Open Letter de Sam Hamill

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Posted by Jeff from ( on Monday, July 14, 2003 at 0:17AM :

Dear friend,

"All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect
on murder and to make a choice. After that, we can distinguish those who
accept the consequences of being murderers themselves or the accomplices of
murderers, and those who refuse to do so with all their force and being.
Since this terrible dividing line does actually exist, it will be a gain if
it be clearly marked. Over the expanse of five continents throughout the
coming years an endless struggle is going to be pursued between violence
and friendly persuasion, a struggle which, granted, the former has a
thousand times more chances of success than does the latter. But I have
always held that, if he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he
who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward. And henceforth, the
only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble:
that words are more powerful than munitions." Albert Camus

For the past six months, it has been my privilege to serve as founder and
primary spokesman of Poets Against the War. Our accomplishments have been
bold and vivid, subtle and modest. Both the electronic anthology of 13,000
poems and the now best-selling print selection from it have made history.
Our actions in creating national and international days of poetry readings
against war have also been historical firsts. We have established a
worldwide network for poets opposed to George Bush's threat of worldwide
"pre-emptive" war and his creation of a United States that is in fact and
deed a rogue nation. We have joined with other anti-war and human rights
organizations to broaden and deepen our opposition to this administration's
policies as more and more people become aware of the terrible consequences
we all face. All of this, and much more, has been accomplished because
poets gave their art and hearts and money to make it work.

The war, however, has only just begun. The Bush policies have been somewhat
reinforced, at least for the short run, thanks to manipulative, flag-waving
media. Poets Against the War will remain an active organization opposing
new and continuing wars and new "patriotic acts." Now it is time for long-
range planning. For that reason, the Board of Directors has appointed Andy
Himes to the position of Executive Director. I will continue to serve on
the board while acting as Artistic Director, aided by an Advisory Committee
of poets to be named within the month. We will continue to extend our
message and provide valuable information, as well as opening a forum where
poets may explore strategies and propose actions.

We have drawn our line in the sand. Our tools are everyone's tools: the
simple words we use almost thoughtlessly every day, but use in our art with
scrupulous honesty and precision. I am Confucian enough to believe that
"All wisdom is rooted in learning to call things by the right name." And we
poets understand why Dante put the defilers of language into the seventh
circle of his Hell. Our liberties are defined by a few clear, simple words

The history of poetry is filled with advocacy, private and public. It is
our privilege to draw on that history and to educate our friends and
neighbors and ourselves to extend the vast pleasures and wisdom of
poetry as we explore ideas, working to make a peaceful world together. In
telling the story, in singing the song, there is always the poetry behind
the words, both the beautiful and the deceitful. The more people learn to
see clearly through the deliberately warped language of this
administration, the sooner we shall understand the consequences of our
actions. The better our poetry, the better we come to understand the
terrible damage done by inappropriate metaphor and deliberately deceptive

Only a few well-chosen words can make peace. And even then, only when we
are willing to fully inhabit those words. To live by them. Sometime within
the month, <> will once again begin publishing new
poetry on our web site. May we all find those few right words we can live

Sam Hamill
Artistic Director,
July 4, 2003

-- Jeff
-- signature .

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