Posted in Social Justice/Activism


img_3718BEST PRACTICE: “FAITH & HOUSING WEEKEND” One of the reasons “The Poet by Day” FB page and this blog are on hiatus and I haven’t been online much is that I am helping with this county-wide effort to address the housing crisis in our area. Between 2010 and 2014, San Mateo County produced 2,100 new housing units and 54,600 jobs. It’s not hard to imagine the resulting decrease in affordable housing and increase in homelessness and other stressful conditions. “The Faith and Housing Weekend” was born of a recent Clergy Housing Summit. At the Summits clergy and county officials unite to understand the crisis and to target solutions for ultimately achieving “Homes for All.”

I am proud of area clergy representing many faiths who have gathered with prayer and intention at the Clergy Housing Summits and are planning collaborative efforts (in numbers there’s strength) that can be implemented by them and their synagogues, mosques and churches to better serve our community. This weekend – “Faith and Housing Weekend” – many of our faith organizations will host educational sessions to provide information to their congregations on the housing crisis, resources, the local ballot initiatives for November 8th, and the ways individually and together members can help resolve the shortage and affordability challenges.There will also be sermons, homilies, music, and prayer. Bravo!

I’ve posted this info because there are many communities around the world where people are homeless for a variety of reasons.  This is “a best practice” and one that I suspect could be implemented pretty much anywhere.

Posted in Poem/Poetry, poetry history, Social Justice/Activism, Writers/Poets

A DEFENSE OF ACTIVIST POETRY by Michael Dickel who penned “War Surrounds US”

American-Isreali Poet, Michael Dickel
American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

51pv4fg0wpl-_sx329_bo1204203200_By now, those who pay attention to poetry and in particular the poetries of witness and activist poetries, know well that it follows from a long tradition. Yet others, especially cultural and political conservatives, argue “protest” poetry or “political” poetry both do not constitute “Literature,” and that such poetry cannot help but be time-bound little more than contemporaneous commentary. I have been told that some of my poetry is “journalistic,” and that I am caught in a “fashionable” trend from the mid-1950s that has no literary roots beyond, possibly, the Beats. Such arguments simply are nonsense.

unknownCarolyn Forché’s volumes Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English 1500–2001 and Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness demonstrate, with excellent examples, a long history of social and political engagement in English poetry. In fact, one might claim just the opposite of the (usually disguised political) claims that the tradition began in the middle of the 20th C. could be made, that solipsistic confessional poetry that is more autobiography than engaged in the world emerges from that time, in counter-balance to a history of poetry engaged in the outside world.

For this post, I provide two examples of poets from the first half of the 20th Century who engaged in the world.


The first, two poems come from the well-known poet William Butler Yeats: Easter, 1916, written in response to a political protest forcefully broken up by the British, who executed 16 of the protesters. The poem, written in September 1916 and published in 1928, ends with a powerful commentary on the protest, the execution-martyrdom that resulted, and, prophetically, the continuation of the Irish struggle: “A terrible beauty is born.”

Easter, 1916

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse—
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

– William Butler Yeats

Yeats’ poem, Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen, comments powerfully and bitterly on violence, war, oppression, and the loss of our own humanity in modern times. The poem, in six parts, has a history of difficult critical reception—critics had a hard time reconciling it with others of Yeats’ works. However, since the later part of the 20th Century, his poem has had a more thoughtful reading by the critics, possibly giving weight to saying he was “ahead of his time.”

Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen

Many ingenious lovely things are gone
That seemed sheer miracle to the multitude,
protected from the circle of the moon
That pitches common things about. There stood
Amid the ornamental bronze and stone
An ancient image made of olive wood —
And gone are Phidias’ famous ivories
And all the golden grasshoppers and bees.

We too had many pretty toys when young:
A law indifferent to blame or praise,
To bribe or threat; habits that made old wrong
Melt down, as it were wax in the sun’s rays;
Public opinion ripening for so long
We thought it would outlive all future days.
O what fine thought we had because we thought
That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.

All teeth were drawn, all ancient tricks unlearned,
And a great army but a showy thing;
What matter that no cannon had been turned
Into a ploughshare? Parliament and king
Thought that unless a little powder burned
The trumpeters might burst with trumpeting
And yet it lack all glory; and perchance
The guardsmen’s drowsy chargers would not prance.

Now days are dragon-ridden, the nightmare
Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery
Can leave the mother, murdered at her door,
To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free;
The night can sweat with terror as before
We pieced our thoughts into philosophy,
And planned to bring the world under a rule,
Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.

He who can read the signs nor sink unmanned
Into the half-deceit of some intoxicant
From shallow wits; who knows no work can stand,
Whether health, wealth or peace of mind were spent
On master-work of intellect or hand,
No honour leave its mighty monument,
Has but one comfort left: all triumph would
But break upon his ghostly solitude.

But is there any comfort to be found?
Man is in love and loves what vanishes,
What more is there to say? That country round
None dared admit, if Such a thought were his,
Incendiary or bigot could be found
To burn that stump on the Acropolis,
Or break in bits the famous ivories
Or traffic in the grasshoppers or bees.

When Loie Fuller’s Chinese dancers enwound
A shining web, a floating ribbon of cloth,
It seemed that a dragon of air
Had fallen among dancers, had whirled them round
Or hurried them off on its own furious path;
So the platonic Year
Whirls out new right and wrong,
Whirls in the old instead;
All men are dancers and their tread
Goes to the barbarous clangour of a gong.

Some moralist or mythological poet
Compares the solitary soul to a swan;
I am satisfied with that,
Satisfied if a troubled mirror show it,
Before that brief gleam of its life be gone,
An image of its state;
The wings half spread for flight,
The breast thrust out in pride
Whether to play, or to ride
Those winds that clamour of approaching night.

A man in his own secret meditation
Is lost amid the labyrinth that he has made
In art or politics;
Some Platonist affirms that in the station
Where we should cast off body and trade
The ancient habit sticks,
And that if our works could
But vanish with our breath
That were a lucky death,
For triumph can but mar our solitude.

The swan has leaped into the desolate heaven:
That image can bring wildness, bring a rage
To end all things, to end
What my laborious life imagined, even
The half-imagined, the half-written page;
O but we dreamed to mend
Whatever mischief seemed
To afflict mankind, but now
That winds of winter blow
Learn that we were crack-pated when we dreamed.

We, who seven years ago
Talked of honour and of truth,
Shriek with pleasure if we show
The weasel’s twist, the weasel’s tooth.

Come let us mock at the great
That had such burdens on the mind
And toiled so hard and late
To leave some monument behind,
Nor thought of the levelling wind.

Come let us mock at the wise;
With all those calendars whereon
They fixed old aching eyes,
They never saw how seasons run,
And now but gape at the sun.

Come let us mock at the good
That fancied goodness might be gay,
And sick of solitude
Might proclaim a holiday:
Wind shrieked — and where are they?

Mock mockers after that
That would not lift a hand maybe
To help good, wise or great
To bar that foul storm out, for we
Traffic in mockery.

Violence upon the roads: violence of horses;
Some few have handsome riders, are garlanded
On delicate sensitive ear or tossing mane,
But wearied running round and round in their courses
All break and vanish, and evil gathers head:
Herodias’ daughters have returned again,
A sudden blast of dusty wind and after
Thunder of feet, tumult of images,
Their purpose in the labyrinth of the wind;
And should some crazy hand dare touch a daughter
All turn with amorous cries, or angry cries,
According to the wind, for all are blind.
But now wind drops, dust settles; thereupon
There lurches past, his great eyes without thought
Under the shadow of stupid straw-pale locks,
That insolent fiend Robert Artisson
To whom the love-lorn Lady Kyteler brought
Bronzed peacock feathers, red combs of her cocks.

– William Butler Yeats

If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to this site to view the video here of Yeats reading Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen.


unknown-1For the second example, I move to a lesser-known writer. John Cornford, the great-grandson of Charles Darwin, died during the Spanish Civil War under “uncertain circumstances at Lopera, near Córdoba in 1936.” We have no idea how much he might have contributed to poetry, had he survived. However, his poems written during the Spanish Civil War did survive, and were published posthumously. Born in 1915 in Cambridge, England, he was a committed communist. “Though his life was tragically brief, he documented his experiences of the conflict through poetry, letters to family and his lover, and political and critical prose which spoke out against the fascist regime and its ideologies.”

Sandra Mendez, a niece of John Cornford who also holds the copyright to his work, created a song from his poem “To Margot Heinemann.” The YouTube below is her performing that song.

If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to this site to view the video here of Yeats reading Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen.

These are just two of many examples that could be drawn from the long history of English letters. Engaged poetry, poetry of witness, activist poetry, political poetry—all comprise an important aspect, perhaps the most important aspect, of what we call “Poetry.”

– Michael Dickel

Select Resources and Links
Burt, Stephen. The Weasel’s Tooth: On W. B. Yeats. The Nation.
Dickel, Michael. Curator / Editor. Poet Activists: Poets Speak Out. The Woven Tale Press.
Rumens, Carol. Poem of the Week: Poem by John Cornford. The Guardian.

THE POET AS WITNESS, an interview with Michael Dickel

© 2016, essay, Michael Dickel, All rights reserved

Posted in Social Justice/Activism

LATE-BREAKING NEWS: WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED: Church Gun-Violence Sit-In With Congresswoman Jackie Speier

Congresswoman, Jackie Speier, Democrat, CA
Congresswoman, Jackie Speier, Democrat, California

Dear Friends,

No one should have to live in fear of losing their life, especially when going to school or church, or visiting a night club, community center, or movie theater. However, the stark and shameful reality in America is hundreds of people have lost their lives to gun violence in such places. That is why Congress must act now to pass common sense legislation.

On June 23rd, 2016, Congressman John Lewis led 170 Members of Congress in a historic protest on the floor of the House of Representatives. The civil rights icon sat down to demand action against gun violence, which kills 33,000 people in our country every year and injures another 80,000 individuals. I was proud to join my colleague then, and I continue to work with him and other Democratic Members of Congress to bring a vote on common sense gun safety measures to the House floor. This includes sit-ins, town halls, roundtable discussions and more back in our home districts. On the 4th of July, I was joined by 100 people at a sit-in in front of a movie theater in Redwood City, where we declared our independence from the NRA and discussed possible solutions to this national epidemic.

On Sunday, August 28, 2016, I invite you to join me for a sit-in at the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo Church at the conclusion of the 10 a.m. service. I will not stop demanding action until this Republican-led Congress calls a vote on universal background checks and banning terrorists from buying guns. These are modest measures that the majority of Americans support, including the majority of American gun owners.

Gun-violence Sit-In
Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo Church
300 E. Santa Inez Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94401
Sunday, August 28, 2016
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.


Please join me in sending a clear message to Congress, the NRA, and other powerful members of the gun lobby. We will not be silenced!

All the best,

Congresswoman Jackie Speier
Organizer of Church Gun Violence Sit-in
Congresswoman Jackie Speier represents California’s 14th Congressional District.

Posted in Poem/Poetry, She-Poets, Social Justice/Activism, Writers/Poets

“Embarrassed” – British Poet, Hollie McNish, delivers a rhymed and reasoned defense of breastfeeding in public

Hollie Poetry a.k.a. Hollie McNish, poet, author and spoken word artist
Hollie Poetry a.k.a. Hollie McNish, poet, author and spoken word artist

“Born in Reading to Glaswegian parents, Hollie studied French and German at King’s College, Cambridge, before earning a master’s degree in Development Economics.Hollie won the UK Slam Poetry Competition in 2009 and went on to finish 3rd in the global Slam Du Monde contest. A collection of her poems, Papers was published by Greenwich Exchange in 2012.

“A number of Hollie’s YouTube videos have gone viral and her account currently has over 3.9 million views.McNish’s first album, Versus, was released in September 2014 under the pseudonym Hollie Poetry, she was the first poet to record an album at Abbey Road Studios.Hollie has collaborated with Kate Tempest and George the Poet and they have appeared on stage with her during her 2015 tour. McNish received major national airplay on the BBC, first in January 2015 on Huw Stephens BBC Radio 1 show and then in May 2015 on BBC Radio 1Xtra in as part of a spoken word event.” Wikipedia


I thought it was okay, I could understand the reasons
They said, “There might
be a man or a nervous child
seeing this small piece of flesh that they
weren’t quite expecting.”
So I whispered and tip-toed with nervous discretion
But after six months of her life sat sitting on lids,
sipping on milk, nostrils sniffing on piss
Trying not to bang her head on toilet roll dispensers
I wonder whether these public loo feeds offend her
‘Cause I’m getting tired of discretion and being polite
As my baby’s first sips are drowned drenched in shite
I spent the first feeding months of her beautiful life
Feeling nervous and awkward and wanting everything right
Surrounded by family ‘til I stepped out the house
It took me eight weeks to get the confidence to go into town
Now, the comments around me cut like a knife
As I rush into toilet cubicles
feeling nothing like nice
Because I’m giving her milk that’s not in a bottle
Which in the cocaine generation white powder would topple
I see pyramids, sales pitches, across our green globe
And female breasts–banned–unless they’re out just for show
And the more I go out, the more I can’t stand it
I walk into town, feel I’m surrounded by bandits
‘Cause in this country of billboards, covered in tits
And family newsagent magazines full of it
WH Smith top shelf’s out for men
Why don’t you complain about them then?
In this country of billboards, covered in tits
And family newsagent magazines full of it
W.H. Smith top shelves out for men
I’m getting embarrassed in case
a small flash of flesh might offend
And I’m not trying to parade it
I don’t want to make a show
But when I’m told I’d be better just staying at home
And when another friend
I know is thrown off a bus
And another mother told to get out of a pub
Even my grandma said that maybe I was sexing it up
And I’m sure the milk-makers love all this fuss
All the cussing, and worry, and looks of disgust
As another mother turns from nipples to powder
Ashamed or embarrassed by the comments around her
And as I hold her head up and pull my cartie across
And she sips on that liquor made from everyone’s God
I think, For God’s sake, Jesus drank it
So did Siddhartha, Muhammad, and Moses
And both of their fathers
Ganesh, and Shiva and Brigit and Buddha
And I’m sure they weren’t doing it sniffing on piss
As their mothers sat embarrassed sitting on cold toilet lids
In a country of billboards covered in tits
In a country of low-cut tops cleavage and skin
In a country of clothed bags and recycling bins
And as I desperately try to take all of this in
I hold her head up, I can’t get my head round the anger
Towards us and not to the sound of lorries
Off-loading formula milk
Into countries dripping in filth
In towns where breasts are oases of life
Now dried up in two-for-one offers enticed by labels, and gold standard rights
Claiming that breast milk is healthier, powdered and white
Packaged marketed and branded and sold at a price
That nothing is free in this money-fueled life
Which is fine if you need it or prefer to use bottles
Where water is clean and bacteria boiled
But in towns where they drown in pollution and sewage
Bottled kids die and they know that they do it
In towns where pennies are savored like sweets
We’re now paying for one thing that’s always been free
In towns empty of hospital beds, babies die,
Diarrhea-fueled, that breastmilk would end
So no more will I sit on these cold toilet lids
No matter how embarrassed I feel as she sips
Because in this country of billboards, covered in tits
I think we should try to get used to this

© Hollie McNish

She’s good. I’m so delighted to find her. Hollie’s website, Hollie on Amazon U.S. and on Amazon U.K.

Photo credit: Andrew Lih under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Posted in event, General Interest, poetry event, Social Justice/Activism

IF WE WERE RIOTING IN 120 COUNTRIES, YOU’D SEE US ON THE 6 p.m. NEWS: but, we’re not, so here’s everything you need to know about 100,000 Poets for Change


Here’s the good news: There are thousands of peace-loving, peace-living artists who gather in solidarity in some 120 countries around the world each year on the fourth Saturday of September and who connect and continue to work and stay connected even after the main event is over. The main event is 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC), which is in its sixth year.

If we were rioting in 120 countries, for sure you’d see us on CNN, but we bare witness to the desire for and possibility of peace and apparently that doesn’t qualify as news: won’t get the adrenalin going, won’t sell laundry soap, won’t create division among us so that the wealthy and powerful can use us for their own ends. The world in all its strife is left to learn about 100TPC through social media.  So be it …


I wasn’t there at the beginning, but I imagine that 100 Thousand Poets for Change founders, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion (both of Big Bridge Press), were having dinner one night – maybe with some other poets and some artists and musicians  – contemplating the state of the world, the disconnection among communities and nations and trying to think of some way to connect positively, to come together in the service of shared ideals such as harmony, stewardship and compassion. And so it happened that in 2011, Michael put out a call on Facebook for 100,000 Poets for Change and a movement was born.  If memory serves there were 700 events held simultaneously around the world that first September.

The first night of the 100TPC World Conference in Salerno, Italy in 2015. Over 80 poets from 22 countries and 6 continents came together to share and to plan for the future of 100TPC
The first night of the 100TPC World Conference in Salerno, Italy in 2015. Over 80 poets from 22 countries and 6 continents came together to share and to plan for the future of 100TPC

Michael and Terri recently stated that peace and sustainability …

. . . are major concerns worldwide and the guiding principles for this global event. All participants hope, through their actions and events, to seize and redirect the political and social dialogue of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and sustainability. We are living in a world where it isn’t just one issue that needs to be addressed. A common ground is built through this global compilation of local stories, which is how we create a true narrative for discourse to inform the future . . .

“What kind of change are we talking about? The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, anybody, to actually get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity.”

What started as a poets’ event now includes artists, photographers, musicians, drummers, mimes, dancers, arts lovers and other peacemakers.




Michael Rothenberg

Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion created a website where anyone who wanted to organize an event could register.  It is to this site that you may go to register an event or to find an event in your area. If you want to organize an event and it sounds rather onerous to you, keep in mind that while an event might be big and attended by many in a park or town square, it might also be a small gathering of like-minded artists at your home or a local cafe.  I organized The BeZine 100TPC virtual event because I am largely home bound and assume there are others out there like me who would like to participate in 100TPC but would find it difficult to spend the day out. This virtual event also gives people anywhere a place to participant in 100TPC if there is no event scheduled in their vicinity. So just use your imagination and be creative about this.  You might dedicate a book club meeting to it or an afternoon at church. This year, Terri Stewart (Beguine Again and The BeZine) has organized a peacemaking circle to be held at her church in Seattle. Bravo!

Organizers generally make flyers for their events. These are often small works of art. Depending on religious or national holidays, in some countries the events are held on days other than the fourth Saturday of September.  In other countries – Morocco is one – events are held monthly. The main consistency is spirit and shared vision.

If you are reading this post in an email, you will likely have to link though to view this slide show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To keep up with 100TPC, check out the website for information and updates and connect with 100TPC on Facebook.

THE BeZINE 100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE, virtual event

The BeZine 100,000 Poets for Change will start on September 15th with our September issue. Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace) is the lead for that issue. The theme is Environment and Environmental Justice, which is our chosen theme for 100TPC 2016. If you’d like to submit work on topic for that issue, send it to Please review submission guidelines first.

Our 100TPC event is hosted from our blog. The post will go up at 12 a.m. PST on September 24 and you can begin including work immediately using either the comments section or Mister Linkey. Direction will be included in the content of the post. American-Israeli Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) is the Master of Ceremonies again this year. He does a fabulous job of it and will keep the action and commentary running via the comments section. You are encouraged to share your own work and to read the work of others. I’ll be on hand to give Michael breaks and to keep the dialog going until midnight PST – California.  Ultimately all work shared is archived on site and at Standford University. Please keep in mind, that this is not just for poetry.  You can share appropriately themed fiction, music video, creative nonfiction – whatever can be shared in a comment. Long pieces can be shared by putting in the url link to your work on your blog or website.

To help get you going, we’ll do 100TPC writing prompts here at The Poet by Day on Wednesdays, August 23 and August 31, so that you can begin working on something for September 24.  Comments will be open for sharing and – in fact – as of today, comments are open again on this site.


This event is organized by The Bardo Group Beguines‘ Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again and The BeZine) at Riverton Park United Methodist Church, 3118 S 140th Street, Tukwilia, Washington 98168 on Saturday, September 24th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. with a social gathering after from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Terri will lead a peacemaking circle that will focus on earth justice. She says, “We want to make a public witness of peace and peace for the earth. Hope to see you there!” The Facebook Page for this event is HERE.

That same afternoon there will also be a food drive in process at Riverton for the Tukewila Pantry Emergency Food Bank and donations of food or money are welcome. Here is the wish list if you are able to help:

Canned Meats/Fish
Canned Vegetables
Canned Fruits
Canned Meals (i.e. stews, soups, spaghetti, chili, ravioli, etc.) Macaroni & Cheese
Dry or Canned Milk
Peanut Butter
Dry Goods (i.e. pastas, rice, beans, cold and hot cereals, baking mix, etc.)

Remember, wherever you are in the world, go to 100TPC to find an event in your area or to register to hold one and no matter where you are, you can also participate in The BeZine’s 100TPC virtual event.


The BeZine 100TPC Commemorative Collection, 2014
The BeZine 100TPC Commemorative Collection, 2015
Michael Dickel’s report back from the Salerno Conference
The BeZine 100TPC Facebook discussion page

Posted in literature, Social Justice/Activism, Writers/Poets


Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)


CHINUA ACHEBE was a Nigerian poet and novelist. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) is his major work and is said to be the most widely read book in modern African literature. He is considered the founding father of African literature in English.

Listen to a short interview with Achebe‘s daughter in pop-out player on BBC’s Witness. Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart “was set in pre-colonial rural Nigeria and examines how the arrival of foreigners – imposing their own traditions – led to tensions within the Igbo society. The book revolutionised African culture, and began a whole new genre of world literature. Witness radio program hears from Achebe’s youngest daughter, Nwando Achebe.”

Refugee Mother and Child Poem

No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours

of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most

mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –

singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she

did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.

– Chinua Achebe, Collected Poems

“Charity . . . is the opium of the privileged.”  Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah


Africa’s Voice, Nigeria’s Conscience, New York Times
The Sacrificial Egg, The Atlantic

Posted in Social Justice/Activism

HEADS-UP CALIFORNIA: Protect Free Speech, Right to Boycott, Peninsula Peace & Justice Center, action alert


Bill in Sacramento Threatens Freedom of Speech, Right to Boycott
 AB 2844

“Engaging in an economic boycott of “any sovereign nation or people recognized by the government of the United States” — like the anti-apartheid boycotts of South Africa in the 1980s — could become a felony under a proposed state law currently making its way through the legislature.

“The bill — AB 2844 — is due to be taken up by the Senate Appropriations Committee in two weeks. Two local state senators serve on that committee. Sign the letter to urge Jerry Hill or Jim Beall to vote no.

“While AB 2844 refers to “any … nation”, it goes on to say, “including but not limited to Israel.” And that’s the real motive behind this bill: To kill the growing Boycott, Diversment and Sanction (BDS) campaign aimed at ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.” PEACE ACTION more here including information, editorials and legislative contact for your more informed decision-making and action.

– Thanks to Peace Action and Connie S. for this alert.

Posted in Poem/Poetry, poetry event, poetry reading, regional poetry event, Social Justice/Activism, Writing/Blogging


c The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development‎Interfaith Eco Poetry Slam صدى المناظرة الشعرية بين الاديان האקו-פואטרי סלאם הבין דתי
c The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development‎ Interfaith Eco Poetry Slam صدى المناظرة الشعرية بين الاديان האקו-פואטרי סלאם הבין דתי

The ICSD staff and participants from around Jerusalem gathered in Tmol Shilshom to perform and speak about faith and ecology through the art of poetry on June 30.  Michael Deckel discussed the human relationship with God and how we want a connection but cannot have one without striving to create meaning in the world.

En Gedi — Wadi David Photograph ©2015
En Gedi — Wadi David
Photograph, Michael Dickel ©2015
En Gedi

Even lizards hide from this scorched heat.
Tristram’s grackles pant in the shade of skeletal acacia.
Fan-tail ravens float on rising currents like vultures.

David hid from Saul in the strongholds of En Gedi;
along the wadi now named for him, waterfalls
drop warm water onto maidenhair ferns into tepid pools.

Any stippled shade provides shelter from the scathing sun
when hiding from midday heat or close pursuit:
Tristram and Iseult, David, seek shade, ferns, sparkling droplets.

We escape, fugitives from kings
into what little shade we find, wade
into green puddles of desert water,

for brief respite, solace,
a bright glimmer sliding down
an eroding rock face.

– Michael Dickel

© 2015/2016, poem and Ein Gedi photograph, Michael Dickel;2012, portrait (below) Aviva Dickel


dickelheadshot3x4-1MICHAEL DICKEL (Fragments of Michael Dickel), a poet, fiction writer, essayist, photographer, digital artist, and educator is a contributing editor for The BeZine, was associate editor and contributing editor of The Woven Tale Press, managing editor of arc-24 (2015) and arc–23 (2014), and co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36 (2010). His latest book of poems is War Surrounds Us. Previous books include Midwest / Mid-East and The World Behind It, Chaos, an eBook from “why vandalism?” that is no longer available online. Dickel is the Chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English.

Dickel’s work was short-listed for the Wisehouse 2016 Poetry Award and has appeared in literary journals, anthologies, art books, and online for over twenty years. His photographs and poems have appeared in: THIS Literary Magazine, Eclectic Flash, Cartier Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Sketchbook, Emerging Visions Visionary Art eZine, Poetry Midwest, Fotógrafos En La Calle (Street Photographers), why vandalism? [1, 2, 3, 4], Poetica Magazine—Reflections on Jewish Thought, Zeek: a Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture and Abramelin: the Journal of Poetry and Magick, among many others (a selection of recent publications can be accessed on the Links page). Two of his poems received first and second place in the 2009 international Reuben Rose Memorial Poetry Competition.

He has also worked with documentary film productions, writing everything from fund-raising proposals to research to treatments and scripts. Working with David Fisher, he wrote a successful proposal for a U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures through Film Development Grant.

Michael (Dickel) Dekel, Ph.D., holds degrees in psychology, creative writing, and English literature. He has been teaching college and university for over 25 years—writing and literature courses in the United States and Israel – as well as courses in media and English Education in Israel. He directed the Student Writing Center at the University of Minnesota and the Macalester Academic Excellence Center at Macalester College (St. Paul, MN). He currently lectures at Kibbutzim College (Tel Aviv). Dr. Dickel has published articles, presented conference papers, and led workshops on writing and the teaching of academic writing. He currently lives in Jerusalem, Israel.

Posted in Poem/Poetry, Social Justice/Activism

For the Girls, a poem

girlThey come like thistle and thorn,
and write their rage upon my body.
They come like locusts and
feed on the fields of my soul.
Like the angry storm, they drown me.
Like the desert sands, they suffocate me.
They see me, a little person
of little consequence …
a girl
Just a trinket, a toy, a receptacle,
something to sell, buy, trade or
marry-off prematurely,
without my say.
But hear me, I am the answer.
I am the calm after the storm.
I am the antidote to
stone hearts and desiccated souls.
I am the future and the past.
I am the hope, the dream, the reality.
I am real.
I am human.
I am the answer.

“Women are half the society. You cannot have a revolution without women. You cannot have democracy without women. You cannot have equality without women. You can’t have anything without women” Nawal El Saadawi (b. 1931), Egyption feminist writer and physician


Girls Not Brides

Lifting the Veil: Artists in Support of the Tahirih Justice Center:

The Tahirih Justice Center stands alone as the only national, multi-city organization providing a broad range of direct legal services, policy advocacy, and training and education to protect immigrant women and girls fleeing violence. Come out and support some of New York’s most powerful artists as they perform to raise money for a worth cause. $10 suggested donation all going to the center. Thanks to Terri Muuss for sharing this with us. Lifting the Veil Facebook Page is HERE.

August 7 at 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. EDT at BrickHouse Bewery & Restaurant 67 W. Main Street, Patchogue, New York 11772.


There is no place for child marriage in a world where empowered girls lead the way into a better future for everyone everywhere!

©2010,poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved