into mass graves, has been the latest, most visible testimony to the power now handled by a few men—which begins to seem like the power of nature, to bring famine, plague, or cyclone and take it away again at will.
“The bombings, for example, if they have anything to teach us, must be understood in the light of something closer to home, both more private and painful, and more general and endemic, than institutions, class, racial oppression, the hubris of the Pentagon, or the ruthlessness of a right-wing administration: the bombings are so wholly sadistic, gratuitous and demonic that they can finally be seen, if we care to see them, for what they are: acts of concrete sexual violence, an expression of the congruence of violence and sex in the masculine psyche.”
—Adrienne Rich, “Vietnam and Sexual Violence,” a column for APR, first published in 1973
“…it’s time for men to start having programs about rape. It won’t stop until men learn that the victims aren’t responsible.”
—Irene Greene, director of the U of Minnesota Sexual Violence Program
in an interview with Doug Grow.]
The Warm Blanket of Silence
It is a comforting warm atmosphere, and that it should bear with it the responsibility for the death of hundreds and the devastation of fragile third world economies, responsibility for the spawning of floods and tornadoes, dumfounds me at this distance. The air around me is a comfortable blanket, secure and cozy, cuddling me into gentle submission, into ignoring the terrible violence that spawned it, that delivered it to my doorstep along with the bananas and the coffee and the economic well-being that are part of my privileged existence. How do I set my comfort aside and grapple with the need for others’ relief, for a fair-weather change? So easy to retreat, to retreat to the warm blanket, to snuggle against the supposed truth: I am not the perpetrator of those violent deeds. For I am not a violent man, myself.
So it is with the storm, the raging blast of destruction and domination that is U.S. foreign policy, especially in the what we once called the “Third World,” now (in 2016) also the Middle East. That storm accounts for the cozy climate of the privileged in the U.S. (and I own that I was, while living there, and still am, as an ex-pat, one of those privileged). Thousands of deaths, devastation of economies, the spawning of the floods of war and the tornadoes of insurrection and destabilization all account for the stolen ocean breezes. And if I feel as helpless against the hurricane of foreign policy as I do against Gilbert, that same comfortable blanket beckons me: I am not the perpetrator of these violent deeds. For I myself am not a violent man.
If not perpetrator, then collaborator, if not in the destruction wrought by the storm, then in the destructive forces let loose when men beat women, when parents beat children, when men beat other men, when men rape women, when men use violence, oppression and sexual power to coerce those around them into submission. And if it seems that I have leapt hugely into an abyss from foreign policy to domestic, personal, and sexual violence (are these different?), then it is because I am looking for the beginnings of our national imperialism in the place it seems to me things begin: at home. If acts of violence in foreign affairs are not acts of sexual violence, as Adrienne Rich suggests they are, and I by no means believe that they are not, then the same indifference and silence towards the raping, beating, and emotional violence that plagues our own sisters, mothers, lovers, colleagues, brothers, and ourselves allows for our silence and indifference about how our nation conducts its foreign affairs. We may not perpetrate the violence, but we collaborate with it when we remain silent: Even if we are not, ourselves, violent men.
Collaborate? With silence. Silence is collaboration, the great hushed whisper that approves by not calling out, by not naming the violence of person against person, by looking the other way. Too long men have ignored the violence, or viewed it as the victim’s problem, or, when forced to acknowledge the truth, tried to suppress the violence in patriarchal fashion with laws, jails, and punishments (more often than not punishment for other suppressed members of society more than for those in power), rather than treating the roots, looking to the core of the matter.
“Such inhumanity will not cease, I believe, until men, in groups of men, say “no more.” Until the Jaycees, Rotary, American Legion, male sports groups, and the like begin to discuss rape in their meetings and begin to give a loud prohibition to sexual abuse of women rape will not stop.”
quoting himself from a letter to the editor
of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, December 30, 1983.
Part of the problem is that many men do not see wife and child beating as a men’s issue. Here I generalize, for some activist men indeed do (singer, songwriter, activist Geoff Morgan, for instance, or witness quotes above), and no sweeping statements should be made about men, women, or any group of people. Traditionally, however, men do not seem to have dealt with this issue except as an issue of the victim—a woman’s or child’s issue, or if a men’s issue, a men’s issue based on their own victimization, as in child abuse. Rarely have men confronted the issue as an issue of their own suppression of others, or of their own fears or inability to be whole. An issue of their own rage and explosiveness. We often ignore the fact that we can be violent men.
I know I have viewed this as a “women’s issue,” I know my friends have, I know that some of the concerned men I met with in Minneapolis have all ignored men’s responsibility, to greater and lesser extent, while wanting to acknowledge our “sensitivity.” In failing to acknowledge our potential for violence, we continue the oppression. It is when we deny our own anger, often at ourselves or other men, that we become most likely to blow up with rage at others, also.
But, I am not a violent man. And I do not beat or rape women. Why should I consider this my problem?
Because men are the most common perpetrators of this violence, and men ought to consider solutions that will stop other men from violating other human beings. (I speak hear of male abusers because I wish to arouse men to action to stop sanctioning this abuse with our silence—what I say may apply to women abusers as well.)
We should stop being silent and start taking responsibility, stop saying that this only effects the victims and recognize the effects throughout society and culture, stop subscribing to the patriarchal code of silence that allows the male, even requires the male, to dominate and control those around him, and start working with each other to end family and personal violence. If we want accusations like Rich’s to be untrue, (that violence and sexuality are one for men), we have to speak out and say that it is untrue for us and unacceptable in those around us. We have to act according to these words. We must disentangle them in our own psyches and lives and acts. We must, as men, face our own violence, turn our own sexuality from oppression to eroticism (not to be mistaken for pornography) and spirituality (not to be mistaken for patriarchal indoctrination), from desire for self-gratification to tenderness for the Other.
