Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Suheir Hammad at PalFest 2009

Thanks to Marcy Newman for posting on the Literature Festival happening in sites in Palestine these days. Her blog, Body on the Line, contains full descriptions and pictures of the event, as well as Newman's own vituperative prose.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Article: Israeli Police Close International Literature Festival in East Jerusalem

Monday, 25 May 2009 15:20 Elise Aghazarian, Alternative Information Center (AIC)
"Israeli Police Forcefully Close an International Literature Festival in East Jerusalem"

Israeli police officers forcefully closed the Palestine National Theater in East Jerusalem on Saturday, 23 May, where an event of the Second Annual Palestine Festival of Literature event was scheduled to be held. The festival included the participation of 17 internationally-known literary figures and an audience of local and international participants.

Among the guests at Saturday’s event were Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie screen-writer Deborah Moggach; Swedish writer Henning Mankell, accompanied by his wife Eva Bergman (daughter of world-wide notable film director Ingmar Bergman); Australian writer Carmen Callil (founder of Virago press); Claire Messud (long-listed for the 2006 Man Booker Prize for the novel The Emperor’s Children); Kenyan-Canadian writer M. G. Vassanji, author of The Assassin’s Song and holder of the Commonwealth First Book Prize; and Booker Prize short-listed authors Abdulrazak Gurnah and Ahdaf Soueif.

The police forced all the literary figures and participants to leave the theater.

This move came as a direct order from the Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovich, currently serving as a member of the Knesset for the right-wing nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party. The decision to stop the event was justified as falling under the scope of the “Jerusalem: Capital of Arab Culture” activities— an initiative undertaken by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which annually awards this title to what are considered outstanding cities of Arab culture. Due to the current Israeli government’s vision of Jerusalem as a capital of one nation, Israel strictly prohibits any of these events from being conducted in the city.

However, this festival is not directly connected to the “Jerusalem: Capital of Arab Culture” celebrations and is actually a sequel to last year’s International Festival of Literature, which included the visits of international literary figures to different parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories for literature auditions and poetry recitals. Among the patrons who have supported the starting of the festival last year were acclaimed South African writer Chinua Achebe, (the late) Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Irish Nobel prize laureate, Seamus Heaney, and (the late) British playwright, actor and screen-writer Harold Pinter.

This year’s International Festival of LIterature had been planned to start in Jerusalem, then move to Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron and Bethlehem, before moving back to Jerusalem on 28 May. The guests and audience, looking forward to the event, were shocked by the direct assault by the Israeli authorities. Despite the forced closure of the festival venue, the event was eventually conducted later that evening in the French Cultural Center, which provided a space for the festival and its literary expression.

From AIC site.

Monday, May 25, 2009

James Stotts on Instants

A new review by James Stotts of my chapbook, Instants, published by Ugly Duckling Presse. It begins:
muybridge’s photos are as iconic for art students as gray’s coloring book of human anatomy or as little, articulated wooden manikins.

i’ve known the details of his discovery of the lunging tread of the racing steed since i was a little boy. i’ve always known the frame-by-frame grids of his divers walking across a field of vision, wrestlers, panthers, buffalo, men and women, their quivering muscles.

it was a dream inherited by edgerton: to capture the erotic maneuvers of victoria with flashes of light; to invent the exact violence of fist to face, of a struck golfball, of a bullet passing through balloon, crystal, apple—all previsioned by muybridge’s cameras, muybridge’s gun.

and benjamin, with zoopraxis and germ fixed in his mind: the camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses. this was not retarded motion, but gliding evasions of gravity and time.

the voice is a little like frank bidart’s doing his esenin and cellini impressions, as metres does his best muybridge...

read on...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Literature's Weaponry

“We pay attention to literature’s weaponry, which is powerful enough to hide treason under the cover of ‘disgust with politics’—that is, with having to struggle—and also to claim sanctity and joy in dreaming”--Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetting, 138.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Talking Peace Poetry on Around Noon with Dee Perry

Here's a link to my appearance on "Around Noon with Dee Perry" yesterday on WCPN, in which I discuss war, peace, poetry, and Come Together: Imagine Peace. I appear in the last 15 minutes. After an initial fluster--Dee asks me how it all began (how much time do you have?!)--I found my feet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Poetic Memorials: "Facing It" by Yusef Komunyakaa and "At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border" by William Stafford

Today, I'll be on AROUND NOON with Dee Perry, (WCPN, 90.3 Cleveland), to read and talk a bit about Come Together: Imagine Peace and read a couple poems for Memorial Day. These are the poems I'll read, two poems that summon "monuments" and turn them into memorials.

