Tuesday, December 29, 2009

see here for information from PEN on Liu Xiaobo

from PEN: This Thursday, New Year's Eve, PEN will hold an outdoor press event in midtown Manhattan to demand the release of Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced on Christmas Day to 11 years in prison for his writings in China.

The press event will feature several prominent Members of PEN American Center reading short passages from Liu's work. The event begins promptly at 11 a.m.

The event rings in a year that marks the 50th anniversary of PEN's activism on behalf of writers who are jailed or face persecution because of their work. Joseph Brodsky, Wole Soyinka, Vaclav Havel, Jose Revueltas, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Alicia Portnoy, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, and Taslima Nasreen, are just a few of the hundreds of writers PEN has freed or defended over the years.

There are currently almost 1,000 writers on PEN's list of writers and journalists in danger because of their work. Leading the list is Liu Xiaobo, one of China's most prominent writers and a past president and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, which is doing on-the-ground PEN advocacy in China. Liu was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power" for co-authoring "Charter 08," a petition calling for political and human rights reforms in China, and for seven sentences in five articles he published on the internet that are critical of Chinese authorities.

PEN American Center President Kwame Anthony Appiah called his 11-year sentence "a scandal" and "a mockery," and PEN Members around the world have vowed to step up efforts to win his release.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Antigone by J Z & A

[click on images above to see legible text; bibliographic info. is on the way]

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bahamian in Winter

As the day went on, it only got worse. The snow stopped falling but the temperature climbed slowly, and stopped just above freezing. Snow began melting, and water dropped from above. It hit my head like a cool summer shower at sea, but instead of feeling refreshed, the drops sent shivers down my spine. As time moved forth the wind began to howl, and the skies let loose a fine mist of rain; it felt as though I was aboard a boat on the Bering Sea. The mist stung as it hit me; this was normal at home, but the water was never this cold. I pressed forth from the dining hall to my dorm, my body frozen through to the bone, my muscles shaking from temperature shock. I entered through the bright red door of Gunn, and thought how it was only suitable on a day like this to have a red door on a warm building. I climbed the staircase to my room, warming slightly with each step, until I was at the perfect sun and sand temperature. My mind left thoughts of the cold behind when I entered my room. Slightly delusional from the cold, and deceived by the warmth of the dorm, I felt at home as I looked at my photos. I began to think of tomorrow, and came to the scary realization that the snow, now turned to cold water, would again freeze overnight, causing thin sheets of ice to form, just perfect to slip on. I quickly got beneath my covers and fell asleep, dreaming of being on a beach, surrounded by warm air, and though there was no one there to see me as I dreamed, I can assure you a smile came across my face for the first time that day. I woke up not long after my dream faded and dressed for the gym, putting on the bare minimum seven layers of clothing and three pairs of socks. After taking the hour and a half to get dressed, I headed back out into the frozen tundra. At first it appeared to be warmer than before, but as I rounded the corner of Gunn and was no longer sheltered by the building, the hurricane-force winds almost knocked me from my feet. Suddenly seven layers felt rather insignificant. I was cold and miserable. I crossed the street and started down the hill, and that was when it happened: out of nowhere, a great big chunk of snow fell from above, and landed square on my head. Now my misery turned to anger, and I was again cursing this morbid state, and its deathly weather, and I began to run towards the gym. I entered the building, and was welcomed by the friendly embrace of the warm air, and for a split second a smile was restored to my face. After my session in the weight room, I dreaded the journey back to my dorm, and upon stepping through the doors to leave the gym, I instantly turned around. It was freezing, and my body was burning up and drenched in sweat, but there was no way around walking outside to go back to my dorm. I opened the door again, and began the dreadful journey.