(skipping about 15 pages to coda at end of original essay)
The first step for any change in attitudes we have and perpetuate about gender, sexuality, and violence begins in the mirror. I must face up to my own capacity for abuse, my own tendency to authoritarianism: my own reluctance to feel, to trust, to be vulnerable, to love (and be loved). I must face myself in my worst aspect to create my best. If this has been, up to now, a social commentary and proposal, it is now a call to all men, and to myself, to begin the act of change within each of us. I ask no one to give up manhood. On the contrary, I ask each man reading this to embrace his own manhood, and to recognise that this manhood is not the violent, competitive, truncated beast that is so often reflected in our culture and our self-images.
I am not a storm, unleashed by nature, not a furious distemper whipping and whirling through the world. I am not corrosion, destruction, death and war. I am not powerless in the face of my actions, hopeless or helpless. Although I could be all of those things. I am not Hurricane Gilbert run amuck, nor Gilbert merely placated, worn down by feminism, politics, my mother, my lover, or my therapist. I am a man choosing to change that which I can. I have missed opportunities in the past, and these missed opportunities are scars that run deep into my psyche: I watched one man die violently where I might have made a difference had I not been silent. I experienced the sudden death of my father with an incomplete relationship because the silence between us—despite all of our words—had grown too big, was broached too late. I have attacked myself, despised myself at times, and lashed out at others.
I may be hunter, and warrior, which means I have the capacity for destructive and abusive violence, and also the capacity for sustaining power and strength. I am also lover and parent, which some may take to mean that I could control and possess a (male or female) vessel in an attempt to fill my needs, but for me means that I can form a tender, erotic, spiritual, and emotional alliance which truly satisfies. I am human, which means I have the power to repress and deny the reality of my emotions, and also that I have the power to experience, survive, and grow in the world by knowing my deepest feelings. I am parent, which means that I can continue the cycle of destruction and violence that I have inherited, and also that I can be open to growth and change. I live in the world, which means that I can strive for dominion, and also that I can strive to form a spiritual community not only with my fellow humans (male and female), but with nature itself. Change begins at home, the choices are mine.
If I do not wish to suffocate under a warm blanket of storm blown silence, I will have to own the destruction that the silence protects. If I own the destruction, I take responsibility for the violence, and then I can change. If I change, I empower myself. I can complete myself. I can choose life, spirit, love, nature. I am not, by inheritance from my father or otherwise, beast; but human being by inheritance of my mother and my father, together. And I will try to be.
“While I have yearned for leadership from persons and groups more influential than I, I also know that the burden of responsibility lies on my shoulders. Consciousness-raising doesn’t cut it! It is time to talk with my sons, brothers, and male friends and yours also. Will you join me in speaking to your male acquaintances? Can we make a difference? I think so! Let’s do it!”
Ted Bowman 1988
(This is as far as the reading went.)
I have brought this essay back for what I imagine are, to the readers of The BeZine, obvious reasons—an unrepentant “pussy-grabber” has been elected to the office of President of the United States. As a man, I renew my decades-long commitment to stand against such violence and abuse, to resist the “locker-room” excuses and all violence, but most certainly violence against women and children. One thing I take heart in, though, is that what I have witnessed at the Verses against Violence reading this year and in the past—people speaking out, women (mostly) and men resisting the violence embedded in our society and breaking silence. The outcry about the orange-man’s grabbing statement, while it did not stop him being elected, was loud and clear. In 1988, I suspect his comments would not have been a subject in the media. I suspect, but who can know for sure, that the media of that time would have shrugged their shoulders and themselves said, “locker-room talk.” In 1998… possibly not much better. Things are not where they should be, they are not where I want them to be, but at least there was a shout of “NO!”
So, let’s shake the blanket of silence off of our shoulders. Let’s do what we must, do what we can. Let’s not accept in complacency what this presidency likely will bring.
—Michael Dickel (Meta/Phor(e)/Play)
As we prepare for the October issue of “The BeZine,” here is John Anstie on the theme for the month – “Music”
” Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast “
~ Playwright and Poet, William Congreve (1670-1729), in his 1697 play, ‘The Mourning Bride’.
A letter from John:
In asking for submissions of writing, poetry, art and even music itself for the Music themed October issue of The BeZine, I am conscious that the very subject of music leaves us with a huge scope. But if I am to offer any guidelines as to what you could think about in submitting work, it might be as follows.
My personal perspective on the value of poetry has some relevance here. It is a belief that poetry should always be one step removed from the obvious, the logical and rational, in order for it to awaken the right brain, the creative side of our amazing abilities as humans; to stimulate the visceral (as opposed to the purely intellectual, rational…
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We invite you to share your most passionate works expressing kindness and human connection and the ways that together we might heal the degradation and devastation of wars and genocides; the heartbreak of refugees living in limbo; the desolation of hunger and famine and environmental catastrophes; the insanity of extrajudicial murders; and the disappointing growth in the West of racial and religious tensions and efforts by various administrations to chill dissent.
Please take this opportunity to join hands and hearts in peace and love: TEAM WITH US for The BeZine 100TPC online “live” event this September 30th (our 6th year) to address peace, sustainability, and social justice through poetry, music (videos), art and anything artistic that can be posted online and accessed through a url link or by responding in the comments section of the event post. The BeZine 100TPC is one of hundreds of events that will be held around the world on September 30 under the rubric of Global 100TPC founded by poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion.
WE ACKNOWLEDGE that there are enormous theological differences and historical resentments that carve wedges among and within the traditions and ethnic or national groups, but we believe that ultimately self-preservation, common sense, and human solidarity will empower connections and collaboration and overcome division and disorder.
100TPC is just one effort that illustrates the higher possibilities of the human heart.
Let us ply our art, meditations, and prayer toward that tipping point when compromise – an admittedly imperfect peace – will overcome war and respect for life will topple resentments and greed. That may not happen in our time, but it has to start somewhere and sometime. Together let this be our modest contribution toward an end for which diverse people the world over are working and praying.
HOW THE BeZINE “VIRTUAL” 100TPC WORKS … It’s easy and will be intuitively obvious, though we will provide instruction. A blog post will go up at The BeZine blog on September 30 with some introductory material and directions. As with any other blog post, you can respond by putting your poem or other work in the comments section. There will also be “Mister Linky” … a way to put in a link to relevant work on your site. It’s easy to use but if you don’t like it, you can just put your link in the comments section. That works!
