“To paraphrase Tolstoy, you many not be interested in war, conflict, environmental injustice, and human rights abuses, but they are interested in you. They stalk everyone.” / Jamie Dedes
“Mother Africa survived the trauma of clanging chains of captivity during slave trade, shackles of colonialism, and winced from beatings of hard bolt nut clenched fists of apartheid. Children and grandchildren of Mother Africa watched helplessly her sorrowful dance to the acoustics of sufferance. Still, Africa remains resilient … smashing punches from kindred’s of neocolonialism: global village, digital revolution and consumerism. Mama Africa’s groin is ripped apart by her triplets: totalitarian regimes, economic malaise and moral decadence. Today Mother Africa of pyramids, Africa of Nefertiti , Africa of Lumumba, Africa of Mandela, Africa of Kambarage , Africa of Lithium , Africa of diamond and Africa of uranium wallow in murky waters of poverty, chronic civil wars, and deadly epidemics.” Mbizo Chirasha, Editor, Brave Voices Poetry Journal.
This is the first of a three-part series. The links to the others are at the bottom of the post.
When I was a junior in high school (circa 1966), our civics/history teacher said that Africa was a continent of much promise because of its diverse populations, its biodiversity, mineral resources, endless beauty, and its arts and wisdom traditions. She was right, of course. As a consequence, we spent several months of that school year studying the promise of Africa and its peoples.
For years after, Africa haunted me: Mosi-oa-Tunya, birds hitching rides on giraffes, white rhinos, the rhythms of kebero drums and the swing-and-sway of folk dance, the injera, the wat, and the niter kibby. But our teacher’s great vision of Africa’s promise was largely unfulfilled. Blame it on the fall-out from old-and-new waves of colonialism, apartheid, and corporate land-grab and land-rape. What could have been a place of hope and high expectation is rife with turmoil, poverty, and suffering. It is a place where poets who speak out against totalitarian regimes, greed, and violence put themselves at great risk in doing so. Today, I have the pleasure of featuring Mbizo Chirasha, one such poet. He is dedicated to gender equity, environmental justice, and human rights and he is on the run . / Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor, The BeZine
JAMIE: What were the events in your life that lead you to socially engaged poetry?
MBIZO: My father was a storyteller, an African traditionalist, a singer and a village griot. I grew up listening to the sound of thewind of the drum. Ritual and ancestral ceremonies were the norm and usually accompanied by spiritual song, dance, drum and chants. Iwas introduced to words at a tender age and more over tosounds of chirruping birds, syntactic over night hooting of owls, the rhythmic dove cooos, the dance and the smile of white moon. I am a grandchild of African proverb.
I am a child of war. I was born during the Zimbabwean struggle for independence. My ears sedimented to the clap of gun shots and the thunder of death, the thud of grenades, and heave of the Pungwe River’s songs. I read Achebe, Ngugi, Marechera, Hamutyineyi, Neto, Senghor, Miriam Ba, Tsodzo, Chiundura Moyo, Makari, Soyinka and more in my early teens. I became a school griot when I was seven.
JAMIE: Why is your life at risk?
MBIZO: I write the truth to any form of leadership: cultural, social and political, My literary arts activism and my human rights and arts for justice activities put me at risk.
I write feature articles that speak against dictatorship, injustice and tyranny. Political leadership in Zimbabwe does not like the truth. They want praise, which I think is a bad sign. We have violent goons among leaders who thrive on silencing writers, artists, activists and human rights defenders.
I am the Founder of the Zimbabwean We Want Poetry campaign, a global literary activism campaign that exposed and is exposing political rot, poor governance and corruption in Zimbabwe specifically and in greater Africa.
That campaign has led to the founding of the Brave Voices POETRY JOURNAL and the Freedom Voices Poetry Writing competition. This in turn has lead to the publication of more than 10,000 poems on various social media platforms.
My poetry in books and journals is critical to fighting systems that oppress masses, systems that violate human rights, systems that loot the economy and subject masses to abject poverty .
My latest poetry collection, A Letter to the President, the title itself does not sit well with politicians, zealots, and charlatans who survive on political and economic strife, but the collection is a must read.
It never mentions names but it speaks truth against injustice, corruption, violence and expediency and it got me in trouble: death threats, tailing, and haunting after the grand launch.
I don’t hesitate to write the truth. We have suffered under dictatorial leadership in Zimbabwe. We want the new leadership to reform and to refrain from abductions, corruption, violence and looting. We need the purpose to live, to belong and to love our beautiful country. We want political violence stopped. The abduction of artists and activists must stop.
JAMIE: What is the status of your situation now?
MBIZO: Exile has never been good but resilience is key. In exile you are both foreign to yourself and foreign to the land. Accommodation, security, resources, communication, and other foundations of personal welfare and trust become first priorities and they are not easy to come by because one is not in his usual haven. The stalking is constant and exhausting. You sleep with an open eye or walk with your eyes above your shoulders.
JAMIE: You put in an application to ICORN* in 2017. What was the response?
MBIZO: I am not happy because the reply was really bad,I don’t know whether they want you to loose a leg, a hand, or to die for them to accept your application to be safe.
* International Cities of Refugee Network; ICORN’s mission is “protecting and promoting writers and artists at risk.” I’ve read Mbizo’s paperwork. Responses to Mbizo’s 2017 application for assistance repeatedly indicate that his paperwork is in process but no action has been taken by ICORN on Mbizo’s behalf over the two years since he filed for safe haven.
JAMIE: What organizations have come forward to help you?
MBIZO: The main and major organization that have stood by me since 2017
are the following
a) PEN GERMANY 2017
b) EU-AFRICA DEFEND DEFENDERS FUND
c) ANDREAS WEILAND( WRITER/TRANSLATOR)
d) ELKE LANGE- SPAIN /GERMANY
e) INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ARTS FESTIVAL/THOMAS BLOCK
f) FREEMAN CHARI OF DIASPORA FUNDS
g) TRACY YVONNE BREAZILE
h) HADAA SENDOO FROM MONGOLIA
i) MICHALE DICKEL- WRITER IN ISRAEL
JAMIE: What is your plan now and how can we as part of the greater poetry community assist?
