Jan
21
2024

Poet Solidarity – Respond by January 24th

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Justice – Poetry

#1: Are you a poet who lives in Massachusetts Congressional District 1 / is represented by Richard Neal? If yes, please keep reading.

#2: Do you agree with what is in this letter?  

Dear Representative Richard Neal,

We abhor the loss of life from war, violence, poverty, and lack of access to food and water anywhere in the world. 

Right now we are watching with eyes burning and hearts broken by the staggering loss of life and destruction of physical, cultural, and social infrastructure caused by the bombardment and blockade of Gaza. 

We know that US support gives the right-wing Israeli government access to the bombs, matériel and armaments being used to inflict death, destruction, starvation, and pain on the people of Gaza. This is an unacceptable use of our tax dollars.

Representative Neal must call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire and vote against the proposed $14.5 billion in additional military aid to Israel. Our tax dollars should instead be used to support humanitarian aid, rebuilding in Gaza, and meeting critical needs here in Congressional District 1. 

As poets we can see ourselves in the people of Gaza who work with words: journalists, writers, academics, and fellow poets. Any one of their death’s would wound our hearts. They are dying at unprecedented numbers. Eighty to 100 journalists have been killed in Gaza since October 7th. That is more than the 67 journalists killed in all 7 years of World War II. We don’t have comparison statistics on poets killed. We just have a sad accounting of 13 poets killed in Gaza killed in the 75 days between October 7th and December 21st in 2023. 

We’d like to introduce you to these poets. You will find some of their poems in the enclosed booklet. We also included some poems from us, your constituents. Finally, there are poems from living Palestinian poets.

Knowing of your Irish heritage and how important poetry is in Irish culture, we thought you would be open to our poetic lobbying for life.

We look forward to hearing your feelings about these poems and learning about how they will impact your legislation. 

With broken open hearts,

Poets of Congressional District 1

Cc: Chris Cozzaglio, Arts Liaison 

***

There is certainly more to be said and more ways to name what is happening, but this statement is designed to be as basic as possible and focused on the immediate realities and with just a bit of heart showing. Can you support all the statements in it? If yes, keep reading. 

#3: Can you act quickly/take action this week? 

Sending a poem by Wednesday, January 24 at 6pm is the most helpful for organizing the booklet. I may be able to include poems sent after that but before 10pm on Thursday, the 25th. I am working on coordinating a delivery to Rep Neal’s Springfield office on the January 26th day of action I know about from Jewish Voice for Peace.

#4: If yes to all three, please contribute a poem following these guidelines:

  • The theme doesn’t not have to be directly related to Gaza/this war, but should be about upholding life, creating the world we want to live, against war. 
  • Needs to have straightforward formatting.
  • Short is good. Think in the 40 lines or less range. (But this is not an absolute)
  • Format is: 
    • title of your poem, 
    • by (your name) 
    • the town you live in 
    • (optional to include one poetry role/honor title, i.e. author of …Poet Laureate…)
    • then the poem.
  • Send pasted into the body of the email to carolynanncushing AT gmail.com
  • Also in the body of the email let me know if you give permission for your name to be shared as a poet participating in this project. If I have a goodly list of us I put it in the cover letter signature

I will put all the poems into a word doc. Everyone who contributes to this action will get a link to the doc. I will make 3 copies of the document: one for Richard Neal, one for Chris Cozzaglio, and one for the staff to pass around if they are curious. 

I will not do anything else with the poems before coordinating with you.

#5: Do you want to invite others?

If yes, please feel free to share. Social media is good, but a more personal one-to-one direct ask is always nice and very effective. 

#6: What happens next? 

Yes, we might want to use this foundation to organize a reading. I would work on such a reading if we could use it to maximize our pressure on Rep. Neal and hold in a place to get attention such as in/outside his office in Springfield at the Federal Court House. That would take some organizing and I am reaching out to those working on solidarity actions for advice/support.

If you want to work on integrating poetry into further direct/strategic actions, let me know and perhaps in the future we can do collaborative planning on such things. 

Like this idea, but don’t live in MA-Congressional District 1? You might adapt it to your area. Check the Ceasefire Tracker to see where your congressperson and legislators stand. Find poems from poets killed in Gaza here, or contact me to send you the doc.

Just want to add poetry to your political action? I know someone who does their lobbying calls at night and after calling for a ceasefire, recites a short poem. The poems from poets killed in Gaza here.

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