[see previous post for part one by Bahamas, a.k.a. Scott Aranha]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I woke up this morning by Bahamas

I woke up this morning to the familiar sound of a small gas motor running at full tilt. For a moment my mind lied to me, it let me believe that I was down in the bay, watching the Haitian sloops unload their cargo in the small tin boats. For a moment I could smell, feel, and see everything. Around me the small restaurants cooked their breakfast specials; I could almost taste the corned beef and grits, the tuna and eggs. The sand was slowly molding to my feet, filling every nook and cranny, the sun shining down on my head, warming me to a comfortable temperature. The water before me shone as blue as it ever had, almost blinding me with the light of the sun, but I didn’t care, in fact I was happy. I slowly peeled back my eye lids when I heard several people swearing in the hall. Reluctantly, I climbed from beneath my covers, and moved toward the window. I pulled the curtains to the side, and was shocked by what I saw. There it was, Snow! Snow so white that it hurt my eyes. Suddenly the warmth from my dream faded, the sand slowly changed to snow, and the warm sun to a big ball of ice. I was saddened by what had happened: my brain had lied to me, and I let it! I slowly walked to the bathroom, and checked the water, and typically, it was ice cold. Within the few seconds that my hand sat beneath the faucet, it turned blue. I dragged my feet as I headed back to my room, all the while cursing this dismal place. In the hall, I passed by many other depressed people; we all looked like everything we cared for had disintegrated. The frozen church bells sounded different as they struck eight, their tone was much more piercing than usual, and I suppose that they too were sad. I pushed open the door to the cold wintery world, and the cold air insistently struck my face. I stepped outside, no longer protected by a roof, and headed for class. Beneath my shoes, the snow crunched, and onto my head more fell. I crossed over the slushy street with great caution, all the while fearing my imminent demise. I could see it, me on my back in the middle of the crosswalk, but somehow I made it across safely. My next feat was climbing the hill. The path had yet to be plowed, so my feet sank down into the cold white snow; I could feel it falling into my shoes, soaking into my socks, and slowly freezing my feet. I could now see the sanctuary that is English class. I walked through the door, and the warmth pulsed through my body. I fear that I may in fact be forced to go back out into the snow.

[click here for a picture of Bahamas]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poem by Parrish Young

Winter’s Return

Engulfed in warmth, I am
Prepared for winter’s wrath, whose
Cruelty is relentless,
Preying upon those who know not your fury.
Many are paralyzed by the air, gasping for breath as you stare down from above.
Immune to cold, you are
Frozen to the core.

As days drift, the pines sway,
Whose needles of green are not the only survivors.
I am here.
Full of life, I have escaped.
It is not luck that has befallen me, but sense.
The sense to deny the feeling of false affection,
Whose warmth you consume immediately,
In a feeble attempt to liquefy your guilt.

Tumescent, your heart is
teeming with those souls whose journey was cut short.
Let them be
Let them breathe
Let them experience warmth.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Two poems by Alejandro Castro

Love is fed by darkness and its fears
Don’t fucking interrupt me, but let me hear
I indeed feel love inside my skull: it would wonder
But it won’t go
It never will, for a fact
It will stay, because of its reality and its bluff
Love is real, and life is not
Learn to live while being loved
We do not comprehend
The magnificent complication of stereotypical conflicts
But for once, if ever gets to be ever,
I would love to be real in a life that is real
To be loved with stereotypical madness

Confessions to my concrete, but meaningful friend…
Hello little dresser, let me see
Behind those walls of yours,
Let me go in… Lock yourself little dresser, don’t let me go out
To a world full of ignorance, madness, lack just lack: laaaack, LACK
Maybe lock me forever or maybe just to seem
Ohh! I do not care about society, please don’t get me started little dresser
Don’t get me started…
First, I have to be locked in some place quiet and clean
I have to think and develop and then be mean
Let’s all be mean and let’s all end
Ending is different depending on the setting and the blend
Bye bye little dresser, you malicious bitch,
But please listen: we all have to be mean some day, some night
To succeed…

Friday, December 4, 2009

Opening by Zaid El-Fanek

Just another cloudless, cold, winter night. The moon was shining brightly from behind me, shedding its light on the creatures of the night. I watched them as they cowered in fear of its radiance. Snowflakes gently floated in the air, moving like puppets in the gusts of wind. They floated downwards, towards the shimmering lights of the city. A snowdrop landed on a branch of a nearby tree, my favorite tree. The snowflake melted, then slightly dampened the rugged wood. The tree stood alone on a steep hill, peering down at the city, separated from the forest behind it. It withstood the constant gusts as they pushed and grazed its trunk, while the leaves rustled and scraped against each other, like an orchestra conducted by the wind. My vision shifted to a leaf as it broke free of the tree and spiraled away. I opened my hand, but my invitation was rejected as the leaf landed on the ground. I watched the leaves move for several minutes, and slowly the leaves, making their gentle music, lulled me to sleep.

[From a work in progress]