Monday, January 28, 2013

Empire: Hollywood's Symbiosis with the Military-Industrial Complex

I can't help but note that Marwan pronounces "the fog of war" in a way that makes it sound like "the fuck of war."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

another Split This Rock poem: "Pomegranate Means Grenade" by Jamaal May

Poem of the Week:   
Jamaal May          
Jamaal May

Pomegranate Means Grenade  

The heart trembles like a herd of horses.
--Jontae McCrory, age 11

Hold a pomegranate in your palm,
imagine ways to split it, think of the breaking
skin as shrapnel. Remember granada
means pomegranate and granada
means grenade because grenade
takes its name from the fruit;
identify war by what it takes away
from fecund orchards. Jontae,
there will always be one like you:
a child who gets the picked over box
with mostly black crayons. One who wonders
what beautiful has to do with beauty, as he darkens
a sun in the corner of every page,
constructs a house from ashen lines,
sketches stick figures lying face down-
I know how often red is the only color
left to reach for. I fear for you.
You are writing a stampede
into my chest, the same anxiety that shudders
me when I push past marines in high school
hallways, moments after video footage
of young men dropping from helicopters
in night vision goggles. I want you to see in the dark
without covering your face and carry verse
as countermeasure to recruitment videos
and remember the cranes buried inside the poems
painted on banners that hung in Tiananmen Square-
remember because Huang Xiang was exiled
for these. Remember because the poet Huang Xiang
was exiled for this: the calligraphy of revolt.
Always know that you will stand nameless
in front of a tank, always know you will not stand
alone, but there will always be those
who would rather see you pull a pin
from a grenade than pull a pen
from your backpack. Jontae,
they are afraid.

-Jamaal May

From Hum (Alice James Books, Nov 2013).
Originally published in Callaloo.
Used by permission. 

Detroiter Jamaal May is the author of Hum (Alice James Books, Nov 2013), winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award, as well as two poetry chapbooks (The God Engine, 2009, andThe Whetting of Teeth, 2012). His poems have been published widely with his most recent work appearing or forthcoming in Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Blackbird, Michigan Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast, The Believer andNew England Review. Honors include scholarships and fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Cave Canem, and Callaloo, as well as several nominations to both the Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets anthologies. Jamaal is a graduate of Warren Wilson's MFA program for writers and recipient of the 2011-2013 Stadler Fellowship from Bucknell University. In addition to being a finalist at several national and international poetry slams, he is a three-time Rustbelt Regional Slam champion and has been a member of six national poetry slam teams, including the 2012 semi-finalist NYC LouderARTS team.

In this DC this weekend? Check out Jamaal reading this poem and others as he features at Sunday Kind of Love with
Clint Smith this Sunday January 20th from 5-7pm at Busboys and Poets 14th & V location. Click here for more details!

Poem of the Week is a project of Split This Rock: Poetry of Provocation & Witness. Split This Rock is dedicated to integrating poetry into public life and supporting the poets who write and perform this vital work.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of theWeek widely. We just ask you to include all of theinformation in this email, including this request. Thanks!

If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.    

Poem of the Week Open Call  

Split This Rock began the Poem of the Week program in October 2009 as a way of publicizing the poets who were to be featured in the 2010 festival. We have since continued the series by featuring the work of participants of our festivals.

We are pleased to open the call up to any poet writing in the socially engaged vein -- festival participant or not.   

Visit our blog for specifics and submission guidelines. 
We look forward to reading your work!
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Opening the Gate of the Sun" by Adam Schatz

Opening the Gate of the Sun

 16 January 2013
Tags:  |  | 
At 2.30 on Sunday morning, the Israeli army removed 250 Palestinians from Bab al-Shams, a village in the so-called E1 corridor: 13 square kilometres of undeveloped Palestinian land between East Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank with a population of 40,000. Israel has had designs on E1 for more than a decade: colonising it would realise the vision of a ‘Greater Jerusalem’, and eliminate the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. After the UN vote to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state, Binyamin Netanyahu declared that Israel would build 4000 new settler homes in E1. The high court issued a six-day injunction against his order to ‘evacuate’ Bab al-Shams, but Netanyahu was in no mood to wait. Once the Palestinians had been driven out, the land was declared a closed ‘military zone’.
It was another bleak day in the story of Palestinians trying to hold onto their land in the face of Israeli expansionism. But it was also something else. Bab al-Shams was no ordinary village, but a tent encampment set up by Palestinian activists, a number of them veterans of the Popular Resistance Committees who have been organising weekly demonstrations against the ‘separation fence’ in the villages of Bil’in and Nil’in. Several journalists noted that the residents of Bab al-Shams used the same tactics as Israeli settlers: pitching their tents, laying claim to the land, establishing ‘facts on the ground’. But the differences were more significant than the resemblances. The pioneers of Bab al-Shams were Palestinians, not foreigners. When settlers establish wildcat outposts, they know that the authorities may chastise them for it but will nonetheless soon supply them with electricity and water, and even build roads and access routes on their behalf. The people of Bab al-Shams knew that an IDF demolition crew would appear in due course: less than three days, as it turned out.

Bab al-Shams took its name from Elias Khoury’s epic novel, published in 1998. In the book, Bab al-Shams (‘the gate of the sun’) is a secret cave where a Palestinian fighter, Yunis, and his wife, Nahilah, meet to make love. They turn it into ‘a house, a village, a country’. Nahilah calls it the only liberated part of Palestine. Khoury gave his blessing to the village of Bab al-Shams. ‘What these guys did in three days,’ he told me, ‘was they opened the Gate of the Sun and liberated a small part of Palestine.’
Khoury, a Lebanese Christian, joined Fatah as a young man, just after the 1967 war. Throughout the 1970s, he worked for the PLO’s Palestine Research Centre in Beirut, editing its monthly journal, Palestine Affairs, with his close friend, the late poet Mahmoud Darwish. Many Lebanese assumed he was Palestinian. The authority and intensity of Gate of the Sun, the work of a lifetime’s reflection on the Palestinian experience, led many reviewers in the West to make the same mistake when it was translated in 2005.
Khoury is accustomed to this sort of confusion. He did much of his research for Gate of the Sun in Lebanon’s refugee camps, where he collected oral testimony about the Nakba. At an event a few years ago at the London Review Bookshop, Khoury said that people in the camps would often claim to recognise themselves or people they knew in his novel, and wouldn’t believe him when he insisted that none of the characters had real-life models. Now, in the village of Bab al-Shams, he says, ‘the imaginary and the real have met in a way that is totally amazing.’ During the three days of Bab Al-Shams’s existence, he couldn’t sleep. ‘I wanted to go to the village but I only have a Lebanese passport, and you need an Israeli visa to enter, so I couldn’t.’ He spoke to the villagers on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday morning they were all gone, and Bab al-Shams had returned to the land of dreams.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kattywompus Press shout-out

I've been tagged on The Next Big Thing, but rather than promote my own work, I'd like to just give a shout-out to the tagger, Sammy Greenspan, and the work she's doing with Kattywompus Press, here in Cleveland. Sammy founded Kattywompus in 2010, inheriting the line of Greatest Hits chapbooks published by Pudding House (including poets such as Annie Finch and Thomas Lux), and has since published work by the likes of Nin Andrews, Cornelius Eady (forthcoming), and many other poets.  I was grateful to have her interest in and publication of "Ode to Oil," which came out in 2011, about which I've written elsewhere.

This is her post about her recent writing project:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Teju Cole's "Seven Stories about Drones" (from Twitter)