Today I heard that blogger/journalist Truong Duy Nhat in Vietnam has been sent to jail for two years for "abusing freedoms to infringe upon the state's interests." He will be a prisoner of conscience. Freedom of speech is not a global right.
As the Ukraine tries to defend its sovereignty, as people prepare to die in the name of freedom, I am again puzzled over the seemingly tepid response to a global crisis by the art community.
Poets feel things deeply. We fall in love with the colours of dawn, the way a baby gurgles, the saxophone notes tumbling from an open window.
We want to write about lovers and the taste of a perfectly ripened peach.
We want to write about all the small things in our small lives... which is good, really. The tiny details of life are worthy of poetry, yes? And so are the rant-ibles, the annoying humans who nip at our heels like toy poodles looking for a bone to chew. Heal, beast!
There is real PERSONAL pain out there, as well. People have struggled with abuse, addiction, neglect, betrayal, lies, persecution, indifference, loneliness, self-loathing and these experiences can lead to personal triumph, introspection, change and deliverance. I think some of the best poetry I have read has stemmed from this kind of honest disclosure- what some would call confessional poetry.
A chum here once turned a mirror on me. He said that I was great at being an advocate, but that perhaps I should turn my talents to a broader view, advocate for the truly downtrodden. It was eye-opening. I did some soul-searching. Started to write about some difficult subjects
Though I still write of the truly personal, the joys and sorrows of being human, all the sensuality of worldly delights, ever since I took a deeper look into what I write and why I write it, I make sure to turn my attention to the news, force myself to research and then reveal deeper truths.
Look at the world today
Syria, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Sudan, the Ukraine, Somalia, Yemen.... civil unrest, war, conflicts, poverty, hunger
The working poor.
E-bola, AIDS, SARS, Flesh eating disease and bird flu.
The horrific condition of nuclear plants around the world.
Yellow... rubber ducks and baby blankets... yellow now linked to cancer...
You get the point. This list is just a start of the thousands of things we could write about, the injustices of the world, the brutality of mankind.
Once, poets were willing to be imprisoned for speaking out, for saying what others were too afraid to say. Some willingly went to the gallows, would only be silenced by a hangman.
So what about you?
Do you ever feel that you SHOULD use your pen to
open hearts and
that you should speak
for those who cannot speak?
Or are your busy writing about your first kiss, the souper you hate, bubblegum?
Oh, I know Your life is hard, you write poetry to chill out, you want to have happy thoughts, you don't need hardship-- you have had enough of it to last a lifetime, the area you live in is just as bad, just as war torn, why write about another country, someone else's pain and terrors, you just want--- sunsets and daiquiris
If I made you uncomfortable... good. Someone did the same for me. Bless him.
PS – my prayers for the people in the Ukraine. May the madness stop.