Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Newsletter 2 - 2011

World Poetry Day - 21 March 2011

From her poem - in memory of Sonja Skarstedt

Van Gogh

In my left palm a straw hat

Collects bits of shade

My hair culls blisters of sun

My eyes emit shards of night

My beard is a fireclaw

A blue kerchief streams

From my right vest pocket, a colleague

To appease the dust of this street.

Editorial remarks (2 - 2011)

(see as well Newsletter 1 - 2011)

To remember Sonja Skarstedt means also to remember that this courageous human being died after a huge battle against cancer. She lived in Montreal where she had been both a publisher and a poetess of the highest quality. Her observations of other human beings were most amazing. This she revealed in the characters which would make their appearances in her theatrical plays. She would have surely pondered what can be said when birds settle into trees to announce the coming of spring?

This spring time is marked above all by what has happened in Egypt and Tunisia. Surely Sonja Skarstedt would have rejoiced at the news that people of the Middle East are finally discovering their voices to match a recently found political courage. All that can be reflected insofar as the freedom song by the blue bird of Egypt is heard once again. It symbolizes this newly found political maturity.

Unfortunately not only in Libya, but also elsewhere in Syria, Yemen and other places gunfires attempt to drown out this song of freedom and to silence the poets before they could join in this freedom song together with the birds in springtime.

Poems remember what truth has existed before. It is all about human dignity and self confidence, something that Homer knew how to bestow to people of his time.

Michael D. Higgins explained that every poet knews when the poem he or she writes is made. Nothing more needs to be added or something changed. All by themselves such poems make their appearance when people are touched by a sense of truthfulness and freedom. Thus poetry conveys a conviction that there exist peaceful ways to assume political responsibility and contradict those who claim violence is needed as a way to stay in power or else to make ones way into power. No, just a simple touch of truth is needed to stay in tune and then the poem does by itself what Louis Armstrong describes as "rhythms saved well".

There are the poets like Pablo Neruda who called Ritsos his brother. Neruda ended his life with a confession that he had lived well, and this despite having been often chased or forced to stay in exile. In the end, first his friend Allende died at the hands of Pinochet in September 1973 and soon thereafter followed the poet. There was grief in the air but who will forget when Neruda received the Nobel prize? Afterwards they created a film about him to the tune of 'Hey, Mr. Postman'?

Lyrical laughter can overcome dictatorship and those who have thirst for only blood. Often violence results out of being in power but without any moral legitimacy. Thus they can only revenge themselves for not being human by instigating inhuman actions, including torture and abuse. That is why the song of freedom relates to the need to overcome as well the voice of betrayal within.

The song of freedom

Thoughts fade away into the grey sky,
dexterity is the name cast into the sea
when forgotten are kisses by strangers
no longer called Judas
for the voice of betrayal comes from within
as the darkened soul fears nothing more
than the light which can brush away shadows
of those grey figures of power and abuse
always looming large and tall
in the corner of the eye
imaging a blue bird singing the song of freedom
like Egyptians used to hear near the Nile.

HF Athens 5.2.2011

On this day of world poetry, 21.3.2011, it can be remembered that the Egyptians have just voted on their constitutional amendments. All the more will it be important that the freedom song is not now silenced by what is happening in Libya on the same day when poets wish to celebrate the world day of poetry. For missiles strike Libya after the no fly zone has been imposed. The message changes automatically in the media. On television are no longer shown people freeing themselves from the fear of dictatorship, but the military might of the West. That includes aircraft carriers and jets landing or taking off to fly another mission. All this is led by France and Sarkozy who uses this to distract from the fact that members of his government have been found just recently spending holidays in Libya and courting even Gaddafi. The same applies for such a famous school like London School of Economics. They gave to Gaddafi's son a Ph.D. and promptly they received a donation of 1 1/2 million pounds. Absurd is, therefore, the claim by the Western military and politicians that all of this is done to protect civilians against the possible onslaught of Gaddafi's army. For who can guarantee no more civilian deaths occur in a deadly all out war and especially when missiles rain now out of the sky?

The earthquake, Tsunami and the risk of a nuclear meltdown in Japan since March 11

There followed the human earthquake in the Middle East a terrible earthquake in Japan on Friday, March 11. It measured 8.9 on the Richterscale. The quake under the sea triggered off a huge Tsunami wave. In its wake not only entire coastal areas were destroyed but it has sparked off new concerns about the safety of nuclear power stations especially in Fukushima. A lot of questions need to be asked as to why a nuclear power station over 40 years of age was allowed to stand so close to the sea especially if everyone remembers what the Tsunami could do in Indonesia 2004! Also the operators of the nuclear plant and the regulators were too closely enmeshed as to guarantee full safety inspections. But as Jonathan Schell would argue in his article 'From Hiroshima to Fukushima' there will be always some human error and therefore it is best to stay away from nuclear energy.

As to Sendai where the airport and most of that town being so close to the sea coast was destroyed, something else took place there just one month before the Tsunami struck.


The Kids' Guernica mural of Sendai Feb. 2011

As explained in a letter by Takuya Kaneda, international coordinator of Kids' Guernica in Japan:

"Coincidentally, one of the founders of this project, Prof. Toshifumi Abe and his colleague, Prof. Yoshiko Motoya coordinated a Kids' Guernica workshop last month in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, and a part of the affected areas by this massive earthquake on March 11. The workshop was organized by a group called MAGO3 aiming to realize a lifelong learning project from grandparents to grandchildren. Sendai City is a native place of Prof. Yoshiko Motoya, a leader of this group. Her house was not damaged but an elementary teacher who had supported this workshop lost her house. They are now working for the victims in Sendai city."

- Takuya Kaneda, 19.3.2011

Sendai means in Japanese the city of 'thousand generations'. Therefore it was most appropriate to have an inter generational dialogue taking place there. The interesting question is now if the mural points in any way towards an immanent danger? Birds and animals sense the big bang coming and flee to higher grounds. On the other hand, human beings can become too complacent due to no major earthquake having take place since 1995 and fail to address in public some of the dangers which go with unwarrented liscences to operate things a great risk to humanity. Even though the Japanese society has learned its drills and schools go through regular exercises, there was applied an information policy which did not arouse Japanes society in its apprehension about nuclear power despite Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even though there happen throughout the year almost regularly small ripples but such a big one was not expected. Only this may explain why no public outcry objected to the nuclear plant of Fukushima being directly beside the sea and this despite the huge Tsunami which had devastated Indochina in 2004.

Now that the Japanese society faces the prospects of radiation fall out from the nuclear reactors in Fukushima, people have to prepare for the worst. Interestingly enough Chernobyl was a topic at the recent Kids' Guernica conference held in Gent, Belgium on Feb. 18th. Boudewijn Payens, an artist from Amsterdam, explained that he created with other artists an imaginary ship to go on a voyage with those who were still left stranded in the area close to Chernobyl and this ten years after it happened. The problem of radiation escapes our senses. For it cannot be smelled, touched, heard, tasted nor sensed. It is invisible but still there as radiation which contaminates everything from special food like spinach to water and milk. In recalling that first of May in Berlin West when people still went out on walks since a sunny day and only realizing during the day as the news spread as to what happened in Chernobyl, they learned too late that it would have been much better for them to stay inside. Alone Chernobyl can be taken to imagine what lies ahead for the Japanese people.

Appropriately there shall be opened a Kids' Guernica exhibition on this day of world poetry, namely 21st of March 2011. The exhibition is being organised by Alexandra Zanne from Gezoncourt, a small community close to Mets and Nancy in France. Besides their mural they will exhibit one other mural, namely the Japanese one showing cherry blossoms reaching into the sky. The Japanese celebrate the cherry blossoms every year. It has been coined by them into a kind of philosophical saying about being like the cherry blossoms sweet and short. 200 people from the age of 2 to 80 participated in making this mural by putting their prints on rice paper. That makes this mural so ever light and hence easy to be transported. May also peace come to Libya despite all set backs.


Cherry blossoms - Kids Guernica Japan

In that sense, may all reach with the Japanese people for the sky and all those in the Middle East hold onto their dream that a peaceful transition of power can be found to give them both dignity and freedom. Poets shall know insofar as the voices heard shall be singing during this spring time the freedom song of the blue bird.

Cultural action on Rhodes, May 27 - June 6, 2011

On a topic related to the aims of cultura21, curator Haroula Hadjinicolaou is organizing on behalf of Poiein kai Prattein a multi-disciplinary workshop on Rhodes under the poetic theme "imperishable water" or in Greek:

« Τ' άφθαρτα νερά* και η προβληματική της ανάπτυξης»

The workshop will examine the concept of development which is reinforced on an island like Rhodes especially by the tourist industry. The methodology shall include artistic, philosophical and ecological approaches to the environment, in particular to the wetlands on Rhodes, and therefore by extrapolating the metaphor of 'imperishable water', a term taken from a poem by Katerina Anghelaki Rooke, aims to enrich the understanding of what it takes to attain not just any, but sustainable development.

Hatto Fischer

Athens 20.3.2011

*Poets including Katerina Anghelaki Rooke gave this name to this NGO existing since 2002. The house depicted as logos can be found in the Kids' Guernica mural called ‘The War is Over’. It was the first contribution of Poiein kai Prattein to Kids’ Guernica when celebrating its 10th Anniversary in Ubud, Bali 2005. There followed exhibitions in Crete and Chios, and October 2007 in Athens. It was linked with the ECCM Symposium 'Productivity of Culture'. The recommendation was made then Kids' Guernica should be linked to every city which becomes European Capital of Culture. That is slowly become reality as expressed by the Kids' Guernica conference held in Gent, Feb. 18, 2011 with link to Wroclaw 2016 in Poland, and San Sebastian and Burgos in Spain.


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