American-Israeli poet,Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phore(e)/ Play), is an extraordinary – and at this point very experienced – Master of Ceremonies. He’ll maintain a rolling commentary in the comments section. I’ll be online to fill in for Michael when he takes a break and also to extend the length of the event.We’re in different time zones, though this year not half-a-day apart since he will be in the States. The idea is convenience and inclusively.
All types of artists and friends can participate no matter where they live in the world even if there is no event going on in their neighborhood and even if like me they are pretty much or completely home bound (which was the inspiration for the virtual event). You can participate in our virtual event even if you are at an off-line event. You can do both. We hope that you will not only share your artistry but also enjoy the artistry of others, which is what makes it like a live event. See you then … 🙂 We also hope that you’ll visit The BeZine to read our September edition, a prequel to the 100TPC event.
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines (publishers of The BeZine) and in the spirit of love (respect) and community,
Founding and Managing Editor
September 15, 2017
Reflecting on anger
a sort of Introduction
I am trying to write a social justice-sustainability-peace song. This is as far as I have gotten.
Where have all the flowers gone, since the election?
Where has the dialogue gone, now that we yell and scream?
You may say it’s social media, typing, and not raised voices,
But you know we’re all making some dissonant choices.
This divisiveness, it’s like some sort of infection,
All the medicine won’t do any good, not pill or cream,
You may say it’s someone else, spreading these angry voices,
But you know we’re all making these dissonant choices.
Take care of others now, it’s time to give a helping hand,
Find the empathy in your heart, spread it through the land,
Stand up for justice, peace, sustainability, while you can,
Find the common ground where all of us can stand…
I am searching for interconnections and intersectionality between social justice, sustainability, and peace—how each affects the other. I don’t want to focus on the negative, but I do feel a need to say something that would get at the role of divisiveness and hate in our current anxieties and politics—not just in the November 2016 elections, not just between the camps, not just within the left. It is everywhere, infused with out morning hot drink.
We must reach out our hands to each other. Yes, we can and should express our differences, speak our anger, listen to the anger of others. However, we cannot afford to weaponize that anger, to externalize it into missiles and nuclear warheads. Don’t let anger shoot, stab, run us over in an un-civil war of accusations and blame that wounds our souls. We cannot let this roiling rage keep us from joining together in common cause, which we all have—the need for peace, social justice, and environmentally-sustainable practices. We must use our real angers, somehow, as building tools, to join together to create more humane, just, sustainable, and peaceful structures in our world. We must harness the anger to make love, not war.
Even so, it will be an imperfect world.
But, if we find a way to work together, through our differences, it will be a better world, too.
Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives.
I have seen situations where white women hear a racist remark, resent what has been said, become filled with fury, and remain silent because they are afraid. That unexpressed anger lies within them like an undetonated device, usually to be hurled at the first woman of Color who talks about racism.
But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification, for it is in the painful process of this translation that we identify who are our allies with whom we have grave differences, and who are our genuine enemies.
Anger is loaded with information and energy. When I speak of women of Color, I do not only mean Black women. The woman of Color who is not Black and who charges me with rendering her invisible by assuming that her struggles with racism are identical with my own has something to tell me that I had better learn from, lest we both waste ourselves fighting the truths between us. If I participate, knowingly or otherwise, in my sister’s oppression and she calls me on it, to answer her anger with my own only blankets the substance of our exchange with reaction. It wastes energy. And yes, it is very difficult to stand still and to listen to another woman’s voice delineate an agony I do not share, or one to which I myself have contributed.
Why has this passage come to mind? Besides the fact that it remains relevant about privilege, more than 35 years later, it also speaks to the in-fighting among people who want to change the world positively, who have shared goals in making change—activists, if you will. The need to share our “grave differences,” but at the same time to work together as allies to resist—and overcome—”our genuine enemies.”
It seems to me that these are some of the tools and forces of our genuine enemies: greed, oppression, racism, ethnocentricity, genders-based bias, unfettered capitalism, and fascism. Also: war, famine, and destruction of resources. Also: hatred, division, rage. Also…
Right now, my Facebook feed streams with angry posts between Clinton and Sanders supporters and third camp—fourth, fifth, sixth… camps—who attack both and each other, all arguing an election nearly a year old and few looking for ways to work together for the mid-term elections a little over a year away. People argue about the best way to resist, all the while they criticize and attack each other for not approaching a particular issue in the “correct” way.
What I don’t feel is a constructive analysis and dialogue emerging from this divisiveness. I don’t feel that the anger focuses on the genuine enemies. Instead, the angry posts shred our (potential) allies against those who would divide us on the way to grinding us up. At times, my paranoia rings its tocsin, suggesting that those who oppose positive, life-and-humanity affirming change—my genuine enemies—foment the pitched battles (especially those in social media). I feel that too many of us (yes, I would include myself) think we “understand” the problems we face, and that others “don’t get it.” We want to be correct. My way or the highway.
That path only leads to traffic jams.
Lorde tells us, “Anger is loaded with information and energy.” Are we listening? I often bristle and respond with anger—I fire off a few well-aimed zingers, a few capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Or else, I turn away and don’t listen. I miss the opportunity to learn from the information in the anger.
I fight against the energy in the anger, draining us both, as I argue my point of righteousness. I don’t take in the energy in the “anger expressed” to help energize our (potential) alliance. I don’t look for ways to translate it “into action in the service of our vision and our future.”
Thus, by not listening and firing my “defensive” missiles, I miss opportunities for “a liberating and strengthening act of clarification.”
This is critical when listening across the social, racial, economic, regional, generational, religious, gendered, and so many other divides of the world. It is as critical when listening to the anger that appears ready to pull apart groups of people who want to make a positive difference. When we are torn apart from each other. Divided, we will fall.
Yet, to stand together, we will have to listen to each other, to engage in learning from each other, and to find ways to translate our anger, our pain, our fear for the future into “… the painful process” of this translation, so that we identify who are “our allies with whom we have grave differences,” and who are “our genuine enemies.”
A storm hammers my brain—this tide of attacks without engaged dialogue hammers my brain—my brain hammers against the ways in which I fail to do all of the many right things that need doing. And in my frustration, I forget to try to do just some of those many right things as well as I can—even if not to the level of an ideal and perfect world.
And here is where I end up, stalled, frustrated, angry. But where I want to end up is caring for humanity with empathy at the intersections of social justice, sustainability, and peace. The writing, music, and photographs in this issue have at their heart, I believe, empathic caring for all of our fellow humans. This caring motivates the work you will find ahead. Yes, you will feel anger. Yes, you will hear anguish. But all of it comes from hearts full of a desire to create “liberating and strengthening act[s] of clarification.”
—Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor
100TPC PREQUEL ISSUE: PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE
How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:
Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.
Table of Contents
Honeymoon’s Over, John Anstie
Refugee blues, W. H. Auden
The Hands Off, Paul Brookes
Prisoner, Paul Brookes
The Stricken, Paul Brookes
Three men, Rob Cullen
Measuring the Weight of Clouds, Rob Cullen
I Didn’t Apologize to the Well, Mahmoud Darwish
gods of our making, Jamie Dedes
let us now praise the peace, Jamie Dedes
do not make war, Jamie Dedes
Pigeon dreams, Jamie Dedes
Visions Then and Now / Again, Michael Dickel
Come on up folks, Michael Dickel
High Technology Death, Michael Dickel
the game of war, Iulia Gherghei
Peace in the Desert, Joseph Hesch
genome for survival, Charles W Martin
:: submarine ::, Sonja Benskin Mesher
:: reimagine the world ::, Sonja Benskin Mesher
:: the burning ::, Sonja Benskin Mesher
Building Freedom, Carolyn O’Connell
Another Note in an Endless Melody, Phillip T. Stephens
the places between, Reuben Woolley
virginia’s move, Reuben Woolley
knucklebone excess, Reuben Woolley
Except where otherwise noted,
ALL works in The BeZine ©2017 by the author / creator
Around the World with 100TPC Posters
Some of them are—like ours—straight-forward with a simple and clear message, some are cluttered with messages, and others are true works of art. No matter which, together they demonstrate the strength of this movement, the passion and commitment.
The BeZine 100TPC Virtual Event
The BeZine September issue previews the themes of the 100TPC BeZine online “live” event we will host 30th September, 2017: peace, sustainability, and social justice. We are particularly interested in a positive focus on the need for human connectedness, healthy human interrelations, and caring for our fellow humans as well as ourselves. Sometimes, it takes clarifying anger. More often, this connectedness comes from listening to and learning from the anger and anguish of our fellow humans.
From police killings of unarmed citizens to governments rejecting immigrants and refugees; from racism to anti-Islam and anti-Semitism; from state-sponsored violence to terrorism—the political and social landscape increasingly values some among humanity over others. Any de-valuing of one human devalues all of us.
Given the rise of anti-humanity activism in struggle for “power over”—militarization of police, white supremacism, NAZIism, KKK, and corporate greed, for examples— as part of the “mainstream” U.S. political landscape that culminated with the election of Donald Trump and in the recent violence in Virginia (among other white supremacist terrorist acts), the focus of this year’s 100TPC live event at The BeZine will be why caring for our fellow human beings is the prime desirable human value, and how social justice, sustainability, and peace arise from that caring and contribute to all of humanity.
Come to the event to browse, view, read, and listen; to contribute your own words, art, music, or links; to comment on what others have posted. Instructions will be available here, beginning at 12:01 AM, 30th September (West Coast U.S. Time). Check in throughout the day to see what new has been posted, to post something new yourself.
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Gretchen’s art and a little story of animal neighbors. Enjoy!
Raccoon is a lot of different things to a lot of people. Probably one thing that all would agree is that they ‘get into things.’ They are so curious and resourceful. Years ago I lived in a huge old house in the middle of downtown Mountain View California built in 1906. It was on a big piece of property with a full size barn in back of the house. Located on the large back porch was an enclosed single toilet and a laundry room. There were the resident raccoons and opossums who knew no boundaries and in the middle of the city. My family of raccoons used to periodically raid the bag of dog kibble stored in the laundry room. Then, as it is their habit to clean their food, they would wash the kibble off in the toilet. So resourceful. We coexisted….like I always do with the wild things. My…
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SEPTEMBER 30 IS 100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE (100TPC), a big month for poets and other artists and friends. In honor of this annual global event, we are dedicating our September efforts to the interconnections/intersections of social justice, sustainability and peace and how each of these affects the others.
All topics related to the 100TPC themes of social justice, sustainability and peace are welcome. However, we are particularly interested in a positive focus on the need for human connectedness, healthy human interrelations, and caring for our fellow human beings.
“From police killings of unarmed citizens to governments rejecting immigrants and refugees; from racism to anti-Islam and anti-Semitism; from state-sponsored violence to terrorism – the political landscape increasingly devalues some among humanity over others. Given the rise of anti-humanity activism in the struggle for ‘power over’ – militarization of police, white Supremacism, NAZism, KKK,and corporate greed, for examples – as part of the mainstream’ U.S. political landscape that culminated in the most recent election cycle with the election of Donald Trump and in Virginia (among other white supremacist terrorist acts), the focus of this year’s 100TPC at The BeZine is why caring for our fellow human beings is the prime desirable human value and how social justice, sustainability and peace arise from that caring and contribute to all of humanity.” Michael Dickel (Meta/Phor(e)/Play), The BeZine 100TPC Master of Ceremonies
THE BeZINE SEPTEMBER SCHEDULE:
- September 10: deadline for submissions to the September issue. Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight PST.
- September 15: publication of The BeZine.