MBIZO: I continue with writing for justice, human rights, the truth, and with activism and literary activism. In this moment of madness, trials and hardships, poets must unite. Help me lobby resources, lobby institutions that offer assistance to writers-at-risk: PEN, UN Human Rights, Writers Centres, and Artists for Justice Centres for safety retreat.
We must all keep writing for truth, justice, and good governance.
Editor’s note: I want to get a letter-writing campaign going for Mbizo to help him attain safe haven. More on that in Part 3 on Monday. Tomorrow (Sunday), you’ll have the opportunity to read four of Mbizo’s poems. Stay with us in solidarity for free-and-open civil discourse, social justice and responsible governance. May all sentient beings find peace.
© 2019, photos and text, Mbizo Chirasha
- Part 2 of 3: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Mbizo Chirasha, Four Poems, The Poet by Day
- Part 3 of 3: Zimbabwean poet in Exile: Award-Winning Mbizo Chirasha, Call for Action – Here’s where the rubber hits the road!, The Poet by Day
- “Nights with Ghosts,” a poem from a child in Zimbabwe, The BeZine, Jamie Dedes
MBIZO CHIRASHA is a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017), Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York. 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.
“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
Tomorrow is our day to hear songs, read good poems, see satisfying videos, share art, and be moved to celebrate together and to foster peace, sustainability and social justice:
“One thing I learned from organizing 100 Thousand Poets for Change [100tpc] this year is that change will certainly come. It just might come at the very last minute. Wow! People all around the world are signing up right now, like crazy! We have 700 actions so far! Keep it coming!” Michael Rothenberg, Cofounder of 100,000 Poets for Change on September 21, 2019.
To find an event near you go to 100tpc.org.
And . . .
DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE BeZINE 100TPC VIRTUAL EVENT
Don’t forget to share your work tomorrow at The BeZine virtual 100TPC. A post will go up on The BeZine blog with complete and easy directions for participation. Michael Dickel and I will keep the event going for 24 hours at least. All you need is access to a computer. You don’t have to go anywhere to share, to read, and to be inspired.
See you there …
“This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear.
“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.” excerpt from The BeZine Mission Statement
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR
Our Annual 100,000 Poets and Friends for Change Issue
Calls for submissions of poems, feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, art and photography, music videos, and documentary videos on the themes of peace, sustainability and social justice is open now through September 10, 2019.
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY: Note we also are looking for something special to be the header for The Table of Contents Page.
Your original previously published work may be submitted as long as you own the copyright.
NO simultaneous submissions for September please.
Email submissions to email@example.com. Please note in your subject line: For Zine September 2019.
Among the guidelines: our core team, our guest contributors, and our readership are international and diverse. No works that advocate hate or violence, promote misunderstanding, or that demean others are acceptable.
The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort. While we do not pay for content, neither do we charge submission or subscription fees.
IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE GLOBAL YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE
CALLING YOUTH & ADULTS
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS of poems, feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, art and photography, music videos, documentary videos on climate change for The BeZine blog is open through September 10, 2019. In solidarity with the world’s youth, we’ll post work on Climate Change throughout September. Your original previously published work may be submitted as long as you own the copyright. NO simultaneous submissions. Please note in your subject line: For the climate change blog. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All honors to Contributing Editor Michael Dickel for coming up with this idea.
THE BACK STORY:
100 Thousand Poets for Change, or 100TPC.org, is an international grassroots educational organization focusing on the arts, especially poetry, music, and the literary arts. It was founded in 2011 by poet/artist/musician Michael Rothenberg and poet/translator/artist Terri Carrion, and focuses on a worldwide event each September.
This initiative crossed my radar in 2011 when it was founded. I fell in love with the idea of it, the world in solidarity for peace, sustainability and social justice. What could be more wonderful? Since I am disabled and homebound I couldn’t host an event or even attend one. I decided that there were probably others who would like to participate but for one reason or another could not do so. Thus, The BeZine Virtual 100,000 Poets and Others for Change was born. This makes it possible for anyone, no matter where they live or what their circumstance, to join in 100TPC as long as they have access to a computer. People can do a local or regional event and join with our virtual event as well should they care to do so.
About two years after we started doing Virtual 100TPC, I “met” Michael Dickel and invited him to join The Bardo Group Beguines, our core team, and he soon volunteered to be our virtual 100TPC master of ceremonies. This has become one of our more delightful yearly traditions. Michael will also take the lead on the September issue of the Zine, which honors 100TPC themes.
On Saturday, September 28, you are invited to visit The BeZine Blog and share your work on Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice via Mr. Linky or in the Comments section. Clear and detailed direction will be provided that day, but truly it’s an easy thing. You will, of course, also be able to read the work of others, which we hope you will do. Michael and I will keep the event going for 24 hours or so beginning at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time on September 28. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of love (respect) and community,
Founding and Managing Editor
Our Core Team:
Cloaked Monk (Terri Stewart)
James R. Cowles
dragonkatet (Corina Ravenscraft)
Chrysty Darby Hendrick
Charles W. Martin
scillagrace (Priscilla Gallaso)
The BeZine: Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be
Daily Spiritual Practice: Beguine Again, sister site to The BeZine and a community of Like-Minded People
Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines
Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines
Facebook: The BeZine Arts and Humanities Page (not just for poetry), a place to share your work
On my last visit to Juneau, my Alaskan sister Constance, told me a story. It began over fifteen hundred years ago, when a small band of Pacific Islanders, plagued by overpopulation and the depletion of natural resources, set sail across the Pacific in outrigger canoes to seek new islands to call home.
They were the ancestors of the people of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, and other Polynesian islands. Their only guidance was gleaned from the stars, the wind, ocean currents, the swell of the waves, the birds and the fish, the movement of the clouds. This ancient system of navigation, known as ‘wayfinding,’ enabled them to travel thousands of miles across vast stretches of ocean to remote tiny islands.
My sister told me she had volunteered at an event in honor of native Hawai’ian, Nainoa Thompson, who had come to Juneau to tell his story, and to celebrate the strong bond between the First Peoples of Alaska and Hawai’i. It began in 1976, when Nainoa wanted to follow in his ancestors’ wake by sailing from Hawai’i to Tahiti with only traditional navigation as guidance. He had a double-hulled outrigger canoe named Hokule’a, ‘Our Star of Gladness’. At that time, ‘wayfinding’ was in danger of being forever lost. Hawaii’s wayfinders had all died, and only a few elderly wayfinders remained in Micronesia. One of them, Mau Piailug, barely spoke English, and the trip from Hawaii to Tahiti longer than any voyage Mau had ever made. But Mau’s children, like the children of so many Native Americans, had been taken away to boarding schools, robbed of their culture, and any interest in learning the ancient art. He agreed to mentor Nainoa.
Under Mau’s tutelage Nainoa completed the trip, and became a master wayfinder, helping to preserve Hawai’ian culture. But the Hokule’a was built from modern materials, and Nainoa wanted to build a ship of traditional Hawai’ian materials. For almost a year, Nainoa searched throughout the Hawai’ian Islands for two koa trees to use as hulls.
Between the devastation of ranching and logging, he couldn’t find a single koa tree tall or thick enough to serve.
It was noted in Captain George Vancouvers journals in 1793–that some Hawai’ian canoes had hulls of Sitka Spruce. The logs had been carried three thousand miles from Alaska by ocean currents, tossed up on Hawaiian beaches, and were considered gifts from the gods.
Nainoa asked Alaskan tribal elders for two Sitka Spruce trees to build an outrigger canoe. He was told that he could have the trees “so you can build the canoe to carry your culture. But we won’t take their lives until you come see that they are what you need.”
The Sitka Spruce trees were beautiful; 200-feet tall, eight feet in diameter, over 400 years old. But Nainoa realized that he couldn’t take the life of those trees before dealing with the destruction of his native Hawaiian forests.
Nainoa returned to Hawai’i to launch a restoration program. People worked together, old and young–some traveled from Alaska–to plant thousands of koa tree seedlings, creating forests that will one day have tree big enough to make canoes.
Only then did Nainoa feel he could return to Alaska to accept the gift of the Sitka Spruce trees.
Nainoa called the new canoe ‘Hawai’iloa’, after the ancient wayfinder who first discovered the Hawai’ian Islands.
Those first Polynesian voyagers coped with overpopulation and depletion of resources by migrating to other uninhabited islands, but that’s no longer an option on our crowded planet. Nainoa’s expanded mission has become ‘Malama Honua’, which means ‘caring for the Earth.’ Last year the Hokule’a completed a three year tour that circled the planet, building global community, and promoting earth care and sustainability as well as Polynesian culture.
I believe we have strayed, and lost sight of the world we want and need to live in. But, as Nainoa discovered, and now teaches, if one is willing to listen and learn, there are wayfinders who can show us the way home.
All images ©2019 Naomi Baltuck
NAOMI BALTUCK (Writing Between the Lines)~ is Resident Storyteller at The BeZine. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer. Her works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE.
Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV (her personal blog) as well as on The BeZine.
Naomi conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.
Naomi says, “When not actually writing, I am researching the world with my long-suffering husband and our two kids, or outside editing my garden. My novel, The Keeper of the Crystal Spring (Viking Penguin), can be read in English, German, Spanish, and Italian. My storytelling anthology, Apples From Heaven, garnered four national awards, including the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice. I am currently working on a contemporary women’s novel.”
Peace is a very elusive concept. As a young girl growing up in California life was relatively peaceful but of course I was a child, and this was from a child’s perspective. We did not worry about having to duck and dodge bullets trying to get to school. We went to school, did our school work, had an hour recess in which we played kickball, dodgeball and indulged in many other fun physical activities. We socialized and then returned to the classroom for the afternoon session. When school was dismissed, we went home, did our chores and homework. We ate dinner and got ready for the next school day. On weekends we went to church, participated in programs and shows. We learned about God. In the summer we played outside for long hours enjoying ourselves immensely.
The most shattering experience of my peaceful idyllic childhood was the murder of Emmet Till. I remember I was still in elementary school. The school was mixed racially, and on that day, I was filled with such anger I wanted to lash out at my white classmates. My emotions were a jumble. We became aware of racism as we grew older, but it was not as overt as it was for children growing up in other parts of the country, the deep south especially. Racism in the Bay Area of California was subtle.
My first brush with underlying racism was when I was in junior high. The grades were 7th, 8th, and 9th, with 9th grade being the beginning of our high school academic record, even though the 9th grade was housed at the junior high level. When I was registering for my 9th grade classes towards the end of 8th grade, I told my counselor I wanted to sign up for college academic courses. Well the counselor then took it upon himself to let me know I did not have the ability to take academic courses, but I certainly could take the business courses offered such as typing. I was astounded but kept silent because I knew I had a very fiery advocate in the person of my mother. My mother went in the next day and quickly straightened that prejudice counselor out and I was enrolled in the college prep courses.
I often think of my best friend at that time whose father was a widower. She had five siblings and her dad worked two jobs. She wanted to be a doctor. Her dad could not come to school and she ended up in a string of business courses. When she graduated from high school, she got a job as a bank teller. Her childhood dream had been shattered by one bigoted act of callousness. Langston Hughes in his poem Harlem asks the question:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Or does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a sugary sweet?