In Yusef Komunyakaa's "Facing It," he faces the Vietnam Veteran Memorial wall and his own past, all that's buried within. In William Stafford's "At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border," he creates a monument that exists only insofar no one knows about it--that memorial to a peace which never makes it into the history books, so bathed in blood.

Yusef Komunyakaa: “Facing It”

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn’t,
dammit: No tears.
I’m stone. I’m flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way–the stone lets me go.
I turn that way–I’m inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap’s white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet’s image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I’m a window.
He’s lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.


"At The Un-National Monument Along The Canadian Border" by William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed-or were killed-on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

William Stafford Peace Symposium

I'm heading to Portland, Oregon, to participate in a reading and talk on William Stafford. Until then,

Another World Instead
William Stafford Peace Symposium

Portland, Oregon
May 14-16, 2009

Sponsored by: William Stafford Archives & Northwest Writing Institute, Lewis & Clark College,
Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, Friends of William Stafford, First Unitarian Church,
Northwest Film Center, and The Lamb Foundation. Poster drawings by Barbara Stafford-Wilson.


Thursday, May 14: Film Screenings
Whitsell Auditorium, Northwest Film & Video Center
1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205

7 pm. Featuring a premiere of the new Haydn Reiss film Every War Has Two Losers.
Tickets available at the door.


Friday, May 15: Writing Workshop & Poetry Readings
First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205

9 am—4 pm. Kim Stafford and Fred Marchant lead a poetry workshop in the spirit of William Stafford. For details, please contact Ashley Powers at: / 503-768-6043.

7 pm. Readings for reconciliation: Tim Barnes introduces Kim Stafford, Abayo Animashaun, Andrea Hopkins, Kirsten Rian, Dorothy Stafford, and other voices.


Saturday, May 16: Symposium
Free and open to the public. First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205

9 am—4 pm. Presenters include Fred Marchant, Jeff Gundy, Philip Metres, Mary Szybist, Doug Erickson, Paul Merchant.


For further details about the Saturday program, please contact Ashley Powers, at the Northwest Writing Institute ( / 503-768-6043) We invite you to register to insure a seat--though no one will be turned away. In addition, the William Stafford Archives ( would love to have a list of names and email contacts in hand as we approach our Saturday gathering.

Phyllis Bennis at CSU this Friday, on the Nakba (Catastrophe)

In recognition of Nakba (The Catastrophe) the 61st commemoration of the expulsion of the Palestinians to create the State of Israel in 1948 - PHYLLIS BENNIS, author and Jewish board member of the CAMPAIGN TO END THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION will speak Friday, May 15, 7PM at Cleveland State University, Main Classroom (MC) Room #134 Auditorium.

Event is free. Seating is limited; please reserve at or 440-623-0492. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee, Cleveland Peace Action, Beit Hanina Palestinian Social Club, Cleveland State University Muslim Student Association, Interfaith Council for Peace in the Middle East, the Free Gaza Coaltion, and the Middle East Peace Forum.

Phyllis Bennis is Director of The New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies; Board of Directors, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation - more

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of both TNI and the Insitute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. Phyllis is a journalist specialising in Middle East and United Nations issues. Formerly based at the United Nations, she has worked on US domination of the UN leading up to the Gulf War, economic sanctions on Iraq, international interventions and US foreign policy in the Middle East. The author and editor of books on Palestine, Iraq, the UN and the New World Order, her most recent publications are Ending the Iraq War: A Primer (Olive Branch Press, 2008), Understanding the US-Iran crisis: A Primer (Olive Branch Press, 2008), Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer (Interlink, 2007), Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN Defy US Power (Interlink, 2005), La Ideologia neoimperial: La crisis de EEUU con Irak (Icaria/TNI/CIP 2003), co-authored with Mariano Aguirre, and Before & After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis (Interlink, 2002).

Check our website for the latest news you won't find in the mainstream media, local events, current legislation, media contact information.

Join Cleveland Peace Action or renew your membership by using our secure online donation form - click here. Online donors will make a tax-deductible donation to the Cleveland Peace Action Education Fund.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thinking of Craig Arnold

Thinking of the poet Craig Arnold, presumed dead, after his disappearance in an island in Japan. Here's a video of him reading a poem.

Poetry Through the Ages

A guy named Michael Douma shares his website, "Poetry Through the Ages," which uses nodes as a way of presenting poetry and its sundry forms, traditions, apparatus, etc. It's an interesting technology, somewhat dizzying in its gyring wheels...

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Lang/scape" and "Langdscape": Thinking about Poetry in the World

Michael Leong sent me this: "I was re-visiting Rachel Blau Duplessis' drafts and "stumbled" upon the lines (from Drafts 68: Threshold):

Listen. You have stumbled across terrain and
Still could not escape this twisted langdscape."

For more on lang/scape, see this essay ...

I'm more and more interested in poetry that exists outside of the page, wherever it needs to happen.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Julia Stein's review of Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront Since 1941

Check out Julia Stein's two-part review of Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront, since 1941 (2007) on her blog.

Part I begins like this:
Philip Metres, English professor at John Carroll University, has written Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront Since 1941, the first important book of literary criticism about anti-war poetry of the last 70 years. Metres has also edited a poetry anthology Come Together: Imagine Peace (2008). Behind the Lines is an important book for all who care about U.S. literature and culture as Metres excavates a lost tradition of U.S. anti-war literature and anti-war culture.

Read the rest here.

Part II begins like this:

The last 2/3 of Phillip Metres book Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Home Front deal with this poetry from Vietnam through the Iraq Wars. The chapter "Bringing It all Home" wonderfully shows the range of poetry against the Vietnam War--poetry of witness, documentary poetry, visionary lyrics--as well the ways poets took their work into the world. Anyone concerned with poetry or any nonprofit art breaking out its marginality in U.S. culture should find this chapter fascinating.

And ends here:
Despite my quibbles, Metres' wonderful book has given a fine argument that war resistance poetry is central to U.S. poetry in the last 70 years. He shows us how leading U.S. poets from Lowell and Rexroth through Levertov, Balaban, Bly, Jordan, Baraka and many others have put dissent to U.S. wars at the central of their poetry making poetry not marginal crucial to our lives in 2009 as the U.S. now is engaged in three wars. Metres argues that U.S. poets from different traditions--personal lyric, African-American, performance, New Formalism, and experimental language school- have quarelled amongst themselves but all have produced strong poetries of war resistance. Metres' book is crucial for any understanding of 2009 U.S. literature.

Continue reading here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Replacements' "Unsatisfied"

The Replacements' "Unsatisfied" as better version of Lacanian desire. The grades are in. Time to cultivate desire.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Khalil Gibran: Local Boy Made Good": Guest Posting on Mike Chasar's "Poetry & Popular Culture"

Check it out: "Khalil Gibran: Local Boy Made Good" at Mike Chasar's "Poetry & Popular Culture" Blog.

Thanks to Mike for soliciting the piece, and to my Dad, for his mythopoesis and constant support. Mama Boulos, you're never forgotten.

Here's how Chasar prefaces the piece:
Poetry & Popular Culture correspondent Phil Metres reflects on the life and times of Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran, author of what's become the best-selling single volume of poetry in U.S. history. Of all the things Gibran was—a man, a legend, a local-boy-made-good, a salve for the spiritual homelessness of immigrant Arab Americans—he was also a guest at the Brooklyn Heights home of Metres's great- grandparents in 1927. Read on to find the full text of Gibran's thank-you letter to the Boulos family—and to discover the nation of prophets that The Prophet left in its wake.