March 29, 2008

Prompt Action: Protest Poems

I am continuously delighted by the contacts that I make from around the world by doing and this blog. One such contact inspired me to use the protest poem as a writing prompt for the site in April. It was an email I received from Ren Katherine Powell, the founding editor of Babel Fruit.

Ren is a native Californian, now living on the southwest coast of Norway and has "seriously invested in wool socks." She is a member of the Norwegian Writers' Union and Norwegian PEN's Women Writers Committee representative. She helped to establish the International Cities of Refuge and worked as the project coordinator. She is a dramatist, poet and translator currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing. Her performance work has been staged in the US, Canada and Norway. She has two volumes of poetry and nine books of translations to her credit. (More about her on her website and her blog, Sidestepping Real.)

Here's my initial contact from her:
I hoped that you would consider adding two links to your links page. I am the founding editor of Babel Fruit online journal: We publish award-winning writers of prose and poetry.

We also have an associated project called It is a writing prompt/protest letter project. Writers do writing exercises anyway. We provide a specific theme and do the grunt work of putting them in the mail. We post the compilations on the website, and all poems contributed to ProtestPoems are considered for Babel Fruit.

Babel Fruit is an independent initiative first established in cooperation with the International Cities of Refuge. Each issue of Babel Fruit presents a previously persecuted or exiled writer.

Poets Online has been offering a monthly poetry prompt for about a decade. But if you feel the need for writing prompts that have more impact, try the monthly poetry prompts at They have asked for "poems to fight censorship, satire against those who silence satire, acrostic poems to spell out support of free speech." All poems are sent along with the protest letters, and all poems are also considered for publication in Babel Fruit.

How's this for an editorial policy: "These unedited compilations are serious protest actions - an ode to your ant farm will not be included unless the writer wrote about, lived in or liberated an ant farm."

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