Or maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Our peaceful childhood had come to an end. Unfulfilled dreams and goals started festering in souls in search of peace, equality, and justice. Growing up in the 60’s was an exhilarating time in the United States. My friends and I wanted to make a difference whether it was demonstrating in sympathy pickets called for by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. against Woolworth’s stores or singing about the unfairness of the House of Un-American Activities committee persecuting liberals and radicals accusing them of communist involvement.
This committee was formed in 1938 as a committee in Congress…a House committee. It became a permanent committee from 1945-1975. Their purpose was to investigate subversive activities on the part of private citizens. This was also the era of the Cold War (1945-1991), the name given to the tense relationship between the United States and its allies in the west and the USSR and the communist world including China. It was a war of words involving the race to Space and the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Anti-Communist hysteria…the red scare… was on the rise in this country. The first wave of HUAC hearings went after the movie industry. Many talented people ended up blacklisted including Paul Robeson and Langston Hughes. Jackie Robinson was called to testify about so-called communist subversion in the NAACP.
The House Unamerican Activities Committee in 1960 came to San Francisco City Hall to have hearings that involved journalists, college professors, and 110 public school teachers that had been subpoenaed the previous year. Their names had been leaked which created an uproar. The protestors were ready and prepared to peacefully picket. These demonstrators had gathered to protest assault on free speech and personal beliefs and were greeted with fire hoses, the police copying what had recently happened in Alabama during a protest for civil rights. The brother of a friend of ours had attended this demonstration and taught us the song the protestors were singing:
Did they wash you down the stairs Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Did they wash you down the stairs charming Billy?
Yes, they washed me down the stairs
And they rearranged my hair
With a club in the City Hall Rotunda
We were young high schoolers in search of a just and a nonviolent world. Civil rights demonstrations were occurring around the United States. Violence and bloodshed were a tragic part of this movement just as it had been in the past to Blacks, Native Americans and other minority groups. Non-violence was an integral part of the Civil rights Movement. Participants, especially in the deep south were trained on how to protect themselves if they were attacked. There was a pledge card to sign often referred to as the Dr. King’s Ten Commandments. Number 2 read “Remember always that the non-violent movement seeks justice and reconciliation-not victory” and Number 8 read “Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.” Dr. King was influenced by Ghandi because of the great victory in India using non-violence. Ghandi was influenced by the teachings of Jesus as found in the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
This was the 1960’s and as the Civil Rights Movement was making strides in changing minds, attitudes, and hearts while simultaneously being enmeshed in both triumph and tragedy Vietnam was looming on the horizon igniting the indignation of the people, both those that opposed the war and those that supported it. This was the age of the draft that when all males hit the age of 18, they had to register with the Selective Service System. My brother was drafted as were other close friends. Small demonstrations against the war began as soldiers were being deployed to Vietnam. As more and more American soldiers lost their lives the voices of those in opposition to the war became stronger and stronger.
Much of the music that played over the airways reflected the times both in rhythm and blues and folk music. Nina Simone singing “Young Gifted and Black” and James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud”. The words to Pete Seeger’s popular folk song “Where have all the Flowers Gone” written in 1955 inspired the demonstrators against the war to greater heights of concern and activism. Here is one of the verses:
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
Protestors burnt draft cards, conscientious objectors fled to Canada, Heavy weight champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the Army in 1967 because his local draft board rejected his application to be classified as a conscientious objector. He was arrested and stripped of his title. Also, in 1967 Dr. King publicly denounced the war speaking out against United States policy in Vietnam. The war raged on as did anti-war demonstrations. Paris peace talks began in 1968 and eventually a cease fire was also signed in Paris in 1973. The last military units left Vietnam this same year. Fifty-eight thousand American troops lost their lives in this war along with over several million North and South Vietnamese soldiers including civilians, men, women, and children. Thank God my brother and other friends came home alive but severely traumatized, a condition that years later would be labeled post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Since the World Trade Center tragedy, the United States has been involved in war, the war on terrorism…Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria to name a few of the countries in which we have troops. We are also in a war of words with North Korea. In addition to wars outside the country the United States once again is embroiled in battling internal injustices. Racism and xenophobia are at an all-time high recalling the pre-civil rights movement era in which hatred for the most part was directed against blacks. But now narrow-minded, warped rhetoric along with violence is being spewed out not only against blacks, but Muslims, immigrants, and Jews as well.
We are living in the time of “dreams deferred’. For African Americans Michele Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow is now the new reality. Over 2,000,000 people are incarcerated in the United States. The war on drugs has contributed significantly to mass incarceration. One out of three black males and one out of six Hispanic males will go to jail. The school to prison pipeline another phenomenon has destroyed lives. Young black people with no hope, no dreams filled with generational anger are literally “exploding” throughout their communities.
Dreams of young immigrants brought to this country as children, the” Dreamers”, now live in fear of being deported. Immigrant children are being forcibly separated from their parents after crossing the border. A proposed wall to be built that will keep our southern neighbors out, stopping them from seeking political asylum because they are trying to escape horrific conditions in their own countries, is an issue of great controversy. Limitation on immigration from Muslim nations has been enacted.
The music plays on…picketing, marching, singing, demonstrations demanding justice for just causes. United empathetic people riding the waves of despotism and cruelty denounce current inhumane practices in this country harmonizing Woody Guthrie’s song:
This Land is Your Land
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me
Will there ever be peace, that elusive concept, in our nation, or in the world? As Bob Dylan’s famous folk song, composed back in the sixties, so aptly states “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind…the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
© 2019, Tamam Tracy Moncur (Mercer Street Blues)
Tamam tells us “I enjoy writing. I write for the sheer pleasure of writing. Writing helps me organize my world and express what matters to me at any given moment in time. I’ve been a Civil Rights activist, taught elementary school for twenty-five years, worked with my husband, Grachan Moncur III arranging musical compositions and performing. In 2008 I self-published a book entitled Diary of an Inner City Teacher, a project that was very close to my heart. I am now a retired teacher, a community activist, and a seasoned senior who still loves to write.”
