American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
From the editor's desk
Searching for one poem by Grace Paley to print for you, to accompany our invitation on the back page of this Peacework to come and hear her read from her work at the Pat Farren Lecture, we accumulated a large collection of favorites. Hard choice. So we invite you to second guess us (Begin Again: Collected Poems, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2001). Better yet, come September 20 to hear her for yourself.
One clear choice we might have made, to set the tone or serve as epigram for this 2001 Summer Reading issue (which has very little light beach reading in it, alas), is Paley's poem called "Responsibility."
It is the responsibility of society to let the poet be a poet...
This Peacework starts out with a large review essay by Zia Mian on geography, history, and an uncertain future; a classic reading list on ecology and politics; and two maverick novels--all about principalities and power.
It is the responsibility of the poet to be lazy to hang out
We go on to review essays on peacemaking in the midst of war: first, about journalists' accounts of our atomic bombings, a film-maker's revision of Pearl Harbor, and a suggestion that the anti-war community broaden its horizons as it roams the Internet. Three important books consider nonviolence--that "force more powerful than war" the poet Denise Levertov has named for us. Do you remember reading Johnny Tremain? Peacework's young volunteer Eoin Gaj pairs it with another coming-of-age story set in the time of the American Revolution--the one written during WWII, the other during Vietnam. Eoin offers us a classic lesson in bias and point of view. The memoir Without Vodka presents the same lesson, painfully learned by one young man over the course of one war. Finally, peace studies scholar Michael True, looking at the profoundly anti-war poetry of Stanley Kunitz and Karl Shapiro, reminds us of Kunitz's question: "To whom can one pledge his allegiance except to the victims?"
It is the poet's responsibility to speak truth to power
Peacework's next section takes its title from a line in Walter Mosley's Walkin' the Dog: "All he thought was that he had to stand up without killing." The subject is racism in America. There's a chilling overview from the National Coalition Against Censorship, a great list of the Myers outstanding books from last year on bigotry and power, a ramble through "The Boondocks," images from the South Bronx, and voices of incarcerated young men. Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons call our society's racism right-wing populism and they say its endemic. A children's librarian has found a cluster of kids' books by Ann Cameron that provide a healthy antidote.
It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times: there
The next review--David Thoreen on Carol Bly's stories--defies categories. Doubly true about Fred Marchant's journey through the landscape and literature of depression which concludes this issue of Peacework. Paley has this to say:
It is the responsibility of the poet to listen to gossip and