[Poetry Friday] Lines in the Sand: New Writing on War and Peace

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Myra here.

I am glad to be joining the Poetry Friday community hosted this week by the lovely Jone from Check it Out.

As most of you may be aware, our current reading theme until the first week of September has to do with Tales of War and Poetry, Refuge and Peace.

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I borrowed this book from our library several times in the past, but have never had the chance to actually read it. Several weeks ago, I managed to finally find the time to read its heartrending thoughts and its messages of hope.

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Unlike other books on war and peace, this collection contains letters, illustrations, folk tales, animal tales, short stories, fragments from longer novels, and most of all poetry. It is divided into six major themes: The Road to War, Captive Audience, Strange Meetings, In the Ruins, The World We Made, and Seeds of Hope. While some of the stories felt disconnected to me, lacking the narrative context from which they were culled from, what worked for me the most in this book was the poetry. I also thought that full-color illustrations would have made the book infinitely more attractive and something that a young reader may want to pick up. I understand though that there may be a few limitations concerning publication as this is a fund-raising endeavor.

The book does not just touch on one particular country or society but explores the warring Greeks and Turks, the children from Iraq, Guernica and Britain, Europe during the time of the Holocaust, the Croatian and Serbian armies and their children, Bosnia, Africa, Vietnam and so much more. As an adult reading the book, I am overwhelmed by the many wars that occur in so many places all around the globe. And this book is an attempt to give voice to the disenfranchised, the voiceless, the displaced, the dead.

In the Introduction written by the editors Mary Hoffman and Rhiannon Lassiter, they noted:

In places like Nigeria, Israel, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Kosovo, Rwanda, Vietnam, the Falklands, Iran and Iraq, bombs, bullets and landmines have done their deadly work. But they don’t do it on their own; people have to fly the planes, pull the triggers, lay the mines….

…. The writers and artists who have contributed to this anthology want you to know what has been going on in the world for the last fifty years or so. But they don’t want to make you despair about the future of the human race. You, the children of today, are the ones with the power to make it stop. Tomorrow, when you are the grown-ups, you can make the world a more peaceful place.

As I finished reading this relatively-lengthy collection, I was struck by how I am writing now from a position of privilege, not having experienced what the frightened children, the grieving mothers, the dying soldiers have gone through in a time of escalating conflict where so much bile and hatred color one’s thoughts and existence. I find that writing my thoughts about the book may be one of the ways through which I can honor their grief, their pain, and their hopes. All profits and royalties from the purchase of this book go to UNICEF’s emergency appeal for the children of Iraq.

For my Poetry Friday offering, here are a few of the poems that stood out for me. And just like I usually do, I took a photo of the page and edited it using an iPhone app.

Far Be It by Carol Ann Duffy

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My Windowsill by Sandra Horn

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Free World by Hiawyn Oram

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Lines in the Sand: New Writing on War and Peace. Edited by Mary Hoffman and Rhiannon Lassiter. Published by The Disinformation Company, 2003. All profits and royalties to UNICEF’s emergency appeal for the children of Iraq. Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

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Reading Challenge Update: 193 (25)

13 Comments on [Poetry Friday] Lines in the Sand: New Writing on War and Peace

  1. Another poweful anthology, Myra – Duffy’s poem, in particular, haunts me. We’ve seen more and more children suffer the consequences of adult evil. Just breaks your heart, doesn’t it…this ceaseless violence?

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  2. I can imagine why it took you some time to pick up this book. Your theme this month has not been an easy one to willingly swallow, though much beautiful poetry has come of it. Love that Hiawyn Oram poem!

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  3. Becky Shillington // August 29, 2014 at 10:49 pm // Reply

    So beautiful and so POWERFUL, Myra. Thank you so much for sharing these!

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  4. Another must read, Myra! Thank you for sharing these important books.

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  5. Power and poignant poems, and heartbreaking, especially “My Windowsill.”

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  6. WOW – this sounds like a powerful book! Thanks for telling us about it!

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  7. It’s been so worrisome, most recently in the news, but other years too. Thank you for sharing, Myra. There are always several students in the older classes who start their unit investigations with the questions “Why is there war?” This book may be a helpful source of the broader outlook first. I loved My Windowsill, sweet to think about that young person watching the stars.

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  8. This sounds like a weighty, important book. But it’s sad that books like this have to be written.

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  9. Love the ‘Free World’ poem – thanks for sharing it!

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  10. maryleehahn // August 30, 2014 at 7:32 pm // Reply

    There is so much war and conflict in the news these days, and we just can’t ignore it from our privileged safe places. Thank you for sharing this important book.

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  11. Karen Edmisten // August 31, 2014 at 9:07 am // Reply

    Wow, yes — difficult and powerful and moving and heartbreaking.

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  12. Hi, Myra–

    Reading your selections and especially the editors’ introduction, I see that we have a terrible conundrum–how will the children of today–tomorrow’s adult–know how they must sacrifice to avoid the horror of war, if we don’t teach them about it when they’re children? And how can we expose the children of today to the horror of war in good conscience? I guess this book is one way. Thank you for sharing it.

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  13. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this collection with us, Myra. I particularly like “My Windowsill.”

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