- September 30: The BeZine 100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) 6th Annual Virtual Event with Master of Ceremonies, Isrseli-American poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/Phor(e)/Play)
Peace, sustainability and social justice are the themes set for global 100TPC by cofounders Michael Rothenburg and Terri Carrion when the event was first started in 2011. I think the number of events scheduled at various places around the world is around 600 for 2017. To find or organize an event in your area link to 100TPC global HERE. I’ve also been posting announcements from around the world on The Poet by Day Facebook Page as they come in but you will find the most comprehensive and up-to-date info at 100TPC.
The detention yesterday of Russian Stage and Film Director, Kirill Semyonovich Serebrennikov, on dubious charges is part of a concerted campaign to silence dissenting voices in the arts in Russia.
Serebrennikov’s father was Jewish and a surgeon. His mother was from the Ukraine and taught Russian. Serebrennikov was graduated from Rostov State University in 1992. He was a physics major and had no formal theatre education prior to his 1994 debut as a stage director.
According to PEN America, Serebrennikov was detained on and will face trial on embezzlement. He is accused of embezzling 68 million rubles ($1.1 million) of state funding for a project called Platform, the purpose of which was to promote modern dance, theatre, and music to wider audiences. Investigators claimed that part of the project, a production…
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Today we feature one of Gretchen Del Rio’s beautiful Zen cats. Enjoy the visual and the Rumi quote below …
It’s that time of month when we share something of Gretchen Del Rio’s healing art to ease the shadows that nip at our heals.
This month from Gretchen Del Rio … a Japanse myth, a wise fox on her way to enlightenment – be sure to link through to Gretchen’s site to view the narrative and short video.
In Japanese mythology, a fox who lives long enough and gains a great deal of knowledge will reach an enlightened state, the Eastern sense of the ‘fox spirit’.
I was exploring the spirit of the fox via google and discovered this song in which fox is presented as a kitsune or fox who is trying to reach heaven in the form of a shooting star.
“To you my beloved to the land that lies beyond. Soaring through the heavens, she is moved to tears. I will fly out, I will dance in the night sky at the moment when this body disappears.”
So that’s what a shooting star is……. the Celestial Fox flying through the night sky.
A beatifully rendered unicorn by American artist, Gretchen Del Rio.
So…does the unicorn exist now or ever? Perhaps whatever we can imagine with the mind does exist.
Long before the pearly white unicorn of European lore, a one-horned, magical animal was said to roam the Eastern world: the Asian unicorn. First mentioned in written stories around 2700 BC, this unicorn is described as a creature of great power and wisdom. Always benevolent, it avoids fighting at all costs and walks so softly it will not crush a blade of grass. And no one but the very pure of heart should ever see it.
Tomorrow we begin a new month and a month without sharing something of Gretchen Del Rio’s would just not be a good month. Gretchen Del Rio dedicated this painting to the Native American flautist Carlos Nakai. If you’ve never encountered his work, you’ve really missed something. The esteem in which he is held is well earned.
watercolor 3/2017 8 x 10
I am dedicating this painting to honor the healing flute music of Carlos Nakai. When I was 3 years old a groundbreaking surgery was performed on my left hand and ring finger to remove a bone tumor. The innovative operation was very successful but not much hope was given that I would ever use my ring finger again. I was just so fortunate that the finger was saved. So when I was about 6 years old and I wished to learn to play the flute I was repeatedly discouraged and told that it would be impossible for me to learn because of my stunted and immobile finger. Since I kept pleading to try, a teacher was found and a silver flute supplied. I practiced and practiced and by the time I was 10 I won a music contest playing the flute that everyone said that I…
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April 15, 2017
Poetry Month means that we have arrived at
…the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain. (T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland)
I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.
However, she goes on in the very next lines to say
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers that there is in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
There is much that is genuine in this April issue of The BeZine, which celebrates Poetry Month globally with our celebration of interNational Poetry Month. We are proud to present a wide variety of poets and poetry from all over the world. We have 45 posts of poetry (many with more than one poem), an essay, and one short story. This issue of The BeZine is an anthology!
Over the years, questions of poetry’s health, suggestions of its “death,” and concerns over who, if anybody, might be reading it, continue to swirl around in various articles, essays, and round tables. While many of the debates one might encounter in this bubbling broth come from a perspective of poetry’s decline, it seems to me that the reasons that such questions arise come from two primary sources.
One is an anxiety about how society values what we do, as poets or readers of poetry. It seems that the writers from this vein often worry that, in fact, society does not value poetry—as recorded in statistics about readership or as suggested by some other perceived decline in attention to it. The other vein, in my view, is a more healthy concern with what poetry is and what we are doing when we “do” poetry (read, write, critique).
This past year, a lot of words spilled onto the screen and page regarding Bob Dylan receiving the Nobel Prize—is a song writer a poet? Of course, poetry comes from song, so a song writer is a poet. Is poetry still song, then, or has it gone “beyond”? These articles and essays seem to flow from both of the sources I’ve suggested: anxiety and reflection. If our modest zine is any indication, poetry thrives throughout the world.
While the anxieties and reflections continue—and they are not new, witness the 1919 date of Marianne Moore’s poem—poets continue to write, and readers continue to read. You are reading this, so you are evidence of readers who have an interest in poetry. Whether there are more or fewer readers in any year or decade might fluctuate, or the methods of measuring them might change. However, as there are poets, there are those who read poetry. And listen to it—as in spoken word and slam.
Billy Collins opens his essay, The Vehicle of Language, suggesting that a problem with the reception of poetry is how poetry is taught:
For any teacher of poetry with the slightest interest in reducing the often high-pitched level of student anxiety, one step would be to substitute for the nagging and ultimately pointless question, “What does this poem mean?” the more manageable question “Where does this poem go?” Tracking the ways a poem moves from beginning to end puts the emphasis on the poem’s tendency to travel imaginatively and thus to carry the reader in the vehicle of its language.
In principle, I agree that the emphasis should be on where poetry goes, how it plays with language—not on decoding “meaning.” The same approach could be applied to the concerns expressed about poetry. The concerns need not be about where poetry is as measured against expectations of its current quality, akin to the “meaning” anxiety of its teaching.
