Contributing Editor, Michael Dickel’s new collection, upcoming from Finishing Line Press



Congratulations, Michael. We’re so proud.

I’ve read Michael’s latest collection and will post a review, interview, and some sample poems shortly on The Poet by Day… Meanwhile NOW IS THE TIME TO PRE-ORDER Michael Dickel’s title, Nothing Remembers.
Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor, The BeZine


Advanced praise: 

.
“He raises the question of whether the past can be preserved in memory, or whether memory is most effective in the face of loss. Either way, what does the past leave us, who are we with or without the past, and if poetry can occasionally fill gaps in our present, what if anything can it give us of our past? Is poetry anything at all — or is it nothing at all, and is the nothing of poetry the best memorialization? Dickel’s sensory, sensual, musical lyric roves across wet and dry landscapes, food and drink, family and friends, darkness and light, sleep and wakefulness, dreams and reality. His words hover between his homes in the Mideast and the American Midwest, conveying the fragility of present and past, enacting a memory at high risk of loss, maintaining faith against staggering odds. Nothing Remembers is a dream of peace, the peace that may come if and when persons and peoples live in a present comfortable with close and distant memory.
–Hassan Melechy, author of Kerouac: Language, Poetics, and Territory (Bloomsbury) and A Modest Apocalypse (Eyewear)
.
Michael Dickel combines powerful imagery and poetic beauty with a reality beneath life’s skin, that will gently shake the reader into an awareness, refreshing and engaging. He will take you through his pages to a ‘resting state’ where possibilities in your mind will feel endless.
–Silva Merjanian, author of Life and Legends
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Between knowing and dreaming, shattered screams, pulses, shadows and longing, Michael Dickel’s arresting fourth collection, Nothing Remembers, navigates an erotics of re-membrance renegotiating a Proustian ethos of things resonant, prescient, and the ghostly revenance of hope.
–Adeena Karasick, author of Salomé: Woman of Valor
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“I know so many wildly talented writers. It is one of the great privileges in my life. Michael Dickel is one of them: he uses language like layers of color in a complex painting — you can access experiences that you otherwise wouldn’t have. I’ve just preordered his upcoming collection, Nothing Remembers, from Finishing Line Press; poetry lovers, this is worth having.”

–Ina Roy-Faderman, author of 56 Days of August: an anthology of postcard poems

Proposed 100,000 Poets for Change World Conference in Salerno, Italy – 2020

“Would you be interested in going to Salerno, Italy for a 100 Thousand Poets for Change World Conference if we held another gathering at the end of May in 2020? 4 days, workshops, party, reception, tours, poetry readings, tour Pompeii, Amalfi boat cruise…” Michael Rothenberg, 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) cofounder



In June of 2015, poets and other artists from all over the globe gathered in Salerno, Italy for their first 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) World Conference organized by 100TPC Cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrión.  Michael is putting out feelers to see how much interest there would be in a another gathering to be held in 2020.  If this appeals to you, you can connect with Michael Rothenberg on Facebook HERE. Honestly, if I were able to travel, I’d be there faster than that fabled New York minute.

In 2015, I asked Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play) who attended the first conference to pull together a report for The BeZine.  We’ve included it here. I think it might help you get a better idea of what to expect.  The report is below the following info on Michael Rothenberg, Terri Carrión, and 100TPC.

– Jamie Dedes

Photo courtesy of Giaros under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.


c Michael Rothenberg, Big Bridge Publishing

Michael Rothenberg is an American poet, songwriter, editor, and active environmentalist. Born inMiami Beach, Florida, Rothenberg received his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Afterward, he moved to California in 1976, where he began “Shelldance Orchid Gardens”, an orchid and bromeliad nursery. In 2016, Rothenberg moved to Tallahassee, Florida. In 1993 he received his MA in Poetics at New College of California. In 1989, Rothenberg and artist Nancy Davis began Big Bridge Press, a fine print literary press, publishing works by Jim Harrison, Joanne Kyger, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen and others. Rothenberg is editor of Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry. Rothenberg is also co-editor and co-founder of Jack Magazine.

Terri Carrion, Big Bridge Publishing

Terri Carrión earned her MFA at Florida International University in Miami, where she taught Freshman English and Creative Writing, edited and designed the graduate literary magazine Gulfstream, taught poetry to High School docents at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami and started a reading series at the local Luna Star Café. In her final semester at FIU, she was Program Director for the Study Abroad Program, Creative Writing in Dublin, Ireland.poetry, fiction, non-fiction and photography has been published in many print magazines as well as online, including The Cream City Review, Hanging Loose, Pearl, Penumbra, Exquisite Corpse, Mangrove, Kick Ass Review, Exquisite Corpse, Jack, Mipoesia, Dead Drunk Dublin, and Physik Garden among others, including the recent anthology, Continent of Light. Her chapbook “Lazy Tongue” was published by D Press in the summer of 2007. A collaborative poem with Michael Rothenberg, “Cartographic Anomaly” was published in the anthology, Saints of Hysteria, A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry. Her most recent project is a collaboration with F.R Lavandeira and Loreto Riveiro on a trilingual Galician Anthology, (from Galician to Spanish to English)

“100 Thousand Poets for Change, or 100TPC, is an international grassroots educational organization focusing on the arts, especially poetry, music, and the literary arts. It was founded in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, and focuses on a worldwide event each September.” Wikipedia MORE


MICHAEL DICKEL’S REPORT ON THE 2015 CONFERENCE

Salerno, il mio amore

100TPC World Conference Banner
100TPC World Conference Banner
Santa Sofia Complex, Salerno, Italy
Santa Sofia Complex, Salerno, Italy
Inside the Santa Sofia Complex
Inside the Santa Sofia Complex

June 3, 2015, the afternoon after I arrived in Salerno, Italy, I found my way up to the Santa Sofia Complex, an old church on a square with a fountain.The first 100-Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) World Conference would begin with an opening reception in the evening. In the complex, I met Terri Carrion, one of the co-founders of 100TPC and co-organizer of the conference. She told me that her partner, Michael Rothenberg, was around the corner at a cafe meeting one of the writers who had just arrived from Macedonia.

