Women Against the War
March 9, 2003

Women Poets and Prose writers will voice their concerns about the current state of The United States, especially the rush to war. Included will be dramatic readings from Lysistrata, Aristophanes’ great anti-war drama which, with comedic overtones, glorifies the power of fertility in the face of destruction. Written in 412 B.C.E., in the 20th year of the Peloponnesian War, the women in Lysistrata are saying, “We will produce no more children for men to use as the fodder of war.” What has made Lysistrata one of the greatest plays ever written is its central eternal idea: Peace is survival and a female yearning; war is a male phallic aberration. Although everyone is invited the readings will be by women only in the order that they sign up. Those who email advanced registration will read first.

Update: Feb 14, 2003

Philadephia Poets for Peace to participate in NO WAR ON IRAQ March and Rally, Feb 15, 2003 beginning at State Office Bldg.(Broad & Spring Garden) to the Liberty Bell (5th & Market) with Rally taking place at 4th & Arch. March begins at NOON, Rally starts around 3PM. Some poets will be marching, others will be reading during the rally. Please introduce yourself to us!

Subject: We Will Not Be Silenced!!!!
Date: Mon, 03 Feb 2003 17:14:07 -0500

Fellow poets,

As you might be accutely aware, On Feb. 12th, 2003, a symposium on ``Poetry and the American Voice'' at the White House was to have featured the works of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman. The event was canceled by the first lady Laura Bush after learning that one of the invited poets, Sam Hamill, urged the others who had been invited to protest the looming war with Iraq at the event. "It came to the attention of the First Lady's Office that some invited guests want to turn what is intended to be a literary event into a political forum,'' a White House statement said. ''While Mrs. Bush understands the right of all Americans to express their political views, this event was designed to celebrate poetry.''

Today Larry Robin asked me to contact the organization coordinating a national day of peace poetry, Feb 12, 2003 so that we can say what Laura Bush and this administration would prefer to not hear....NO WAR IN IRAQ!

United Poets, a spin-off of Larry Jaffe's "Poets for Peace" initiative is behind this campaign

I have scheduled a 7PM reading at Robin's so that poets can meet and respond to this attempted silencing of our voices by those who want to beat their war drums (with ears plugs) but who will not themselves bleed or die. Please let me know if you can make it, and please pass this along to people you know who would likely attend.

7 - 9:15PM

Poetry & Special Events
Robin's Bookstore
Claire McGuire

Additional background on story

White House Cancels Poetry Symposium

Jan 30, 5:17 AM (ET)

NEW YORK (AP) - The White House postponed a poetry
symposium out of concerns it would be politicized
after some poets said they wanted to protest military
action against Iraq.
The symposium on the poetry of Emily Dickinson,
Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman had been scheduled
for Feb. 12. No future date has been announced for the
event, to be held by first lady Laura Bush.

"While Mrs. Bush respects the right of all Americans
to express their opinions, she, too, has opinions and
believes it would be inappropriate to turn a literary
event into a political forum," Noelia Rodriguez, a
spokeswoman for the first lady, said Wednesday.

Mrs. Bush, a former librarian who has made teaching
and early childhood development her signature issues,
has held a series of White House symposiums to salute
America's authors. The gatherings are usually lively
affairs with discussions of literature and its impact
on society.

But the poetry symposium quickly inspired a nationwide
protest. Sam Hamill, a poet and editor of the highly
regarded Copper Canyon Press, declined the invitation
and e-mailed friends asking for antiwar poems or

"Make February 12 a day of Poetry Against the War. We
will compile an anthology of protest to be presented
to the White House on that afternoon," the e-mail

He had expected about 50 responses; he's gotten more
than 1,500, including contributions from W.S. Merwin,
Adrienne Rich and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Hamill will
post all the submissions on a Web site he expects to
have ready early next week.

"I'm putting in 18-hour days. I'm 60 and I'm tired,
but it's pretty wonderful," says Hamill, author of
such works as "Destination Zero" and "Gratitude."
Copper Canyon Press, based in Port Townsend, Wash.,
published last fall's winner of the National Book
Award for poetry, Ruth Stone's "In the Next Galaxy."

White House invitations have inspired protests before.
In 1965, poet Robert Lowell refused to attend a White
House arts festival, citing opposition to the Vietnam

Marilyn Nelson, Connecticut's poet laureate, said
Wednesday she had accepted her invitation to the
poetry symposium and criticized the White House for
trying to silence the voice of American artists.

"I had decided to go because I felt my presence would
promote peace," she said. "I had commissioned a fabric
artist for a silk scarf with peace signs painted on
it. I thought just by going there and shaking Mrs.
Bush's hand and being available for the photo ops, my
scarf would make a statement."

Another state poet laureate, New Jersey's Amiri
Baraka, was also involved in a recent political
controversy. Baraka wrote a poem implying Israel had
advance knowledge of the 2001 terrorist attacks,
leading critics to call for his resignation.

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