Although some express an anxiety about the “quality” of online poetry or spoken word or even “today’s” written word, we would do well to reflect instead on where poetry is going, for us as readers and writers—where we as writers of it want to go with our poetry, and where we as readers of it want poetry to go to be most satisfying.
Poetry invites us to take an imaginative journey: from the flatness of practical language into the rhythms and sound systems of poetic speech. (Billy Collins, The Vehicle of Language)
It is our hope that you will read the poetry here with an appreciation for poetry’s “place for the genuine,” and find satisfaction in the depth and breadth presented here. Whether or not you will have “a perfect contempt for it” as you read, we leave up to you…
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Celebrating interNational Poetry Month
To Read this issue of The BeZine
- Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
- You can read each piece individually by clicking the links below.
- To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
April Fool, Iulia Gherghei
Barricades and Beds, Aditi Angiras
The Burgundy Madonna, Patricia Leighton
Common Ground, Dorothy Long Parma
dancing toward infinity, Jamie Dedes
Don’t Let Fall Go – sonnet, Liliana Negoi
Donatella D’Angelo | unpublished poems 2016
Dreaming of Children, Renee Espiru
A few from the vaults …, Corina Ravenscraft
Four Poems by Reuben Woolley
Full Buck Moon and other poems by Lisa Ashley
gary lundy’s poetics | 5 prose poems
A geography of memories | Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
Grandmother, Dorothy Long Parma
having found a stone in my shoe …, Charles W Martin
healing hands …, Charles W Martin
Kali, Gayle Walters Rose
Kinga Fabó | 3 Hungarian Poems in Translation
Lead Boots, David Ratcliffe
levels, Liliana Negoi
luke 10:25-37…, Charles W Martin
Melissa Houghton | 3 Poems
Michael Rothenberg and Mitko Gogov
Ms. Weary’s Blues, Jamie Dedes
not with a bang but a whimper, three poems, Jamie Dedes,
One of My Tomorrows, John Anstie
patriarichal wounds…, Charles W Martin
Poetry and Prayer, Phillip T Stephens
PTSD Children, Charles W Martin
Rachel Heimowitz | Three Poems from Israel
the red coat, Sonja Benskin Mesher
Science Fiction, Phillip T. Stephens
Socks | Michael Dickel
Spring in my Sundays, Iulia Gherghei
Standing Post: Trees in Practice, Gayle Walters Rose
Teaching Poetry | Michael Dickel
Terri Muuss | and the word was
The Marks Remain, David Ratcliffe
Three Poems by Paul Brookes
Three Poems by Phillip Larrea
Three Poems from Albanian | Faruk Buzhala
To Our Broken Sandals, Mendes Biondo
To the Frog at the Door, Jamie Dedes
Two Poems by Denise Fletcher
Valérie Déus | 3 Poems
Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, Naomi Baltuck
Whispers on an April Morning Breeze, Joseph Hesch
Except where otherwise noted,
ALL works in The BeZine ©2017 by the author / creator
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“That some of those labelled as enemies
have crossed the lines to offer condolences
at the mourning tents; that the mourning
families spoke to each other as parents
and cried on each others’ shoulders;
that we cried for the children who died
on both sides of the divide; that the
war began anyway; that hope must
still remain with those who cross
borders, ignore false lines and divisions;
that children should be allowed to live;
that we must cry for all children who die”
– Michael Dickel, (Mosquitos) War Surrounds Us
Note: We did this interview some years ago. I’m posting it today so that readers who don’t know Michael may learn a bit about him. At some point tomorrow, we’ll hit the publish button for the April issue of The BeZine, dedicated to poetry. Michael is the lead editor for this issue. / J.D.
Jerusalem, Summer 2014: Michael Dickel and his family including Moshe (3 years when the interview was conducted, now 6) and Naomi (1 year at the time of the interview, now 4) hear the air raid sirens, find safety in shelters, and don’t find relief during vacation travels. In a country smaller than New Jersey, there is no escaping the grumbling wars that encircle. So Michael did what writers and poets do. He bore witness. He picked up his pen and recorded thoughts, feelings, sounds, fears, colors, events and concerns in poetry. The result is his third collection of poems, a chapbook, War Surrounds Us.
While some use poetry to galvanize war, Michael’s poetry is a cry for peace. He watched the provocations between Israel and Hamas that resulted in war in 2014 and he illustrates the insanity.
And the retaliation
Continues, reptilian and cold,
retaliation the perpetrator
of all massacres.
Though the poems change their pacing and structure, they present a cohesive logical and emotional flow, one that takes you blood and bone into the heart of Michael’s experience as a human being, a poet, a Jew, a father and husband. He touches the humanity in all of us with his record of the tension between summer outings and death tolls, life as usual and the omnipresence of war. Both thumbs up on this one. Bravo, Michael.
– Jamie Dedes
MY INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL DICKEL:
Jamie: Putting together a poetry collection and ordering the work in a way that enhances the meaning and clarity of poems included is not easy. One of the first things to strike me about the collection as a whole is how it flows, so well in fact that it reads almost like one long poem. I found that quality contributed to the work’s readability. How did you work out the order? Was it consciously ordered or did it arise organically out of the experience of the war?
Michael: I’m very gratified that you noticed this about my book. I hadn’t thought of it quite in that sense, of being one poem, but I like that it reads that way. The sense of a book holding together, a collection of poems having some coherence, is important to me. I don’t think my first book achieved this very well, although it has some flow poem to poem. The whole is not focused, though. My second book has a sense of motion and narrative, from the Midwest where I grew up to arriving and living in Israel, and now being part of the Mid-East. However, War Surrounds Us, my third book, finally has a sense of focus that the other two did not.
Unfortunately, I probably can’t take too much credit for that coherence. Even more unfortunate, a real war raged in Gaza, with rockets also hitting the Jerusalem area, not that far from where I live. As we know now, thousands died, most apparently civilians, many children. Just across the border to the Northeast, diagonally opposite of Gaza, a much larger scale conflict burned and still burns through Syria—with even larger death tolls and even more atrocities over a longer time. These wars had, and still have, a huge impact on me and my family.
During last summer, the summer of 2014, this reality of war surrounding us had all of my attention. And it came out in my writing as obsession with the war, my family, the dissonance between living everyday life and the reality of death and destruction a missile’s throw away. So the topic filled my poems those months, as it did my thoughts. And the poems emerged as events unfolded over time, so a sort of narrative wove into them—not a plot, mind you, not exactly, anyway.
This gives a chronological structure to the book. However, not all of the poems appear in the order I wrote them. I did move some around, seeing connections in a theme or image—if it did not jar the sense of the underlying chronology of the war. Some of the events in our life could move around, and I did move some poems to places where I thought they fit better. I also revised the poems, reading from beginning to end several times, trying to smooth out the flow. A few of the poems I actually wrote or started before this phase of the ongoing conflict broke out—but where they also fit into a pattern, I included them. In the end, I moved and revised intuitively, following my own sense of flow and connection. I’m glad that it seems to have worked for you, as a reader, too.
Jamie: What is the place of the poet and poetry in war? Can poetry, art and literature move us to peace? How and why?
Michael: This is a difficult question. Historically, one place of poets was to call the soldiers to war, to rile them up and denounce the enemy. There is a famous poem from the Hebrew Scriptures. Balaam is called by Balak to curse Jacob and his army. The story sets a talking donkey who sees an angel with a sword and other obstacles in his way, but long story short, he arrives and raises his voice. He is the poet who is supposed to curse the enemy. Instead, he begins, “How beautiful your tents, O Jacob…” and recites a poem that is now part of the Jewish liturgy. This is not necessarily a peace poem, but it shows words and their power to curse of bless. I think the place of the poet is to bless and, rather than curse, to witness with clear sight.
There is a long history of poet as witness and observer. Czeslaw Milosz in The Witness of Poetry and Carolyn Forché, following him, in her books Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness and Poetry of Witness, which goes back to the 16th Century, argue that the poet’s role is to observe and bear witness to the world—to the darkness, the atrocities, genocide, war… Forché quotes Bertolt Brecht: “In these dark times, will there also be singing? / Yes, there will be singing. / About the dark times.” I think that is what we do as poets. That’s what I hope that War Surrounds Us does at its best, albeit as much a witnessing of my own family and context as of the Other. Then, as feminist theory has taught me, the personal is political, the political personal.
Can art and literature move us to peace? I don’t know. I hope it can move us to see more clearly, to feel more acutely, and to embrace our humanity and the humanity of others. Perhaps that will move us toward peace. There is so much to do, and it is as the rabbinic wisdom says about healing creation: it may not be ours to see the work completed, but that does not free us from the responsibility to do the work. As poets, we make a contribution. I hope the songs about the dark times will also be blessings for us all.
Jamie: Tell us about your life as a poet. When did you start and how did you pursue the path? How do you carve out time for it in a life that includes work, children and community responsibilities. You live on a kibbutz, I think.
Michael: Well, starting at the end, no, I don’t live on a kibbutz, I live in Jerusalem (the pre-1967 side of the Green Line). I do teach English at a college that was started by the Kibbutz Movement as a teacher’s college in the 1960s, now Kibbutzim College of Education, Arts and Technology. That appears in my email signature and confuses some people outside of Israel, who think I teach as part of living at a kibbutz. I’m actually more like adjunct faculty, but no one at the college works directly for a kibbutz as far as I know, and the college is open to anybody who qualifies.
While I only have a short day, from when the kids of my current family go to pre-school until I pick them up, I also usually only teach part-time. Some semesters I teach full-time or even more, but usually not. And, many of my courses in the past couple of years have been online, meeting only a few times during the semester. This helps.
My wife works full-time in high tech, which allows us to survive on my irregular, adjunct pay. She also has some flexibility, which allows her to usually be free to pick up the kids as needed around my teaching schedule, and we have on occasion hired someone to help with the kids so I could teach, not so much for my writing. But that has allowed writing time on other days.
Mostly, I write during those few hours when the kids are at pre-school, after the kids have gone to bed, or even later, after my wife has also gone to bed. If I’m working on a deadline or a large project, such as some of the freelance work I do for film production companies, I write after my wife gets home from work even if the kids are still awake. Usually, though, I write when I find time, and I find time when I don’t have other obligations.
Perhaps of relevance to this book, the writing took over. I was late in getting papers back to students and delayed other obligations and deadlines, even canceling a couple of other projects—although it was not just the writing, but the whole experience of the war, dealing with it and wanting to be very present with my children. As the poems relate, we went to the Galilee, in the North, for a month, a vacation we have taken before. Last summer, though, it had extra urgency because of the war. Unfortunately, during an outing picking apples in the Golan Heights, we heard artillery across the border in Syria, and that’s when I wrote the title poem of the book, “War Surrounds Us.”
The summer before, on that same month-long getaway, I wrote a lot of flash fiction, which makes up most of my next book, which should come out by the end of the year (The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden came out December 2016, rather than 2015). I wrote during both summers when the kids were napping or after their bedtime, mostly. The place we stay in, a friend’s house (he travels every summer), has a lovely courtyard, and after the children went to bed, Aviva and I would sit out in it, usually with a glass of wine. She would read or work online and I would write on my laptop into the night. It was lovely and romantic.
I have to say that I almost don’t remember a time when I didn’t write poetry or stories. I recall trying to stop on a few occasions, either to work in some other aspect of my life, or when I did a different kind of writing, such as for my dissertation (which devolved into creative writing for more than half of it). But really, going back into my early years, I wrote stories or poems of some sort—influenced I suppose by A. A. Milne, Sol Silverstein, Kenneth Grahame and, later, Mark Twain and even Shakespeare. I had books of Roman and Greek myths, the Lambs’ bowdlerized Shakespeare for children, and some Arthurian tales as a child, not to mention shelves of Golden Books. Later, I read Madeleine L’Engle and a lot of science fiction. And everything I read made me also want to write.
I owe the earliest of my poems that I can remember to exercises from grade school teachers, one in 3rd grade, maybe 4th, the other in 6th grade. However, I’m sure that I wrote stories and possibly “poems” earlier. My first sense that I could become a poet arrived via a junior high school teacher, who encouraged me to submit some poetry to a school contest. I tied for first place.
So, I started writing forever ago. By the time of the junior high contest, I had read e e cummings, Emily Dickinson, some Whitman. By 9th grade, I discovered the Beats through a recording of Ginsberg reading “Kaddish” and other poems. Hearing him read the poems, then reading them myself, changed everything.
Alongside this development, one of my brothers brought Dylan records home that I listened to. All three of my brothers, with my parents’ tacit approval, played folk music and protest music in the form of songs of Woody Guthrie; The Weavers; Joan Baez; Peter, Paul and Mary; in addition to Dylan. These influenced both my writing and my world view. The same year that I came across Ginsberg’s work, I was involved in anti-war activity in my high school. That spring, four students were shot at Kent State. In another way, that changed everything, too.
Writing, activism, and politics, for me have always been interwoven. I also heard that year about “The Woman’s Movement,” which today we call Feminism. Later, much later, I would read and take to heart the idea of the personal being political, the body being political. I think my poems, even the most personal, always have a political and theoretical lens. And the most philosophical or political or theoretical, also have a personal lens. I don’t think that we can help but do that, but I try to be aware of the various lenses, of using their different foci deliberately as part of my craft. I’m not sure that is the current trend, and much of my work doesn’t fit well in spoken word or slam settings (some of it fits). However, this is my poetry and poetics—and they arise from a specific cultural context, the complexity of which I could not begin to convey in less than a lifetime of writing.
My development from those awakening moments looked like this: I read. I wrote. I shared my work with other people who wrote. Sometimes I talked with others about writing. My first degree in college was in psychology, not English, because I naively thought that psych would help me understand the human condition and that English would “ruin” – suppress – my writing voice. However, I took a lot of literature courses and my study abroad term focused entirely on literature.
After college, I had a career as a counselor working with runaways, with street teens, with children undergoing in-patient psych evaluations, and in a crisis intervention and suicide prevention center—a career that taught me a lot about politics, gender, race, and justice. I continued to write, often about some of the most disturbing realities that I encountered, but not well.
I had been out of college nearly a decade when I took some courses in creative writing at the University of Minnesota, at the suggestion of some friends in a writing group who had also taken some. One of the professors encouraged me to apply to the Creative Writing Program, where I was accepted. The acceptance was a poignant moment—I was out of state at my father’s burial. My now ex-wife remained back with our then 2 year-old daughter. She saw the letter in the mail, so called and read it to me. It was also my 32nd birthday. So many emotions all at the same time. Mostly, I remember wishing I could have told my father—from when he first heard that I’d applied, every phone call we had included his asking if I had heard yet if I had been accepted. It was the most direct way he had of saying he was proud.
Jamie: Tell us a little about 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) in Israel and how people can get in touch with you if they want to participate this year. Are you able to manage a mix of Arabs and Jews?
Michael: The thing about 100TPC is that it’s pretty loose, as an organization, and very anarchic in governance. Which is to say, I’m not sure there is something I could call 100TPC in Israel. There’s a wonderful poet in Haifa who does some events, I don’t think every year. She is very active in peace activism and poetry. There’s an Israeli mentor of mine, Karen Alkalay-Gut, who has organized 100TPC events in Tel Aviv since the first year. For the past two years, I organized a poetry reading in Jerusalem. The first one was small, a few people I knew and cajoled into reading. The second one was much larger, over 25 poets. We had one Arab writer, who writes in English, at the second reading. Her poetry is powerful and personal, written as an Arab woman, a mother, and an Israeli. An Arab musician was going to join us, but he had a conflict arise with a paying gig. It is difficult to manage the practical, political, and social barriers, but people do it here. I am just learning a bit how to do this now.
For this year (2015), I am working with two other organizations—the Lindberg Peace Foundation, which has held annual Poetry for Peace events. This year will be the 40th anniversary (yartzheit, in Hebrew) of Miriam Lindberg’s tragic death at the age of 18. She wrote poetry, was a peace activist, and also an environmental activist. Her mother was a poet and professor, and passed away a few years ago. Joining us in planning the Jerusalem event will be the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development. Their mission as I understand it is to develop interfaith leadership for common goals related to eco-justice that would also provide a model for solving the Middle East conflicts. (In the end, the collaborations did not work as planned in 2015, but there were three poetry events with some connection to 100TPC.)
The Jerusalem events won’t be the same date as the national event (26 September)—our dates will be 15–16 October, to honor the 40th anniversary of Miriam Lindberg’s death. Dorit Weissman, a Hebrew-language poet and playwright, also has become part of 100TPC this year, and she and I are having a smaller reading on 8 October with other poets.
We are just setting up a Facebook page for organizing with the three groups, 100TPC, the foundation, and the center. People could look for me on FB and send me a chat message there to be in touch. I hope that we will have the events posted on FB in the next few weeks, but we are still working on the details. The devil is always in the details, as the saying goes.
Be the peace.
© 2015, book review, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reserved; words, poetry, photographs of Michael, Michael Dickel, All rights reserved; cover illustration, The Evolution of Music, by Jerry Ingeman, All rights reserved
‘Raven’s lesson is to walk without fear even if the way is not clear…trust your intuition to guide you.’ As it is with all original people history is recorded through verbal stories. I love the tales from Native American culture because they add to the spirit and mystery of the animals that I […]
A lovely painting and some words on people awakening from Gretchen Del Rio.
The reason that people awaken is because they finally stop agreeing to things that insult their soul.
I have never been interested in politics or followed politics for a great many reasons, but present times, I feel, demand that I know what is transpiring in the government of the United States. What I am seeing is that seemingly soul less people have assumed authority. The common man has been duped into thinking that what is good for him and what he wants will be delivered along with his vote. Such a terrible manipulation. The entire world is watching things unravel and we citizens of the USA are being used for the soul less command of greed and power.
I function as a creative….an artist in this world. I see that it is my duty, my dharma to illustrate with my paintings caring, peace, love and humility that dwells never-ending…
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