Behind the scenes people all over the world – including those of us here at The BeZine – are getting ready to promote poetry and other arts as game changers. Words can have legs after all and 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) puts “act” into activism and community involvement. Under the direction of Cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, the focus for 2018 Global is on reading poetry to children. From all over the world 2,000 individuals and groups have committed to participate in this initiative from March 24 – 29.
Dear Poets and Poetry Lovers,
Will you read a poem to a child on September 29 as part of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Global initiative “Read A Poem To A Child?”
This seems to be an important year to highlight the significance of children in the world. We are increasingly aware of their fragility.It is time to take a moment in this busy, crazy life we live, and share something we cherish.
Poetry is our gift.If you will read a poem or poems to a child or children from September 24 – 29, please let us know your city name via the 100TPC communication hub.
Here at the Zine, we’ll celebrate 100TPC with a focus on Social Justice for our upcoming issue, September 15. Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play) is heading our peaceful charge for that edition and also for our virtual 100TPC event on Saturday, September 29. This has become a tradition here and Michael is skilled in handling both these responsibilities. We hope you’ll join us at the Zine on the 15th and for 100TPC on the 29th to help us support this global effort and its ideals.
– Jamie Dedes, Managing and Founding Editor
“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” Bryan Stevenson
The world is rife with injustices that call for our attention and there are many social justice initiatives that bring people together to raise awareness, right wrongs, and offer sucor to the torn and weary.
PROMOTING SOCIAL JUSTICE
While the daily news feeds our sadness, fears and hopelessness, you and I are a reason for joy. If you are reading this, it is likely that you are one of the millions of old souls whose natural instinct is for justice and respect.
There is joy in the fact that so many of us live in a time and place were we can put out a call for solidarity, a call to move on to right and just action. Therein lies our hope and grace and our ability to keep on keeping on.
What an extraordinary thing it is that we have the means, the inner sight, the backbone, and passion for this good work. My hope and strength comes from the poets, writers, artists, clerics, and readers of every type and from every corner of the world who come together virtually for each edition of the The BeZine, for the yearly 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, Global, for those who will join in Rev. Terri Stewart’s (Beguine Again and The BeZine) Unite with Might initiative, for the Abuelas (Grandmothers) caravaning to the Mexican Border to support the families crossing into the U.S., and for the many peace and social justice efforts that go on all over the world, even in the darkest places where preaching justice to power invites imprisonment, torture and death.
– Jamie Dedes
UNITE WITH MIGHT
“We are uniting together to stand against hate and to promote hope, love, and inclusion for all of our neighbors.
“Sometimes it seems that there is so much hatred in the world that it is impossible to know what to do next. But changing hate to hope, loneliness to love, paranoia to peace, isolation to inclusion, starts with us. The beloved community. We are mighty when united for causes that uplift the values of hope, love, and inclusion. Hence the name, Unite with Might.
“On August 11 and 12, Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, leaders of the alt-right movement (Unite the Right) that marched in Charlottesville, VA, are having a rally in Washington, D.C. and hope to also rally again in Charlottesville, VA, where a young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by alt-right marchers.”
Washington, D.C., National Parks Service has approved the alt-right’s permit to gather.
In my faith tradition, the table is where everyone is welcome, included, and finds connection to the ineffable mystery beyond our understanding. And so we propose gathering around food. This is a different kind of gathering. A gathering in each of our communities and each of our homes that opens our doors and hearts to everyone.
- Churches, Synagogues, Masjids, and other Religious & Cultural Communities!! Hold picnics and BBQ’s! Read prayers of inclusion!
- Cities, towns, and counties! Make statements of inclusion for all citizens!
- Schools! Ensure that your students know that hate speech is unwelcome and teach them the hard parts of history!
- Families! Discuss the history of white supremacy with your children!
- Bloggers! Splash the world with a voice that proclaims that this is a new day!
Make a public stand that the alt-right will not win the day. Love always wins.
Please sign on and let us know if you will be holding an event or making a public statement or declaration where the values of hope, love, and inclusion will be uplifted. We must let the world know that hate will not win! And that our numbers are much stronger than the puny amount they expect to rally. We are strong together! Mighty! #UniteWithMight !
Our website is: www.UniteWithMight.com
Rev. Terri Jane Stewart
Note: We are hosting a virtual Unite with Might event at The BeZine on August 11 and 12. You’ll be able to post thoughts, activies, videos, art, poetry – whatever can go into a comment. This will enable your support and participation even if there is no event accessible near you. It will also allow you to share what you are doing with others in Unite with Might. / Jamie Dedes
ORGANIZING AROUND PEACE, JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABILITY
“100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around something other than our literary careers, something more than our recent publications. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around peace, justice and sustainability, and we have set our priorities. Immigration, gender inequality, global warming, police brutality, censorship, homelessness, war are among those priorities. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we know it is essential to build a global community that will work together to make a better world, a global community which will exchange information to make us smarter and more informed about the needs that exist beyond our own bubble, and to learn new strategies from our friends around the world, to make us better organizers who can build that better world. We write, we demonstrate, we rally, we create, we raise funds for homeless and assist food banks, we are engaged… [because so many] are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to make good things happen. Will you join us? If so, connect with us on our Facebook Page and register at 100tcp.org.” Michael Rothenberg
In 2011, Michael Rothenberg and his partner Terri Carrion co-founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change [100tpc], a global poetry and arts movement with an emphasis on peace, justice, sustainability and education.
100tpc assists poets and artists around the world in organizing and planning events in their local communities, which promote social, environmental, and political change. Over 500 events take place in 100 countries each year. Events include poetry readings, music and dance concerts, art exhibits, art and activism workshops and street demonstrations.
100 Thousand Poets for Change is an annual event but 100 Thousand Poets for Change activities take place year round.
ABUELAS RESPONDEN / GRANNIES RESPOND
The abuelas are asking what you are willing to sacrifice now that the most vulnerable are threatened by violence, separation, and hate. They are calling on women and men to come out and caravan with them to the Mexican Border to protest the abuses there. Details HERE.
If you are viewing this post from an email subscription you’ll likely have to link through to the site to see this video.
– Jamie Dedes
Rev. Terri Stewart shares a post-Christmas poem.
The Work of Christmas
by Howard Thurman (1899-1981), African-American poet, theologian, and civil rights leader
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
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)
In December 2015 world events led to a spontaneous eleventh hour special section – Waging the Peace – in The BeZine.. This seems a propitious moment to bring to the fore once again those ideas, ideals and experiences shared by Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill, Rev. Ben Meyers, Father Daniel Sormani, C.S. Sp., Sophia Ali-Khan, Israeli-American poet Michael Dickel, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi. Thanks to all of them and to Carla Prater, the assistant director of Buddhist Global Relief for their contributions to this collection and their assistance. The links to the features in Waging Peace are included below the following introduction.
Rabbi SteinBerg-Caudill (the Interfaith Rabbi) is a Jewish teacher who espouses a Jewish Spirituality and Universalist teaching for the future brotherhood of all people. When I contacted him about this effort he reminded me of what surely should be foremost in our minds and hearts:
“The Hebrew word for PEACE – שלום – does not imply a lack of strife. It implies instead WHOLENESS, COMPLETION. If one is in a state of peace, he can still be whole in a time of chaos.”
Rev. Meyers of the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo also counsels inner peace with his You are the promise … the one … the hope. Rev. Meyers says:
“I understand and often share the ‘urge of urgency’ over the peacefulness of peace. But this I also know: We live at the intersection of action and reflection.”
Father Sormani, a Spiritan priest who has lived and worked in Algeria and Dubai and is now teaching theology at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, asks What Have We Done that People Can Pick-up Weapons and Kill. Father Dan says:
“We have become our own worst enemy. Whenever we separate the world into ‘them’ and ‘us’, whenever we accept blind generalizations and cease to see a unique individual before us, whenever we forget we are all victims of carefully orchestrated deceit and deception for wealth and power, the force of darkness wins. Bullets will never win this struggle, only the heart and mind will.”
Lest you missed Sofia Ali-Khan‘s letter, Dear Non-Muslim Allies, which made the rounds on Facebook and was also picked up by some mainstream media, we’ve included it here.
We’ve also included a video recitation of Tunisian poet Anis Chouchéne‘s profoundly moving poem against racism and fanaticism. Chouchène speaks directly to radical Islam … but I think you’ll agree that he ultimately speaks to the fear in all of us.
“Peace we keep an eye on/while it packs its bags/to abandon our lands, little by little …”
Chouchène concludes as Father Dan does, that we must be able to see the individual.
Michael Dickel‘s poem Mosquitoes (excerpt from his chapbook, War Surrounds Us – Is a Rose Press 2015), is featured. The poem starts out with Israelis and Palestinians crossing the artificial lines that divide to offer one another condolences on the deaths of their children. This is a favored poem of mine, especially so because when I initiated The Bardo Group (now The Bardo Group Beguines) in 2011, I had in mind virtual crossing of boarders through the arts. (Our mission statement is HERE.) Michael’s poem demonstrates how we are manipulated by the propaganda machine.
We’ve included a short video presentation on the seven steps to peace developed by peace activist, Rabbi Marc Gopin. Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC).
The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi is Buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition, an author and teacher. He is the founder of Buddhist Global Relief. With permission, we offer the 2015 talk he gave at the New Year’s Interfaith Prayer Service, Chuang Yen Monastery. Bhikkhu Bodhi says:
“Real peace is not simply the absence of violent conflict but a state of harmony: harmony between people; harmony between humanity and nature; and harmony within ourselves. Without harmony, the seeds of conflict and violence will always be ready to sprout.“
Bhikku Bodhi goes on to analyze the obstacles to achieving world peace, the prerequisites of peace, and the means to realizing these goals.
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines and in the spirit of love and community,
Founding and Managing Editor of The BeZine.
Waging The Peace
An Interfaith Exploration
You are the promise . . . the one . . . the hope, Rev. Ben Meyers
What Have We Done That People Can Pick Up Weapons and Kill?, Fr. Daniel Sormani, C.S.Sp.
Dear Non-Muslim Allies, Sofia Ali-Khan
Peace Be Upon You, شوشان – سلام عليكم, Anis Chouchène
Mosquitoes, American-Israeli poet, Michael Dickel, Jewish
Peace Steps: One Man’s Journey Into the Heart of His Enemies, Rabbi Mark Gopin
Waging Peace, Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist teacher
JOIN REV. WILLIAM BARBER TODAY at 4 p.m. Eastern Time for immediate response to address the Executive Orders this week that threaten immigrants, refugees, and Muslims, along with new efforts to undermine voting rights and punish sanctuary cities must be met with a powerful and rapid response. TODAY, please join Rev. William Barber and Catherine Orsborn, and other faith leaders at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT for a national call on what we can all do to resist and move forward.
Call in to (319) 527-2731 Access Code: 150728. We also ask that you register here so that we can send you follow-up alerts, information, and toolkits.
In the meantime, we put together this Rapid Response Guide for People of Faith & Moral Conscience with resources from partners on how to prepare for moral resistance, call your representatives, post on social media, and more. Share it. We will continue to update this guide as events unfold.
In #MoralResistance and #RevolutionaryLove. (Go to those links on Facebook. They’re public so you don’t need to be on Facebook to see them.)