Poets gathered at tables in a cafe, Salerno, Italy, 100TPC World Conference
Poets gathered at tables in a cafe, Salerno, Italy, 100TPC World Conference

After helping Terri and Valeriano Forté, a Salerno poet and 100TPC organizer, assemble some tables in our meeting room, I wandered down to the cafe. Several poets gathered at tables in excited conversation. Michael was with Mitko Gogov, the poet from Macedonia. Others were from the U.S., Mexico, Hungary, Germany (via the U.S. and Rome), Greece, Malaysia, and France. And this was just the beginning. All of the people at the cafe then I now count among new-found friends, along with many more that I met during the following week.

Aqueduct Salerno, Italy
Aqueduct
Salerno, Italy

Imagine, if you can, more than 80 poets from all over the world—every continent, 33 countries. Imagine poets from every generation, spoken-word artists, poets with books or no book, all come together to share the spirit of poet-activists, as 100TPC organizers. Now imagine us all talking about poetry, about arts and activism, women’s issues, oral versus print traditions, and organizing—with interpreters translating into Italian and English. That’s how our four conference days were (mostly) spent.

Alfonso Gatto Poem Detail from mural in Salerno
Alfonso Gatto Poem
Detail from mural in Salerno

Those were scheduled topics. Another one came up—artists’ international mobility. Several poets had their visa requests turned down by their home countries or Italy. So we rejoiced when three poets from Egypt finally received their visas at the last minute and arrived during the conference. Some who could not make it joined us virtually by posting to social media. For the next conference, we plan to be more prepared for this issue, and to have both advice and, if we can raise them, funds to assist people.

View of Salerno
View of Salerno

The days tended to serious dialogue on sustainability, peace and justice. The evenings (and a couple of afternoons) overflowed with poetry. Each evening, several poets read as “scheduled” readers, usually after dinner. Then came the open mic—which ranged from raucous readings to a quiet “campfire” around candles to a poetry walk from the complex to the sea. The open mic that I co-hosted with a poet living in Malaysia and a Ghanian poet was in a restaurant, the last reading of the conference.

Light and Shadow Along a Salerno Street
Light and Shadow
Along a Salerno Street
Street Art, Salerno
Street Art, Salerno

And what of Salerno? Salerno won our hearts—an old city with a castle overlooking it that once was ruled by a warrior-princess; the home of Alfonso Gatto, an Italian poet whose poetry appears in murals by contemporary artists all over the town via the Alfonso Gatto Foundation (a sponsor of the conference); a town nestled between mountains of alleyways, stone walls, beautiful squares and the sea; a song of bells, sea gulls, swallows; a haven for street artists and poets.

Arch and Tree Salerno, Italy
Arch and Tree
Salerno, Italy

The night following the end of the conference, many of us still in Salerno took over most of a small restaurant around the corner from the Santa Sofia Complex. Not wanting to let go of our transformative week of amazing global poetry, we began an impromptu reading, some reading from books of others, some reading our own work. A couple from the town, not part of our conference, sat at one of the tables listening, and then the man asked if he might read some of his work in Neapolitan. He recited his work, then line by line he read the Italian with someone translating into English. Poets attract poets.

So, in two years, we plan to return. Writer-artist-activists reading this, perhaps you’d like to join us?

Looking out the door Santa Sofia Complex
Looking out the door
Santa Sofia Complex

– Michael Dickel

© 2015, article and photographs, Michael Dickel, All rights reserved


Michael Dickel (c) 2018, Photo credit Zaki Qutteineh

MICHAEL DICKEL a poet, fiction writer, and photographer, has taught at various colleges and universities in Israel and the United States. Dickel’s writing, art, and photographs appear in print and online. His poetry has won international awards and been translated into several languages. His chapbook, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism came out from Locofo Chaps in 2017. Is a Rose Press released his most recent full-length book (flash fiction), The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, in 2016. Previous books: War Surrounds Us, Midwest / Mid-East, and The World Behind It, Chaos… He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36(2010). He was managing editor for arc-23 and arc-24. With producer / director David Fisher, he received an NEH grant to write a film script about Yiddish theatre. He is the former chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. Meta/ Phor(e) /Play is Michael’s blogZine. Michael on Social Media: Twitter| FaceBook Page | Instagram | Academia

2000 individuals and groups around the world call for peace, justice and sustainability and engage the new 100 Thousand Poets for Change initiative “Read A Poem To A Child!”

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.

Michael Rothenberg 


Michael Dickel (c) 2018, Photo credit Zaki Qutteineh

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

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER – Let’s Do It!

“Pithy and powerful, poetry is a popular art form at protests and rallies. From the civil rights and women’s liberation movements to Black Lives Matter, poetry is commanding enough to gather crowds in a city square and compact enough to demand attention on social media. Speaking truth to power remains a crucial role of the poet in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse.” MORE, Poetry Foundation



OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS, I’m inviting all Facebook friends – and this post is an open invitation – whether you are poets or not – to Like 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change 2018 GLOBAL EVENTOf course, there’s no obligation to do so, however given the state of the world at this time, it’s important to throw our energy and support behind this effort. It sends a message to those who . . . 

  • use their power to harm people, culture and environment,
  • to the folks on the run who don’t know we care, and
  • to each other that we are together – have one another – in support of PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY & SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Really I think we outnumber the bad guys. We just don’t get the press. We have to make our own. 


FROM MICHAEL ROTHENBERG:

“Do you want to join other poets, musicians, artists, mimes, dancers, photographers, performing artists, clerics, and friends of the arts around the USA and across the planet in a demonstration/celebration of poetry to promote serious social, environmental, and political change?

“September 29th is the global 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day, 2018!

“This is our 8th year!

“If you would like to organize an event in your community, join us here and write to us directly to register your event at

Sign up:
http://100tpc.org/sign-up/

– Michael Rothenberg, Co-founder of 100TPC with Terri Carrion


UNIQUE EVENT AS PART OF 100,000 POETS (and friends) for Change 2018, Global

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) / Play) and others are organizing a 100TPC event in Jerusalem during Sukkot this year. Sukkot is a harvest holiday celebrated in temporary structures (a sukkah, singular; sukkot, plural) to commemorate the time when the Jews wandered in the wilderness. It is traditional to eat meals and sleep in the sukkot during the week of the holiday. The plan is to offer poetry, shared food, and comfort in one or more sukkah in Jerusalem in the spirit of peace, justice, and sustainability. More details to come. This year Sukkot ends during 100TPC weekend.

Connect with Michael HERE on Facebook for more information if you want to help with and/or attend the Sukkot event. You can also leave a message for Michael Dickel here at The BeZine blog in the comments section below. I’ll make sure he sees it.

Non-Jews living in and near Jerusalem are welcome.

This event in Jerusalem suggests another way to organize around 100TPC, which could be emulated elsewhere. What holy days or feast days are celebrated in your tradition near September 29, 100TPC Global 2018? Or, do as Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) did one year: 100,000 Peacemakers for Change. Egypt did 100,000 Mimes for Change. There have been 100,000 Drummers for Change … and Musicians and Photographers as well. All these registered their events with 100,000 Poets for Change. Our only limits are a lack of energy, imagination and passion, so rev up your engines and let’s do it …

Let’s do it … and, let’s get the word out with Joy! Gratitude! Caring! Sharing!

If you are organizing a registered 100TPC event in your area, I’m happy to include details about your event on The Poet by Day if you send your announcement to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com

– Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

Autumn milkweed

When I die, bury my body
amid a pile of leaves,
then go home.
Plant clematis vines along fences,
fill the rest of your yard
with only native flowers
that will desire compost—
tend them lovingly,
as though you had cared for me.

—Michael Dickel
©2007


This poem is in the forthcoming collection of Michael Dickel’s poetry, Nothing Remembers.

Originally published online in: Abramelin: the Journal of Poetry and Magick. E.V. 2(1) Winter (2007).

Thanks to Tereza Joy Kramer for helpful comments and edits.

HEADS-UP POETS AND POETRY LOVERS in and around Hamilton Ontario: Save-the-Date, The BeZine Contributing Editor, Michael Dickel reading


 

MICHAEL DICKEL a poet, fiction writer, and photographer, has taught at various colleges and universities in Israel and the United States. Dickel’s writing, art, and photographs appear in print and online. His poetry has won international awards and been translated into several languages. His chapbook, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism came out from Locofo Chaps in 2017. Is a Rose Press released his most recent full-length book (flash fiction), The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, in 2016. Previous books: War Surrounds Us, Midwest / Mid-East, and The World Behind It, Chaos… He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36(2010). He was managing editor for arc-23 and arc-24. With producer / director David Fisher, he received an NEH grant to write a film script about Yiddish theatre. He is the former chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. Meta/ Phor(e) /Play is Michael’s blogZine Michael on Social Media: Twitter | FaceBook Page | Instagram | Academia  Michael is also an a member of The BeZine core team.

Our virtual “live” 100,000 Poets (and friends) for change event …. The Countdown Begins now AND YOU’RE INVITED

Well, the Zine’s virtual “live” 100TPC Master of Ceremonies, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play), is doing the event from the Midwestern U.S. this year, not Israel, and I’m here in Northern California as back-up.

We have just a few hours to go before we begin The BeZine 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, 2017 (100TPC), our biggest event of The BeZine year.  Do join us and bring your reading glasses and your work suggestive of peace, sustainability and social justice. Michael will get us started and I’ll be on hand to help put a wrap on things. We’ll run at least 24 hours to make it convenient for you to participate no matter where in the world you live.

You may have missed some of these posts that will clarify what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and how you can participate. Here are two posts that you’ll find helpful:

See you later at The BeZine blog!

Jamie Dedes
Managing Editor, The BeZine
on behalf of Michael and The Bardo Group Beguines


Silence i — Warm Blanket of Silence

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.”

—Ted Bowman
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)

CALLING ALL POETS, WRITERS, ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS: We Need Your Most Passionate Work

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-Isreali Poet, Michael Dickel

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,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor
The BeZine

Soil Isn’t Sexy …. Neither Is War

A dirty argument for sustainability, social justice, and peace

In the late 1980s, one of my guests on a community radio program I hosted came from a soil conservation group. She discussed the importance of soil—healthy, living soil, not chemically-supported but dead soil. She emphasized the importance of developing organic farming and turning back the trend of agribusiness mass farming that depleted soils and then added chemicals back to support the plants—but did nothing for the living soil.

She admitted that “talking about dirt isn’t sexy,” and that her group had a lot of work to do to get people’s attention. A friend of mine told me after the show, which he had listened to, that she was right. Dirt isn’t sexy.

Soil may not be sexy but treating it well could help solve climate change.

Ignoring it could lead to our extinction.

Do I have your attention?


Cracked soil by a village in Iran abandoned by farmers because water reserves ran dry due to overuse. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images
Cracked soil by a village in Iran abandoned by farmers because water reserves ran dry due to overuse. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Now, 30 years later, The Guardian has run an article about soil as “the best shot at cooling the planet.” In it, Jason Hickel discusses an overlooked, “… simpler, less glamorous solution…” to climate change:

“It has to do with soil…40% of agricultural soil is classed as ‘degraded’ or ‘seriously degraded.’ In fact, industrial farming has so damaged our soils that a third of the world’s farmland has been destroyed in the past four decades.”

Industrialized forestry and agricultural practices have largely depleted organic material from the soil. The organic materials give the soil life. They also lock in carbon dioxide—second only to the oceans in its ability to do so. Hickel writes that soil “holds four times more carbon than all the plants and trees in the world.”

While dirt is not sexy, it is incredibly important.

Hickel goes so far as to say the science about regenerating soil is exciting:

“Scientists and farmers around the world are pointing out that we can regenerate degraded soils by switching from intensive industrial farming to more ecological methods – not just organic fertiliser, but also no-tillage, composting, and crop rotation. Here’s the brilliant part: as the soils recover, they not only regain their capacity to hold CO2, they begin to actively pull additional CO2 out of the atmosphere.”


A few years after the radio show, the novelist Nurrudin Farrah and I listened to a National Public Radio program while driving somewhere in the Twin Cities. The man being interviewed spoke extensively about economic colonization of farming in “underdeveloped” countries. He argued that hunger and poverty in the “Third World” was not about a lack of capacity to produce food or other necessities, but about multi-national corporations paying for crops they could sell for maximum profits in the “Developed World” and a system that then sold the farmers food they could have grown instead.

Farrah, a “post-colonial” author exiled at the time from Somalia, turned to me and said, “This man knows what he’s talking about.” The “development” that the U.S. and Europe pushes is an economic colonization of the so-called “under-developed” countries, he explained. The process of “Globalization” serves to develop pipelines of resources to multinational corporations, to develop markets to sell back those resources in the form of those corporations’ products (the push for “open markets”)—and simultaneously to develop cheap-labor markets to do the processing.

It is all about profits, not about providing for the economic needs of the people living there. Or anywhere. It is not about developing the countries into stronger systems for their citizens. It is about taking. Depleting. Degrading. As we are doing with the soil.

Agribusinesses push large corporate farming (and de-forestation) in order to profit share-holders—they have little interest in food production or sustainability per se. Farmers around the world who could grow food for their families and neighbors are pushed to grow cash crops—sugar cane and pineapple are two prominent examples. Beef cattle are grown on deforested lands, with the meat going to developed countries’ groceries and restaurants, with the fast food industry a huge consumer. Cotton is a major crop in some Middle Eastern countries. Cotton fields do not produce food, and do not produce cotton for local clothing needs but for high-thread count sheets and other luxury items sold in other countries.

If the farmers want food and clothing, they need to buy it from other multinational corporations.

This story is well known. It is not unlike the trade triangle England set up between itself, its Caribbean colonies, and its North American colonies. It is run by capitalists now, not governments, but the capitalists often control the local governments. Increasingly, the capitalists influence and control the national governments globally, in both the “developed” and “developing” countries.

This influence includes fighting against environmental regulations.

The “regenerative” farming practices Hickel writes about will not be easy to implement, especially against the will of corporate interests. They could lead to more economic justice globally, deriving from local farmers producing agricultural products for local consumers. This change won’t come about without a fight, though.


That’s half the story. A major effect of the economic displacement that this “development” has on the citizens of the country has been displacement of people.

More and more people move to urban centers, seeking income with which to pay their way into the system. There are increasing social and economic pressures as people press into the cities, increased competition that often fractures along ethnic, racial, and religious division. And increased armed conflict.

The other half of the story of the degradation of healthy soils is war. War results from it. War causes it. And right now, the world is at war.


Last year, almost to the day as I write this, the Middle East and North Africa choked on dust from September 6th to the 9th. An “unusual” storm disrupted normal living, even shutting down the Syrian air force. “The influx of dust triggered a rash of canceled flights, closed ports, and a suspension of daily activities for many people,” according to “Dust Storm,” an article on NASA’s Earth Observatory website.

The street where I live, Sept. 8, 2015
The street where I live, Sept. 8, 2015

People died. The pollution count for Jerusalem was 173 times normal, and the Environmental Protection Ministry in Israel advised everybody to stay inside, according to an article in The Times of Israel. Temperatures also rose to higher than normal, over 100 in Jerusalem in September.

dust-1-web
Out my apartment window

If you don’t know the Middle East, you might imagine that dust storms like this occur daily, weekly, or at least monthly. They don’t. Not like this. I’ve lived in Jerusalem almost ten years now, and I have experienced dust storms. None was this intense. And dust storms are more common in the Spring.

This 2015 storm was unusual for many reasons—scale, intensity, timing, and accompanying heat.

sept-8-storm-map-web
NASA Satellite image Sept. 8, 2015

And, as it turns out, its roots likely were in degraded farming lands related to both climate change and war. And all of this is instigating not only dust storms, but quite possibly the humanitarian crisis of the displaced refugees.


Six month before this particular storm, in March 2015, Craig Welch wrote Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian War, Study Says, for the National Geographic website. It opens with this paragraph, which should give us all pause:

“A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, according to a new study published Monday.”

The authors of the study from The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recognize that many social and political factors contributed to the civil war, of course. However, they “compiled statistics showing that water shortages in the Fertile Crescent in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey killed livestock, drove up food prices, sickened children, and forced 1.5 million rural residents to the outskirts of Syria’s jam-packed cities—just as that country was exploding with immigrants from the Iraq war,” according to Welch.

The severity of the drought and other weather conditions, according to their data, was outside the normal variability of weather in the region.

The social and economic pressures of the urban influx caused by soil degradation likely related to climate change, was probably a major contributing factor to the conflict that has been going on for years now, displacing millions of refugees.

While there are limits to the study, and perhaps the civil war would have erupted had there been no drought—the fact remains that the drought, at the least, increased tensions and the numbers of refugees.

This complicates the arguments about whether the refugees are economic, political, or war refugees. Depending where they come from, they could be all three.

And the three are interwoven—from the economic system that encourages farming practices that degrade the soil, to climate change-drive droughts, to the political climate in the region, there are many lines of connection and interconnection.

The need for sustainability, social justice, and peace weaves throughout this story of soil.


NASA Satellite image Sept. 7, 2015
NASA Satellite image Sept. 7, 2015

Some called the September 6–9, 2015, sandstorm “unprecedented.” It was.

A month after the storm, Zafrir Rinat reported in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, that “Israeli scientists this week confirmed that one factor behind the heavy dust storm that hit the Middle East recently is changes in the use of land in northern Iraq and Syria.”

Two factors were identified—a decrease in farming in Northern Syria, which had preceded even the recent drought, and “military activity, which has caused harm to the soil crust in Syria.” In other words, the already drought-hardened soil was further degraded by tanks, artillery, trucks, bombs pulverizing it.

Instruments recorded the largest dust particles for a storm in that twenty-year time period since they have been in use.

Winds picked up the violated soil. And as they moved along, a dust storm of unprecedented proportions hit the region.

The storm of soil degradation could wipe us all out.


This is not a sexy story. It is, though, an important one.

—Michael Dickel

The Poet as Witness: “War Surrounds Us,” an interview with Contributing Editor, Michael Dickel

5182N5cYeEL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_“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

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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.

A1oKsOxRrJL._UY200_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.

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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.

Michael will host The BeZine‘s virtual 100TPC this 26 September 2015.

Poems from War Surrounds Us:
Again
Musical Meditations
The Roses

TLV1 Interview and Poetry Reading on YouTube

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

FOR POETRY MONTH: Meaning and Pleasure … featuring Michael Dickel and Myra Schneider

It’s great to get a poem or story published. It’s about income and getting read and for some it’s validation as well. These are all important (even vital), but I was reminded recently that our poetry and other writing is about so much more.

In the introduction to the March issue of The BeZine, themed Science in Culture, Politics and ReligionContributing Editor Michael Dickel wrote:

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

“The title of David Cooper’s book on Kabbalah invites us to re-think the Creator as Creating: God is a Verb. While I don’t want to equate science to God in a religious sense, I want to borrow this re-conception. Science is creative, creating, if you will, knowledge of the world. Science is a verb.”

 

Jamie Dedes

A friend of mine came to visit and glowed when she told me she’d read Michael’s introduction. God is a Verb and Science is a verb popped out at her. Something she’d been struggling with suddenly fell into place. Other company arrived and I wasn’t able to get further explanation. I’m pleased but not surprise with her reaction to Michael’s piece. It demonstrates the power of words to bring joy, clarification and healing.

My own recent experience: a few people commenting or emailing me saying my post here – not with a bang but a whimper – helped release needed tears.

On another occasion in woman in Scotland wrote to say she’d read my poem – Wabi Sabi – to her wabi sabi group.  They found it inspiring. Wow! While I do need my payments, it’s this sort of thing – this human connection – that is satisfying right down to the marrow of my bones.

Poetry is also important as an entry point into sacred space for both artist and audience.  This is motivation for everyone to practice their art, whether professionally or as amateur, which is not a pejorative. I’m sure many of you – if not all of you – know what I mean.  There’s a shift that happens. Sometimes it feels more like channeling than writing. The experience is illuminating, healing and peaceful. An unexpected insight often arrives just when you need it.

Our job as poets and writers goes even further: we bear witness, we give voice to the voiceless, and we observe and commemorate.

English Poet Myra Schneider at her 80th Birthday celebration and the launch of her 12th collection

Myra Schneider said in an interview HERE, that “I believe the role of the poet is to reflect on human experience and the world we live in and to articulate it for oneself and others. Many people who suffer a loss or go through a trauma feel a need for poetry to give voice to their grief and to support them through a difficult time. When an atrocity is committed poems are a potent way of expressing shock and anger, also of bearing witness. I think that the poet can write forcefully, using a different approach from a journalist, about subjects such as climate change, violence, abuse and mental illness and that this is meaningful to others. I very much believe too that poetry is a way of celebrating life. I think it deserves a central place in our world.”

So, as we celebrate poetry this month, be sure to give yourself time to read and write … for the sake of your spirit and for the rest of us too.

Please join us at The BeZine on April 15th for our special interNational poetry issue. Michael Dickel is the lead editor.

© Each of the personal photographs belongs to the poet pictured, all rights reserved.

– Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR MICHAEL DICKEL, featured at poetry reading in St. Cloud, MN

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If you live in or around St. Cloud, MN, don’t miss the opportunity to see and talk with Michael Dickel tomorrow night.  Michael is visiting the U.S. but he’ll be headed back to Israel soon.

Wednesday, October 5 at 6:30 PM – 8 PM in CDT
Cream City Tattoo Gallery, 11 6th Ave N, St Cloud, MN 56303-4746, United States

Music— 6:30 Dean Severson doing guitar
Words—7:00 Michael Dickel doing poetry

American-Israeli poet Michael Dickel will read from his collection of poetry, War Surrounds Us, while surrounded by the Surreal Deal show of artist Jerry Ingeman —whose work graces the cover of the collection and will be on display. Jerry and Michael might chat a bit about art, poetry, and the meaning of life. Or not. Book will be available for purchase and autograph. Michael will also read one or two works from his forthcoming book, The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden.

RELATED FEATURES:
• Poem and analysis by Vivian Eden: Haaretz, Israel. Poem of the Week Recycled Violence: The World Has Gone Mad Again. (online: http://bit.ly/1NwUf6R)
Review and interview by Jamie Dedes: The Poet by Day— The Poet As Witness: “War Surrounds Us,” an interview with American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel (text: http://bit.ly/1IcMLyj)
• Interview by Laura Shovan: Author Amok: World Poetry Series (text: http://bit.ly/1JeOMe7)
• Interview by Laura LaMarca: Johntext United Kingdom (text: http://bit.ly/1GdJxjC)
• Interview by Ilene Prusher, Let’s Get Lit: “War Surrounds Us” on TLV1.FM (podcast: http://bit.ly/1JQJb25)

INVITATION …. and reminder

City Birds
City Birds

Here today is an invitation/reminder to join us –  The Bardo Group Bequines – at The BeZine for 100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) for Change (100TPC): on September 15th for the Zine and on September 24th for the 100TPC virtual event, which is celebrated from our blog.  The themes for both are Environment and Environmental Justice.

Priscilla Galasso is the lead for the Zine in September.

Michael Dickel is the Master of Ceremonies for our 100TPC virtual event.

These are worthy efforts to:

  • help steer public discourse in a productive direction,
  • define issues and suggest possible solutions,
  • encourage consensus for the environmental and social good, and
  • connect people and raise the general consciousness.

Please do participate. All work will be archived on site and at Stanford University.

Zine submissions should be sent to bardogroup@gmail.com. Please read submission guidelines first. The deadline is September 10th.

Reader participation on the 24th for the virtual event is by way of the comments section or Mister Linkey. Michael will provide direction in his blog-post that day.

More detail is included in: If We Were Rioting in 120 Countries, You’d See Us on the 6 P.M. news: We’re not, so here’s everything you need to know about 100TPC.

Also of note, Michael Rothenberg, cofounder of the 100TPC global initiative, reminds everyone today that it is not too late to register as an organizer of an event.  While ours is a virtual event, people all over the world in 120 countries to date are sponsoring events in homes, schools, places of worship, cafés and restaurants, parks, community centers and other sites where people gather. Link HERE to register.

By way of warm-up, this Wednesday and next, I’ll post prompts on The Poet by Day related to the themes. 

In the Spirit of Peace, Love and Community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie

© photograph, Jamie Dedes

April 2016, Vol. 2/Issue 7 ~ Celebrating Poetry Month

15 April 2016
Poetry Month

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

I. The Burial of the Dead

APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten.
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.…

A tidal wave of poetry, perhaps.

Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor

While Eliot declares the cruelty of April, April also happens to be National Poetry Month in the United States and Canada. In our online, social media world, it has become an international celebration of poetry as well. To join in this celebration, we in the Bardo Group Beguines dedicate the April issue each year to poetry. Many of us who write regularly for The BeZine are poets, and we usually include poetry. So, for us, it is a happy celebration—nothing cruel about it!

And what a wide-ranging celebration we offer in the 2016 National Poetry Month The BeZine issue! W. B. Yeats is oft quoted as saying, “What can be explained is not poetry.” So I won’t explain. I will tell you that Terri Muuss’ poem, “Thirteen Levels of Heaven,” takes you far and wide in a few grains of sand. “The Other Woman,” Imen Benyoub’s heart-wrenching poem, is not who you think—but in the current global storm of conflict and national political climate, indeed, she is Other. Michael Rothenberg’s “Poem for Mitko” personalizes the news we hear by imagining its impact on our mutual friend, Macedonian poet Mitko Gogov.

What these three featured poems have in common is their ability to take the intimate, the personal, the real moments of every day life, and reflect in and from them larger issues of humanity and life. Each describes very specific, personal scenes. According to Joy Harjo, “It’s possible to understand the world from studying a leaf.” And all of these poems open our eyes wide to the world. Sharon Olds tells an interviewer about poets she admires: “Their spirits and their visions are embodied in their craft. And so is mine.” And so are the spirits and visions of the authors gathered here.

“It may also be the case that any genuine work of art generates new work,” Donald Barthelme tells us in a Paris Review interview. As you read the poems, essays, interviews, and reviews in this month’s issue, I imagine that they will generate new art for you. Whether the art of living, the art of knowing others, or “the Arts,” you will want to do more of it after reading what we offer this month.


Last year, the Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN) collaborated with The BeZine during April to present poetry from the SLN. In this year’s issue, you can read more about the network in “SECOND LIGHT NETWORK, showcasing the ambitious poetry of ambitious women.”  Jamie Dedes’ essay “POET, TEACHER, INSPIRATION: Dilys Wood and the Latter-day Saphos” also sheds light on Dilys Wood, founder of the SLN. This year, in my dual roles of contributing editor here at The BeZine and associate editor at The Woven Tale Press, I have served as liaison in a new collaboration. The works specifically from the collaboration appear in their own section in the table of contents below.

However, the whole issue represents collaboration—not only between the two publications, but between all of the writers. We work together, as a community. In putting this all together with Jamie Dedes and my Bardo Group Beguines and Woven Tale Press colleagues, I came to realize how many of the poets here I know personally—separately from these two publications. We all come from an organic online writing community. By organic, I mean through no organized effort or special social website.

After years of knowing Michael Rothenberg through email and Facebook, I only finally met him in person this past summer. Terri Muuss and I met at Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village, also years ago, where her husband, Matt Pasca (who also has appeared in The BeZine), Adeena Karasick, and I performed one lovely evening. All four of us keep in touch through Facebook now.

I met gary lundy a long time ago and have spent time together, including road trips and as roommates for a few months. However, most of our friendship has been sustained and maintained by email and online connections—dating back to before any of us had heard of Facebook. UK poet Reuven Woolley, Romanian poet Liliana Negoi, Natasha Head, as well as Jamie Dedes and the rest of the Bardo Group Beguines, I only know “virtually.” Until a few months ago, the same was true for The Woven Tale Press publisher and editor-in-chief, Sandra Tyler.

Today, the world of poetry, as with everything else, has transformed under the influences of technology and social media. Last year, I spoke to a graduate-student seminar about social media, poetry, and the latest wave of “democratization of poetry.” That discussion evolved into the foreword of The Art of Being Human, Vol. 14, which you can read in this issue as “(Social) Media(ted) (Democratic) Poetry.”

I won’t try to count how many waves of “democratic” trends in poetry have washed up on the beach. A couple of centuries ago, poets were concerned “just anybody” might write poetry, and they didn’t think that was such a good idea. Some probably still don’t. Free verse and the Beats in the mid-Twentieth Century have been associated with the idea, for better or worse, depending on who made the association.

Today, poetry slams usually involve actual voting, as do many online sites. Self-publishing has become easy and cheap, so anyone could have a book who wants to, now. As a result of all of this, editors—such as those putting together a special poetry issue—serve much more as curators than as the gate-keepers of old. So, we may be in one of the greatest ever waves of “democratic” poetry.

A tidal wave of poetry, perhaps.

Don’t worry. While it will wash over you and change you, you won’t drown. Enjoy the poetry, writing about poetry, and other work presented here for your celebratory pleasure!

“There is something in me maybe someday
to be written; now it is folded, and folded,
and folded, like a note in school.”
― Sharon Olds


Table of Contents

Featured

POEMS

ESSAYS, INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS

WOVEN TALE PRESS COLLABORATION

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK

IMG_9671CONNECT WITH US

Beguine Again, Spirtual Community and Practice

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

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.

Kudos …

  • American-Isreali poet, Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) (War Surrounds Us, Is a Rose Press, 2015) made .Kred’s “Most Influenctial Bloggers” list. Michael is a member of The BeZine core team and also the lead for our 100TPC project.
  • Cannoness to The Bardo Group Bequines (publishers of The BeZine), Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) completed the final interviews and gained a recommendation to become an ordained elder in full connection within the United Methodist Church! Look for news in May when the final vote of the full Board of Ordained Ministry affirms the recommendation.

strawberry red

The BeZine, 15 Sept. 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 11 (Poverty/100TPC) – Table of Contents with Links

15 September 2015

For the past five years, September has been the month of 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC). All over the world, poets (musicians, artists, and, yes, mimes) have organized events on or near a Saturday in September each of those years, this year, on the 26th. For this, the fifth anniversary of 100TPC, there are over 500 events scheduled throughout the world. The readers of, contributors to and publishers of The BeZine have participated with a virtual event in the past and will again this year on the 26th.

Meanwhile, The BeZine’s theme for September also supports the 100TPC call for peace, sustainability, and social justice, with our focus on poverty in general and homelessness in particular. This focus relates to social justice in an obvious way. Yet, how could we speak of sustainability without social justice? If we still have poverty and homelessness, what is sustained other than inequality? And, without social justice could there be peace? For that matter, could peace be sustained without both justice and environmental plus economic sustainability? Our choice is not to put one of these three above the other, but to recognize that all of these three important themes, necessary areas of change, interrelate in complex ways. So we chose one aspect to focus on, and in so doing, this issue clearly points to all three themes through the lens of poverty.

We open by featuring three incredibly powerful poems by Sylvia Merjanian, Refugee, Second Chance, and Collateral Damage. Refugee and Collateral Damage come from her collection, Rumor (Cold River Press—proceeds go to help Syrian refugees). Second Chance debuts here. These poems show the relationship of war to poverty, oppression, and sexual abuse. In reading these, one senses the immense personal costs of war, especially to women and children. They provide an important window into the staggering worldwide refugee crisis, currently the largest human migration since World War II. Refugees are homeless in so many ways, even when they have a house to live in. And, the world seems to conspire to keep them destitute.

That war directly and indirectly causes poverty does not surprise. You might not know, until you read James Cowles’ essay, The Roots of Institutionalized Poverty, that something called The Compromise of 1877, which ended the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era, provided the political and economic structures of poverty that continued strong through the Civil Rights Era and, in many ways, still exist today. Certainly we know that poverty is not new in the United States, and neither is homelessness. In this issue you will hear music of the Depression Era that sounds too familiar today. The first time I personally participated in an editorial process and writing publication related to homelessness was in 1989, for the University of Minnesota student paper, the Minnesota Daily. We produced a special finals’ week issue, Ivory Tower, dedicated to the theme.

Poverty and homelessness are evergreen issues historically, but issues also embedded in social and political complexity. They benefit the rich, whose economic system keeps most of the rest of us as, at best, “wage slaves,” and all too many of us in poverty, without enough to provide for basic needs or housing (including the “working poor,” who hold low-paying jobs while CEOs are paid record-breaking salaries and bonuses). Our second feature, Jamie Dedes’ poem, Some Kind of Hell to Pay, cries out against the structures of injustice, where the rich act as demigods and demagogues, and it asks of what use will all their riches be in the Hellish realm of the inevitable backlash from the marginalized and disenfranchised.

photo credit: Sharon Frye
photo credit: Sharon Frye

The poems, prose, photo essay, and art in the rest of the September BeZine will ask you to feel, to see with empathy, to hope defiantly, and always to resist the status quo. The writers often look beyond the borders of the U.S. or Western Europe to see the injustices of a world-wide economic system of war, greed and injustice that makes it difficult to live outside of its oppressive realities—and for those pushed out, the available choices do not sustain their lives, their dreams, or their spirits.

Yet, people live, they dream, and they hope with spirit—often in defiance, sometimes by dying (see John Anstie’s As if and Sharon Frye’s Jacob’s Ladder in this issue), sometimes by living despite all of the forces lined up against their lives. Victoria C. Slotto’s Homeless Man tells of a “destitute” man whose story reveals that he may in fact have the most rich life of any of us. Always, there is more than what we see.

Read these words. Think about the change that could help to heal creation as Michael Yost’s poem Who Am I to Judge and Michael Watson’s essay The Realm of the Unimaginable speak to. Remember the admonition to think globally but act locally. And, most of all, imagine.

Then, join us on 26 September 2015, on our blog. Add your own thoughts, your own poems, your own essays. Join in our virtual, worldwide 100TPC event from wherever you live. We will post a page with instructions on our blog on the 26th. The posts will go up live. And, after the 26th, we will organize and archive the event (see the 2013 and 2014 pages in the tabs at the top of the page).

—Michael Dickel, Jerusalem

My poem from the 1989 Minnesota Daily Ivory Tower

Soil

i
The plow cuts, disk or chisel?
How much of what lies below to bring up
leave exposed to dry in the wind?
What residue of last years’ crop
to leave upon the soil, cover over
to rot, return to the fertile land?

What fetish draws me along this furrow?
Street and curb meet here.  Step up or down into slime.
Dust, trash tossed around and dropped by the blind wind.
What fate ties strings to which embedded hooks,
Pulls my flesh forward forever forward towards the street?

The Spring fete begins, seeds in muck
anticipating dilettante dance of the chosen few.
Weed out the hungry whose appetite starves wind-pressed grain shafts;
water the rows of the obedient who face slick harvest,
brittleness in the searing sun and death with Winter.

I move, farmer in these city streets, man among the chaff,
I offer to fetch my elegant plow-tongue, to stop the wind,
describe the deep earth and the rotted residue, the dry grasses and newspaper
blown by, salvaged for shelter by the quick grasp of an old hand,
pulled on top of gray hair to keep rain out.

ii
I would pull the plow, but a voice from under the newspaper
covers my shoes in mud and mire.

    What d’you know ’bout
all this?
              He spit

from mown rye-stubble fields,
        fetid earthen face
          Cracked
crumbled
          creased

  Caressed once, long ago

     All you see’s a bum.
      Fuck you, you son of a whore.

At home I do not wash the dirt from me,
I scrape it off, place it in a box
with a key I open my belly and
secure the box within, sated.

The weeds fend for themselves

photo credit: Jamie Dedes
photo credit: Jamie Dedes

September 2015

Theme: Poverty

Lead Features

Rumor, Silva
Some Kind of Hell to Pay , Jamie Dedes

Articles/Creative Nonfiction

The Realm of the Unimaginable, Michael Watson
The Roots of Institutionalized Poverty in the Compromise of 1877,  James R. Cowles
Farming a Dancing Landscape, Priscilla Galasso

Poetry

As if, John Anstie

Why do you judge me?, Brian Crandall
Homeless, Brian Crandel
I Understand, Brian Crandall

Poverty Line, Sharon Frye
Jacob’s Ladder, Sharon Frye
Barometer of Bones (A Baltimore Teacher Remembers Freddie Gray), Sharon Frye

The Search, Joseph Hosch
Cold Comfort, Joseph Hesch

more Washington rumors, Charles W. Martin
five dollars and some change, Charles W. Martin

The H wor(l)d, Liliana Negoi

I Am Not Alone, Lana Phillips
Pulling Myself Up, Lana Phillips
Wounded Healer, Lana Phillips
Undeserving, Lana Phillips

~ Under ~, Corina Ravenscraft

Le Mendicant, Victoria C. Slotto
Homeless Man, Victoria C. Slotto

Who Am I to Judge, Michael Yost

Photo Story

Out in the World, Naomi Baltuck

Art

Mother and Child, Roy DeLeon, OSB

Special Feature
An Art Lesson with Leslie White … music by Grandpa Elliot

Music
nueva canción de Ameríca Latina
(the social justice music of Latin American) 

Sólo le pido a Dios (with translation and brief bio), Mercedes Sosa

from the Great Depression (1929-1941)

The Ghost of Tom Joad, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen
I Ain’t Got No Home, Woody Guthrie
Hobo Bill’s Last Train Ride, Merle Haggard
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, Rudy Vallee
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Bessie Smith

Contemporary

Democracy, Leonard Cohen

BIOS WITH LINKS TO OTHER WORKS BY OUR CORE TEAM AND GUEST WRITERS

FOR UPDATES AND INSPIRATION “LIKE” OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, THE BARDO GROUP/BEGUINE AGAIN

MISSION STATEMENT

Back Issues Archive
October/November 2014, First Issue
December 2014, Preparation
January 2015, The Divine Feminine
February 2015, Abundance/Lack of Abundance
March 2015, Renewal
April 2015, interNational Poetry Month
May 2015, Storytelling
June 2015, Diversity
July 2015, Imagination and the Critical Spirit
August 2015, Music

100,000 TPC 2015, Event Posters from Around the World

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As of this writing, there are well over 500 events scheduled around the world. To find an event near you or to register an event that you are organizing go to 100TPC.

Our own (Beguine Again and The Bardo Group) virtual event is scheduled to be held here at The BeZine blog on 26 September 2015. You are invited to join us by linking in your relevant work on poverty  (our theme this year) through Mr. Linky (directions will be included in the post that day) or simply by adding your link or your work in the comments.  You retain your own copyright.  All the links and works will be collected and posted in a Page at The BeZine and also archived at 100TPC.  Think about and prepare something you’d like to share so you can have your say and feature your own work.

To “meet” our host for that event, American-Israeli Poet Michael Dickel, link HERE.

To “meet” the founders of 100TPC, link HERE.

The Poet as Witness: “War Surrounds Us,” an interview with American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

Editors note: The theme for our September issue is poverty. It is part of our 100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) for Change event (change being peace and sustainability) to be held here as a virtual event on 26 September 2015. Michael Dickel takes the lead on this project and the September issue. Here’s an opportunity to get to know him better. Michael’s vision: “… hope must/ still remain with those who cross/ borders, ignore false lines and divisions/” is consistent with the mission of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group, publishers of The BeZine.  The September issue will post on the 15th. J.D.

5182N5cYeEL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_“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

Jerusalem, Summer 2014: Michael Dickel and his family including Moshe (3 years) and Naomi (1 year) 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

Poems from War Surrounds Us:
Again
Musical Meditations
The Roses

TLV1 Interview and Poetry Reading

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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.

A1oKsOxRrJL._UY200_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. 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.

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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, 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.

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.

Michael will host The BeZine‘s virtual 100TPC this 26 September 2015.

Be the peace.

© 2015, book review, Jamie Dedes, 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

Conversations on Poverty and Homelessness (Part 2)~ The BeZine, 100,000 Poets for Change

On our 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty and homelessness.  I’m sharing some of the conversation there.  If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know.  All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation.  Instructions will be in our blog that day.  Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability. 

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This conversation was started on our The BeZine 100TPC 2015 Facebook Group Page by Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel):

It’s only a little more than a month until 100 Thousand Poets for Change—Fifth Anniversary—26 September! Time to start some provocations…

Just to get us thinking abou the Poverty Theme next month—this was posted in a FB group, “Philosophy,” a while back but just appeared in my timeline.

The question I have is, does the standing man reach into his pocket because of empathy? Does he see that the beggar could be him? Or is it narcissism, that he sees an extension of himself (rather than seeing the person himself as separate)? Is he only giving b/c it is another version of himself (white male)? Would he reach into his pocket if he saw the Other?

I don’t ask these questions to be cynical, but because I think the cartoon suggests all of this and possibly more. Who do we see when we see poverty? Who do we help? Who do we wonder why they are not “making something” of their lives (as one commenter on the posted photo said he would ask “himself”—the beggar self—in this situation)?

Jamie asked me to take the lead for the poverty-100TPC page, if I understood correctly, so consider this a first provocation. I hope to put out a couple of more in the next couple of weeks.

Are they prompts? Inspiration? Irritants? I like the idea of provoking thoughts, creativity, ideas. So I call them provocations. Mainly, just use what generates something for you, ignore the rest or all if you’ve got your own excitement rolling.

– Michael Dickel

Some of the discussion that resulted from Michael’s prompt follows:

“Would he reach into his pocket if he saw the Other?” Heartbreaking that we even have to ask. And we know the artist’s perspective, he is not seeing the other.” Terri Stewart (Beguine Again)

“I’d like to think in the spiritual sense he’s seeing himself but that is wishful thinking, eh? Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

“The ‘but for the grace of God, go I’ response. Maybe. I was more cynical…I was seeing the ego. Ego demands giving to look good. Ugh. I’ve been doing justice work too long.” Terri Stewart

“I think the cartoon suggest all of this—the empathy of “there but for the Grace of God” likely the intent of the artist. The ego the reflection in the mirror, and possibly also intent? Who knows, I guess about intent… and that sense of I will help those like me. And what about those not like me? Terri Stewart

The drawing is provocative. And privileged. And as such, regardless of intent, draws attention to our own privilege, those like me anyway, white male, sitting at my expensive computer writing on FaceBook, drinking good coffee, and not worrying about where my next meal will come from, just whether I can afford to install central AC.” Michael Dickel

What are YOUR thoughts? Please feel free to share them below.

The August issue of The BeZine will be published online on August 15. The theme for August is music.