April 9, 2008

Poetry from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak

I realized today that I had first heard about a collection of poetry written by Guantanamo Bay detainees last summer on an NPR program.

The piece featured attorney Marc Falkoff, who represents 17 Yemeni prisoners, and edited Poetry from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak, and Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo detainee whose poetry is featured in the collection. Begg was held in Guantanamo for nearly three years, and was released in January 2005 with no charges made against him.

You can listen to the segment online.

"Poetry, art of the human voice, helps turn us toward what we should
or must not ignore. Speaking as they can across barriers actual and
figurative, translated into our American tongue, these voices in
confinement implicitly call us to our principles and to our humanity.
They deserve, above all, not admiration or belief or sympathy-but
attention. Attention to them is urgent for us."-Robert Pinsky

"Poems from Guantanamo brings to light figures of concrete, individual
humanity,against the fabric of cruelty woven by the 'war on terror.'
The poems and poets' biographies reveal one dimension of this
officially obscured narrative, from the perspective of the sufferers;
the legal and literary essays provide the context which has
produced--under atrocious circumstances--a poetics of human
dignity."-Adrienne Rich

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Poetry does matter. I agree with an earlier comment about the Guantanamo poems that they may not be of the highest literary quality - but they matter.