Photo of Rev. Barber leading a Moral Monday gather courtesy of twbuckner under CC BY SA 2.0 License
the unconscionable dance in the canyons of power,
lined with megalithic buildings, the edifice complex
of the spin-meister’s lie, that the demigods can do
anything – anything – walking this asphalt valley
a parade, flailing lemmings trussed and trusting their
die-cut dreams to the pitiless whim of the military/
industrial/medical alliance, whose war-cries are of
greed and arrogance, believing they’ll live forever,
today’s sovereignty, tomorrow’s guarantee. But it’s
all delusion – cultures die and the hope-crushing
architects of cuts and austerity measures are like
the rich man in the Lazarus story, there’ll be
some kind of backlash, some kind of hell to pay …
© Jamie Dedes
“Rich Lazarus! richer in those gems, thy tears,
Than Dives in the robes he wears:
He scorns them now, but oh they’ll suit full well
With the purple he must wear in hell”
Richard Crenshaw (c.1613-1649), English cleric, teacher, metaphysical poet, Steps to the Temple. Sacred Poems, Delights of the Muses (1646)
© photo credit,1930 breadine sculpture at the FDR memorial courtesy of Peter Griffin, Public Domain Pictures.net
Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
Ebenezer AME Zion Church: 1716 23rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
“Did you know that King County Juvenile Court is piloting Peacemaking Circles as an alternative and community-based way to resolve some of its juvenile felony cases? This reduces incarceration, fosters healing for both victims and offenders, and affords a profound opportunity for transformation. This is the Gospel in action and it’s unfolding right here in our own backyard. Church communities are needed to help expand our network of circle providers. Would your faith community like to be involved? Please join us to learn more.” Rev. Terri Stewart, Founder and Director of Youth Chaplaincy Coalition
Contact for Protestant and Interfaith Communities: Rev. Terri Stewart (425) 531-1756 or YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org
Contact for Catholic Communities: Joe Cotton (206) 382-4847 or email@example.com
© Photos, Terri Stewart
Since 2011, 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) has worked with poets, writers, artists, musicians and other creatives to help organize events around the world for peace, justice and sustainability.
Now, more than ever mobilization is crucial. Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, cofounders of 100TPC, have created a GLOBAL ACTION CALENDAR open to EVERYONE to post Creative Actions around the world. Michael and Terri continue to emphasize the need for INCLUSIVITY and true DIVERSITY in our global network.
They hope this calendar will help people connect and give access to those who are often marginalized in our creative communities.
So many of you are doing so much. Thank you! and thanks to Michael and Terri.
Link HERE to post your event.
The photograph is in the public domain.
From all of us here at “The BeZine,” Beguine Again and in The Bardo Group Beguines, wishing you every blessing throughout this holy day season. Be the peace and peace will be with you.
The Wiyot lived in the Humboldt Bay area of Northern California and they live in my dreams. For about a year-and-half we made our home in Humboldt County, an area about 200 miles north of San Francisco on the far North Coast. It’s a place dense with redwood forests, wild rivers, and creeks that run dry in the summer and overflow in the winter. If you live in a rural area or grew up in one, you might take such things for granted. Having lived in paved-over cities all my life, they seemed magical to me.
Our four acres were rich with sequoia, madrone, oak, and twenty-eight fruit trees. Blue jays flew in to feed in the morning. Quail families visited at night. They marched down our drive in orderly formation. Hawks and hummingbirds put on air shows. Rosemary thrived unattended. There was a beautiful lush 100-year-old rosebush. There were wild roses too. They gifted us hips for homemade cough syrup.
The colors there were brilliant and varied: smog-free blue skies (you could see the stars at night!), rich brown earth, a population of purple iris in a grove of California bay laurel, orange cosmos and red dahlias, yellow scotch broom lining our creek-side in the company of cascading Japanese quince. The Japanese quince provided ample housing for Rufus hummingbirds. Nearby, Queen Ann’s lace stood unbent by the wind. When it went to seed we collected the seeds for cooking. They have a taste somewhere between carrot and caraway.
The spread of blackberry bushes was both wonder and wealth. They seemed never to run out of fruit. I gathered some almost every morning for breakfast and every morning I thought of the women in buckskins who preceded me more than a century ago. Perhaps there was a mother who stood on this spot, picking blackberries for her son too.
I think the peace, quiet and simplicity of that place made it easy to imagine the first peoples as they might have lived there in other times. I could see them tending fires, boiling and drying acorns and then grinding them for flour, bathing in the river, raising their children, gathering wood, hunting and enjoying sacred ceremony. I knew the very same ancient sequoia that watched over us had watched over them.
Finally, I did some research. I was sad but not surprised to find that the area was once inhabited by an indigenous people – the Wiyot people – who were decimated in a genocide ~
“Eureka newspapers of the time exulted at the night massacres conducted by the “good citizens of the area”. Good haul of Diggers and Tribe Exterminated! were 2 headlines from the Humboldt Times. Those who thought differently about it were shut up by force. Newspaper publisher and short story writer Bret Harte called it “cowardly butchery of sleeping women and children” — then had to flee ahead of a lynch mob that smashed his printing presses.” MORE [Wiyot Tribal Council Page]
Note: Originally written in 2012, I’ve posted this today as a an acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 12. More than 40 US jurisdictions celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day; the majority of these have replaced Columbus Day with this holiday, but some jurisdictions celebrate both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In addition to reading here, please also treat yourself to Michael Watson’s post Silence, Story, and Healing, a short and thoughtful piece.
© 2012, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit ~ Eel River by Jan Kronsell and released into the worldwide public domain; Scotch Broom by Danny S. – 001 under CC BY-SA 3.0; Humboldt Bay near Eureka by Tony via Wikipedia and Licensed under CC A 2.0 Generic; Wiyot Mother and Child, Humboldt State University
WRITING PROMPT, Not for writers only
Perhaps you too grew up in a time and place where the history books taught a one-sided view of the land you live on and the people who originated there. Perhaps, like me, you had to get out of school and meet new people, read books that weren’t sanctioned by academic authority and do your own research to learn about the devastation that was and is rained upon indigenous people all over the world … the violence, the slavery and the genocide. Perhaps you are a descendent of the original people who suffered so and know the truth from the stories of your elders. Perhaps your roots are in the nations of empire and you are saddened that they perpetrated or were complicit in such unimaginable injustice.
We can’t change what happened in the past but we can make sure that lies aren’t propagated and that the truth is told and shared. Whether or not you are a writer, try this exercise: write a poem, short story, essay or article that illustrates some aspect of colonialism, racial bias and stereotype, or the modern complications of colonial history. Doing research and writing about our feelings are good ways to clarify circumstance and clear out unconscious bias. That’s one of the possible benefits of journaling, for example. If you are a professional poet or writer, you have the tools to help set the record straight and win a small victory for the human race.
– Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)
The Tahirih Justice Center stands alone as the only national, multi-city organization providing a broad range of direct legal services, policy advocacy, and training and education to protect immigrant women and girls fleeing violence. Come out and support some of New York’s most powerful artists as they perform to raise money for a worth cause. $10 suggested donation all going to the center. Thanks to Terri Muuss for sharing this with us. Lifting the Veil Facebook Page is HERE.
August 7 at 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. EDT at BrickHouse Bewery & Restaurant 67 W. Main Street, Patchogue, New York 11772.
a man, a woman, a stick
the stick stood in the corner of the kitchen
a constant threat; stoking, as it was meant to,
he had a man’s right to deliver his blows
to vent his anger and his self-contempt
to cause suffering for the insufferable
someone had to make it up to him,
his loss-of-face to race, creed and poverty
for her part, eve’s daughter was ripe,
shamed by her intrinsic sinfulness,
worn by her constant pregnancies
her femininity: tired and task-bound,
guilt flowing freely, as all-consuming as lava
[relief, only in death]
and the seventh child was born to die
and the man was demanding his bread
she wrapped the girl in swaddling cloth,
placed her gently by the stove, and
while the newborn made busy with dying,
the woman prepared him his meal
© 2015, Jamie Dedes
May 15, 2016
Books are a uniquely portable magic.
Stephen King, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”
Books are a primary way we get to travel, meet new people, and learn about the world and the human condition outside the narrow confines of our personal concerns, our families and communities. They are indeed magic: they inform, heal, spur us to action, offer new perspectives, new ways of being in the world and – perhaps most important – they open us to the joys and suffering of others.
In this month’s lead feature, Algerian poet, writer, university student and frequent contributor to The BeZine, Imen Benyoub, tells how three important books that focus on war and genocide teach us about “courage, tolerance, love and sacrifice” and bear witness to “how generous and resilient a human spirit can be, even in the darkest times.”
Imen’s feature is suggestive of The BeZine‘s raison d’etre: to come together from different parts of the world, different cultures, races and creeds, to show our soft underbelly, our most human side in the interest of peace. We are here to quietly be ourselves, to share and in so doing to recognize one another as sister and brother, not “other.” If one of us bleeds, we all bleed. Let us not be silent in the face of daily brutalities. Pens, not swords, open minds and hearts and heal our world. This month – as always – our writers represent a diversity of nations, religions (or lack of), ethnicities and cultures. While this is an English language publication, not all of our writers have English as a first language.
Lilianna Negoi and Contributing Editor, Priscilla Galasso, get us started at the beginning, our early childhood reading. Lana Phillips tells the touching story of comfort in reading Red Shoes for Nancy about a girl older than she who was also living with disability. Corina Ravenscraft tells us how two books made a substantive difference in her life and way of being in the world. Michael Watson says in his essay:
Being an avid reader, I have developed a suspicion that, like the Great Weathers, almost any book can change one’s life for good or ill, and that timing has a lot to do with the outcome.
James R. Cowles’ essay, Escaping Into Reality, offers a lot to think about (as his essays always do) and Mendes Biondo (new to our pages) tells us of personal growth and changes in perspective fostered by an encounter with The Cannon of 20th Century Greek poet, Costantino Cavafy.
We move on to poetry by several of our core team members: John Anstie’s profound Looking South (looking back) with Frodo Baggins; Joe Hesch’s well-crafted and honest poems Schwund und Reue (Loss and Regret) and Confessions of Light-reading Poet; Naomi Baltuck combines a poem by Alice Lowe with her signature photo-storytelling; Charlie Martin loves too many books; Liliana Negoi writes movingly and vividly of reading.
We have several newcomers to our pages this month. We are delighted to introduce poets Joshua Medsker, whose poem is included with the themed pieces and, under the More Light section, Miki Byrne, Sakshi Chanana and Maggie Mackay. Please be sure to welcome them with “likes” and comments. Read their bios HERE.
Also under More Light are Naomi Baltuck’s always engaging photo-stories. We close with a charming art piece from Marlyn Exconde and her children.
Enjoy! … and be the peace …
Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor
Essays and Photo Stories
The First Book That Shaped Me, Lilianna Negoi
Books That Change Lives, Priscilla Galasso
Red Shoes for Nancy, Lana Phillips
Books That Changed My Life, Corina Ravenscraft
Books and Great Weather, Michael Watson
Escaping Into Reality, James R. Cowles
May there be many a summer morning …, Mendes Biondo
Looking South with Frodo Baggins, John Anstie (essay & poem)
A Merry Literary Christmas, Naomi Baltuck and Alice Lowe
Schwund und Reue, Joseph Hesch
Confessions of a Light-reading Poet, Joseph Hesch
too many loves, Charles W. Martin
The Poetic Books, Joshua Medsker
Night Light, Liliana Negoi
Magic Is Your Name, Marlyn Exconde and Children
CONNECT WITH US
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Access to the biographies of our core team contributing writers and guest writers is in the blogroll to your left along with archived issues of The BeZine, our Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines.