May 24, 2018 § Leave a comment
“The principal defect of the industrial way of life with its ethos of expansion is that it is not sustainable. Its termination within the lifetime of someone born today is inevitable—unless it continues to be sustained for a while longer by an entrenched minority at the cost of imposing great suffering on the rest of mankind. We can be certain, however, that sooner or later it will end (only the precise time and circumstances are in doubt), and that it will do so in one of two ways; either against our will, in a succession of famines, epidemics, social crises and wars; or because we want it to—because we wish to create a society which will not impose hardship and cruelty upon our children—in a succession of thoughtful, humane and measured changes.” A Blueprint for Survival, 1972
May 21, 2018 § Leave a comment
May 21, 2018 § Leave a comment
I look everywhere for you, in tins and shoeboxes—
There are so many things I cannot find. I look and look.
A reel to reel with your name on the label gummed
to its centre, and a question mark.
Is it you?
I cut up your voice in C-control. Slip
the tape back and forth across the heads
to isolate a word, a breath
caught in the throat.
Meaning poured out of sound.
Slice it out. Tape it back again.
I can’t recall your face, your voice.
Tape your tongue.
How much I missed of you.
Tape your lips.
4 June. As she emerged from the ice, towards the very end, they used their fingers to work at the fabric on her body, to ease out her left arm without tearing off her skin. Her clasped hands, so. In this way it felt as if she were coming to life beneath their fingertips.
So I work your body in memory.
These barbaric methods.
4 June. They used cupfuls of hot water, to slow the spill of tiny artefacts
5 June. But I resist. I approach you sideways. A little at a time, over years. I write a line and score it out. Write another line. Delete it.
You recorded everything: the dopplering train whistle and the insects that woke at dusk. The man at the gas station who taught us how to say Tehachapi. The wind against the sides of the van where we sheltered at night.
You tell me, listen. You take my head in your hands, adjust my earphones, check the levels. A single insect, then a second, begins to sing. A chorus. Electric. This blue light. One group signalling to another across the land.
A train whistle approaches through the dusk. Enters me.
Two pieces of string
on her little finger —
March 15, 2018 § Leave a comment
PEN America writes:
STATUS: IN PRISON
Zehra Doğan, a Turkish journalist and artist, was sentenced on March 24, 2017 to two years and ten months in prison for creating a painting of a Turkish city heavily damaged by state security forces. Despite arguing that she made the painting as part of her work as a registered journalist, Doğan was charged with having connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting an insurgency against the Turkish government. PEN America condemns Zehra Doğan’s arrest and prison sentence as an unacceptable infringement of the right of both journalists and artists to free expression.
Zehra Doğan, an ethnic Kurd, was arrested on July 21, 2016 after producing the painting, which depicts the damage inflicted upon Nusaybin, a city close to the Syrian border and populated largely by Kurds. The city was besieged by bombardments in 2016 during a period of intense fighting between the Turkish military and the PKK. Ironically, Doğan’s painting was based on an image circulated on social media by the Turkish military itself in the aftermath of operations in Nusaybin. Doğan was released from Mardin Women’s Prison on December 9, 2016, pending trial.
During her trial in February 2017, Doğan argued that in producing a painting of a real-life event based upon a photo taken and disseminated by the Turkish military, she was carrying out her work as a journalist. Nonetheless, she was sentenced to two years, nine months, and twenty-two days in prison by the Second High Criminal Court of Mardin province. In a now-deleted tweet in the aftermath of her sentencing, she wrote that she “was given [a prison sentence of] two years and 10 months only because I painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. However, [the Turkish government] caused this. I only painted it.”
Prior to her imprisonment, Doğan worked as a journalist in Turkey. She served as a writer and editor for Jinha, a feminist news agency staffed entirely by women and publishing news articles in English, Turkish, and Kurdish. In 2015, she was given the annual Metin Göktepe Journalism Award for her series of articles about Yazidi women escaping from ISIS captivity. The award is named for Metin Göktepe, a journalist tortured and murdered in the custody of the Turkish police in 1996. She has not allowed her imprisonment to keep her from her journalistic pursuits, having set up the newspaper Özgür Gündem Zindan (Free Agenda Dungeon) alongside other women from within prison.
Doğan’s arrest and imprisonment take place against a backdrop of ongoing suppression of the media in Turkey, particularly in the aftermath of the attempted coup of July 15, 2016. Since a state of emergency was declared in the aftermath of the attempted coup, over 180 news outlets have been shut down and more than 150 journalists and media workers imprisoned, including Ahmet Şık, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak, and İnan Kızılkaya, reinforcing Turkey’s position as the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. Restrictions reached new heights in the lead-up to a crucial referendum on constitutional reforms aimed at significantly increasing executive powers. On April 16, 2017, the Turkish people voted by a narrow (and widely contested) margin in favor of the referendum and its sweeping constitutional changes.
October 28, 2017 § 7 Comments
(US Holocaust Memorial Museum)
“While languishing inside a grim Syrian prison, a small group of inmates etched the names of 82 prisoners onto scraps of cloth using a chicken bone, rust, and their own blood. They hoped the list would someday make it beyond the walls of the prison, serving as a testament to the atrocities wrought by the Syrian civil war. Thanks to the bravery and ingenuity of one former prisoner, the faded scraps were recently transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum…The remarkable documents were smuggled out of Syria by Mansour Omari, a 37-year-old human-rights activist. At the start of the war, Omari was working at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, where he was tasked with chronicling the cases of people who had been vanished by the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. In 2012, the organization’s office was raided and Omari was arrested. According to Avantika Chilkoti of the New York Times, he spent a year in several brutal detention centers, among them the notorious prison supervised by Maher al-Assad, the president’s brother.Although he had been robbed of his freedom and, as Witte reports, subjected to torture, Omari did not stop in his quest to document the horrors taking place in Syria. Aided by four other inmates, he worked to record the names of his fellow prisoners on swatches of fabric that had been cut from the backs of their shirts. They used broken chicken bones as pens, and created “ink” by mixing rust from the bars of their cells with blood from their gums.”
December 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
“Today poetry is largely ignored by literary studies because it forces the question of the category of the poetic as such, for poetry does not respond very well to current constructions of the ‘discipline’ of literary study, which emphasize the social, economic, or political determinants of literary production. Literary production may be so determined, but critical approaches to poetry from these angles cannot tell us much about the nature and function of poetic language, which may be said to be the marker of the literary, the presumed object of literary study. The form that the disciplinary censoring of lyric poetry takes today is a determined evasion of the special status of poetic language as such. Under the mandate to ‘historicize,’ for example, the lyric reduces to a documentary of the inner experiences and private affairs of a bourgeois ‘individual.’ The lyric is a foundational genre, and its history spans millennia; it comprises a wide variety of practices, ranging in the West from Sappho to rap. ‘Historicizing’ the lyric as essentially a late-eighteenth-and nineteenth-century European invention in effect universalizes a historically and geographically specific model of a subject. And the term ‘lyric,’ still used in this sense, has come to serve as an ideological weapon in the ongoing politicized poetry wars. Whether the lyric is read as oppositional or complicitous, it is still understood to be the self-expression of a prior, private, constitutive subject. Lyric language is a radically public language, but it will not submit to treatment as a social document – of a certain stage of capitalism, for example – because there is no ‘individual’ in the lyric in any ordinary sense of the term…”
–Mutlu Konuk Blasing, from Lyric Poetry: The Pain and the Pleasure of Words (2007)