Wise Man Tell Me The Truth: Music From Afghanistan

It has been six years since two Berkeley students dreamed up the Afghan Music Project, a project which supports music teachers in Afghanistan who are doing their best to keep the country’s rich musical culture alive amid the still-felt destruction of the Taliban and still unfolding war. Leading up to the anniversary of the U.S. invasion, 10YAC aims to counter that destruction and that war, and celebrate that music with a song from the album, recorded in a secret studio in Kabul and available through iTunes.

Here is  Wise Man Tell Me the Truth (Ai Mardi Aaqil Ba Man Raast Bugo), produced in October 2005 by the Afghan Music Project.

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Budget Debate Is Not About Taxes, It’s About Outsourcing Public Services: An article by 10YAC’s Camille Gage

The Iraq War shows us the huge profits corporations reap when they take over the role of government:

What do war and the battle over taxes have in common? The move towards profit and privatization.

The budget negotiations that led to the shutdown in Minnesota and the near shutdown of the US government are about much more than money. This is also more than an ideological battle over the role of taxes in society, or over social issues like stem cell research,  a ban on which the Republican majority disingenuously attached to the budget bill.

If you look carefully at the other states that have been embroiled in controversy this year – states such as Wisconsin, with the long battle over collective bargaining, and Michigan, where emergency managers have been appointed by the Governor to take over control of struggling towns and school systems – a pattern emerges.

Untitled, War Redacted Series. Camille J. Gage.

These battles are about more than taxes or collective bargaining; they are part of a much larger ideological fight over the future privatization of services currently performed by government. It is a battle to open enormous new markets and opportunities for potential profit, profits that will be paid for directly by taxpayers in Minnesota and elsewhere.

For an example of how this might play out one need look no further than the war in Iraq. In Iraq, for the first time ever, much of the support work that had for generations been performed by the military was outsourced,  almost all of it to a handful  of companies that profited mightily from the war. On close inspection one sees that American taxpayers have not received good value for their money. The largest military contractors in Iraq have been found guilty of fraud, overbilling, and waste of resources that have cost the government billions of dollars. Meanwhile, as our tax dollars are squandered, the profits of these companies soar. Adding insult to injury, one of the largest of these companies, Halliburton, moved its corporate headquarters from Texas to Dubai in 2007 to avoid paying U.S. taxes on much of its income and profit.

Imagine a future where our roads are maintained, our bridges are built, and our students are taught by employees of companies whose headquarters are not in Minnesota, or Wisconsin, or even the United States, and whose shareholders demand larger dividends and whose CEOs make hundreds of millions a year. Is this the future we want for our country?

Government is not a for-profit entity. Government at its best delivers essential services and responsible stewardship of community resources at a good value to its citizenry. It is time we accept that taxes – well-spent – are a necessary investment in our infrastructure and our future, and concentrate on how to encourage efficiency and minimize waste. It’s also time that we return to proportionate taxation, where those who benefit the most pay the most. Doing so is an essential part of any long-term solution to the ongoing and divisive battles over the budget.

Camille J. Gage is a Minneapolis-based artist and musician and the project coordinator for 10 Years + Counting. This essay was originally published at onthecommons.org.

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Poetry of Provocation and Witness from Split This Rock: Poem #10

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100

for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana, 
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
where the gas burned blue on every stove
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.
Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
who worked that morning because another dishwasher
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

After the thunder wilder than thunder,
after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in
Fajardo,
like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have. 

– Martín Espada

Used With Permission.

Martín Espada has published seventeen books in all as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. The Republic of Poetry, a collection of poems published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; his next collection, The Trouble Ball, is forthcoming from Norton in spring 2011. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

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Peace Piece

Peace Piece (from Everybody Digs Bill Evans, 1958)  

The great jazz pianist Bill Evans (1929–1980) was in a studio playing around on the keys while waiting to record his version of “Some Other Time,” from Leonard Bernstein’s musical On the Town. The two opening chords of the Bernstein song led Evans into an improvisation that what would become one of his most famous compositions. There are many versions of “Peace Piece” to link to—although none by Evans himself. An admirer has described the piece as “more a mood than a composition.” We ilke that this particular link is illustrated with an image from the 1969 Woodstock Festival concert for peace and love. We’re in the mood for love, and peace.

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Poster Girl: An interview with Filmmaker Sara Nesson

Minneapolis curator and arts writer Tricia Khutoretsky interviewed Sara Nesson, the Academy-award nominated filmmaker of Poster Girl,  for 10 Years + Counting:

While shooting footage for the soon-to-be-completed Iraq Paper Scissors, a documentary about veterans on a healing journey, vérité filmmaker Sara Nesson met the remarkable Robynn Murray. The emotional story of this former cheerleader turned machine gunner and Iraq war veteran battling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, became Nesson’s Academy Award Nominated documentary short, Poster Girl, airing this November on HBO. I caught up with Nesson to learn more about her experience with such difficult subject matter, her relationship with Robynn Murray, her thoughts on war and a glamorous momentary escape to the Oscars.

Robynn’s outlet for expression was through art with the Combat Paper Project, and this is where you started your filming with her. How do you see art working as a healing tool?

It wasn’t about creating things that are beautiful or pleasing for the eye. The veterans engaged in art but I don’t think they thought of it as therapy. Cutting their uniforms up required using their entire bodies. By the time they were done they were sweating. Through that process of exertion they were able to let their minds drift into anger and frustration. In a community setting, this physical action led to sharing stories. Feelings would come pouring out of them – laughter, bitching. The art allowed them to let go. Once the resentment subsided a little bit, they were able to put images and thoughts into their art, and suddenly the angry feelings turned into something beautiful. It became one long healing process. I really do think art therapy works, it helps a lot of people not just veterans.

What was it like to be there with a camera while the veterans were going through such difficult experiences? Did you ever feel like you were intruding?

It was definitely different with the guys than with Robynn and Jennifer. The women didn’t have as many walls up as the men did. I don’t know if this was because I’m a female, so the men found it harder to relate to me or let go in front of me. Underneath it all, though, I think they knew I cared about them and that I was trying to do something important. I think they just trusted that I was going to help society understand what it means to be a veteran.

Do you think by filming you provided some comfort for them as well?

I don’t want to sugarcoat it, because it wasn’t all peaches. Sometimes I would show up and, if they were having a bad day, they didn’t want the camera around. They were fine when I filmed them doing art, that was never a problem. But if I was going to honestly portray what it was like for them, I had to film them going through the hell as well. It was a big source of contention because intellectually they understood, but emotionally it was too hard for them. I hated pushing it because I didn’t want them feel that they didn’t have a choice. They always had a choice. Months would go by and if they kept saying no, I would wonder what I was doing it for. It was especially hard with the guys and became a bit of a struggle for me.

What changed? Despite the struggles, how did you end up with enough footage to make both Poster Girl and your almost finished film, Iraq Paper Scissors?

I started to realize that I had seen enough veterans cutting up uniforms and making paper, and I needed to see how it was affecting a larger community of veterans. So I invited everyone to come to Martha’s Vineyard for a week to do a combat paper and writing retreat. That’s where I met Robynn. It was so refreshing to work with someone like her. She didn’t have any walls up and she was so open to articulating what was happening to her, even on her bad days. I filmed Robynn over the course of a year, and that footage turned into Poster Girl. All of it I shot with the intention of her being part of Iraq Paper Scissors.

Working with Robynn for so long, how did your relationship develop?

From the very beginning, when I asked her if I could film her at home, we became close. I got to know her mom and other people in her life. I think it was easy for her to trust me because I had been filming her for the other film and she saw the footage of that, with all her new friends in it. But I think we had an instant friendship and trust.

Some people just connect, which might be what makes your film so powerful. What is your relationship now? I know that you sometimes travel with her to speak about Poster Girl, how often do you see each other?

We actually just had a reunion in Martha’s Vineyard. We showed Poster Girl at a film festival there, which was really exciting for us. We are also in the early stages of turning Poster Girl into a feature film, and I hope that Robynn will write it. She’s an amazing writer. She’s never written a screenplay but we’ll have help in that area.

Will it be adapted exactly from the documentary, just in a Hollywood format?

It’s not going to be Hollywood, it will be an independent film. We’re trying to keep it raw. We want it to feel real, almost like the documentary but we’ll get a chance to go more into her story. There is so much more to her story that I didn’t have the luxury of going into with a short documentary film.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge of making it into a film? Is there anything that scares you about that process?

It’s been a challenging process for the last five months, since the Oscars. I’ve been wondering– is this going in the right direction? Can I trust the people who are telling me how I should do it? Should I take it into my own hands and do it in my own way? Making independent films is scary because you have to raise all the money. It’s almost impossible to make a film these days! But Robynn is a remarkable person — we’ve had some offers. As long as Robyn is a part of it, she gets to tell her story, and we work with people we trust, I think we can do it.

Speaking of the Oscars, how did you both feel about getting nominated? That must have been surreal.

It was amazing. It was crafted for the Oscars, at least that’s what HBO told me when they picked it up to help me finish it. They said, “We’ll qualify it for an Oscar,” but they said it so nonchalantly that I thought, “that sounds like a big deal but you aren’t saying it like it is.” And sure enough, it got shortlisted for an Oscar nomination. The longest wait of my life, three months to find out if the film got nominated from the shortlist, was torture. Of course when we found out, Robynn and I felt like it was our moment to shine after going through hell together, and be like Cinderella for a day. I felt like we deserved that.

I thought it was amazing that you got recognized with such difficult subject matter, veterans and PTSD, which people seem shut off to.

Sara and Robynn at the Oscars

That was exactly what went through my mind. By getting the Oscar nomination it seemed at that moment, that my goal was met, for people to see all of these amazing stories and just know about them. That is what I would have said, had I won. But that’s why I want to do the feature film, to reach a larger audience and keep getting these stories out there.

What is the story you want out there? Considering how much your film(s) evolved, is your message the same?

In the beginning it was about the veterans who were making incredible art and setting such a great example by taking responsibility for their own healing. I shifted from that to showing how maddening the VA process can be. When I met Robynn, my goal was to film her from filling out her claims, to getting her doctor evaluations, hopefully to getting her disability compensation, and finally getting help. I wanted to show how hard that process is. The suicide rate for veterans is 18 suicides per day because the help that is available is not working. When I took it to HBO, my editor kept asking the question, why don’t people care about PTSD? People don’t care because they don’t understand it. It became important to have people empathize. Robynn had to tell it like it is — everything from punching a hole in the wall to talking about flashbacks and being in Iraq. It is a vivid, raw experience for the person watching. I started to realize that this isn’t so much a story as it is a visceral experience.

It also seems different coming from a female perspective. I think this is incredibly rare and that resonates.

That was a bonus! I wasn’t setting out to make a film about a female warrior. But she speaks for both genders. It certainly isn’t sex specific.

A focus of the 10 Years and Counting project is to recognize the impact of a decade at war. What do you want people to know about war based on what you have experienced making these films?

I get asked a lot if I am trying to tell people not to serve in the war. I really don’t think that I can make the kind of film that will change the world. But I think the important thing is that this film educates. By enlisting, you might think you’ll get good skills for life or be a hero, but the truth is you can’t go off to war and not be affected in some way. I hope people take from this film that war will change you on many levels. It is important to know that before making a choice about enlisting. Maybe awareness will keep them from being shocked about the difficulties of coming home, if they can’t function, focus or get a job. These are the things adding to a dysfunctional cycle for war veterans.

Hopefully also from your film, society overall might realize the weight and cost of war on both lost lives and lives that come home?

Yes, they are equally damaged. Lost souls come home. A part of them almost does die there, as Robyn says in the film. The fact that we have 18 veterans a day committing suicide is an epidemic. We can’t blame Osama, Hussein or unnamed terrorists for that. We can only blame ourselves for that.

Sara Nesson is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker. Both her films POSTER GIRL and IRAQ PAPER SCISSORS (work-in-progress) intimately follow Iraq War Veterans as they embark on an unusual  journey while coping with PTSD. Sara has directed and filmed projects all over the world, from medical pilgrimages across the mountains of Tibet to endangered species in Japan and Siberia. Sara continues to work in sponsored films and commercials, and is currently in development of her first narrative feature based on POSTER GIRL. Sara is the founder of Portrayal Films, Inc., based in Brooklyn, NY.
Tricia Khutoretsky is an independent curator and arts writer in Minneapolis. Working with the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, she is currently managing a state-wide tour of Navigating the Aftermath, which includes a curated exhibit of contemporary Iraqi and American art that reacts to the impact of the Iraq war. Previous projects involve dialogue for healing between Iraqis and Americans through art. A project in development will focus on an Iraqi female perspective. Khutorestsky also works with Permanent Art and Design, as a curator for its two unique art spaces, XYandZ Gallery and Co Exhibitions.
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ANOTHER LIFE: 10 Years + Counting Interviews New York Playwright Karen Malpede

1. Please describe your project. What inspired you to tackle this issue?

The 9/11 Performance Series will present three plays—an acclaimed revival and two world premieres—that are a counter-narrative of the past 10 years: the stories  of a Pakistani-American family, Muslim immigrants in France, and of those complicit in the U.S. torture program. The three new plays by Wajahat Ali, CA, Jeton Neziraj, Kosovo, and myself (NY) are certain to provoke. The rise of Islamophobia, violence and greed is ripe for reflection as we mark the decade since the 9/11 terrorist attacks as the theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice becomes the venue fit to challenge and revise the collective narrative.

2. What have you learned from this project? Were there any surprising outcomes?

Writing a play about the U.S. torture program led me to lawyers who graciously shared their experiences and to much other research that was harrowing and horrible.  My challenge was to put this material into a play that is entertaining, enlightening, horrifying, and totally engrossing.  I hope.

3. How do you wage peace each day? Any pointers for the rest of us?

I do yoga.  I have two lovely cocker spaniels.  I cook.  I try to be kind to my friends and family.  I try to stay human in the face of all the horror. It’s important to teach, on the street, in the classroom.  But, more and more, I find the most important thing one can do is to Listen.  If you listen to people and allow them to speak, they sooner or later get to the truth of their own hearts. They figure it out.  Listening is a profound act of resistance in times like these.

4. If applicable, how can people get involved in your project?

We need help spreading the word about the 9/11 Performance Series.  We need audience!  We could use volunteers to help us staff the book tables. We could use a practiced stage manager, too.  Email us at info@theaterthreecollaborative.org.

5. Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Acts of War: Iraq & Afghanistan in Seven Plays (Northwestern University Press, 2011) includes my play Prophecy and six other extraordinary antiwar plays by major British and American writers: Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo;9 Circles by Bill Cain; The Vertical Hour by David Hare; A Canopy of Stars by Simon Stephens; American Tet by Lydia Stryk; No Such Cold Thing by Naomi Wallace.

About Another Life

A surreal, real, and satiric story of a mogul and his daughter locked in a titanic struggle, Another Life offers a whirlwind trip through the past ten years.  Greed, torture, war-lust and sexual enslavement vie with a subtle but growing resistance that leads to brave acts of caring and whistle-blowing.  Another Life employs inventive language and memorable characters to bring to light questions of complicity and conscience in civil society. For more information, visit www.theaterthreecollaborative.org. Also, see below for the schedule of performances of Another Life.

The performance schedule for Another Life is as follows:

September 8 at 5 pm, the Series kicks off with a panel of Guantanamo Lawyers discussing their experiences representing detainees and fighting for civil liberties, moderated by Kathleen Chalfant.  Theater Lobby. Free.
7:30 pm: An invited dress rehearsal of  Another Life at 7:30 pm, as a special treat for our patrons who have funded the production and for peace and human rights activists. For information/reservations visit here

Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 8pm
Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 1:30pm, followed by a JUST-US Dialogue with author Chris Hedges

Tickets to Another Life are $20 ($10 students)

Another Life was written and directed by Karen Malpede, and stars George Bartenieff, with Eunice Wong, Ariel Sharif, Omar Koury, Christen Clifford, Dorien Makhloghi
Co-Produced with Theater Three Collaborative

Karen Malpede in Kosovo during the talk back after "Another Life." Photo by Valon Bajgoraj.

Karen Malpede is the author, and frequently the director, of 16 plays, and co-founder of Theater Three Collaborative. She is lead editor and wrote the introduction for Acts of War: Iraq & Afghanistan in Seven Plays. On the second year-anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, she created “Iraq: Speaking of War” performed at the CUNY-Graduate Center and the Culture Project. “Prophecy” was produced in London in 2008 and in New York in 2010. She interviewed survivors and witnesses for the September 11, 2001, Memory and Oral History Project at Columbia University. She is recipient of a McKnight National Playwrights’ Fellowship.

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Poetry of Provocation and Witness from Split This Rock: Poem # 9

LOVE AND THE NATIONAL DEFENSE

If love were a dirty bomb, you could set
it off in Washington and it would spread
into the suburbs unseen, contaminate
the air and water. People would breathe it, feed

on it unknowingly and slowly love
would infiltrate their lungs, make their fingers burn.
In a week, you’d see them start to pair up, leave
the office early for lunch and not return;

even the evangelists are born again—
this time to love—they grab the nearest nun,
and scientists are too involved to look
for cures, not that anyone cares. Attack

on US, the foreign press reports
with real concern, seeing the SUVs
abandoned on the interstates, the airports
unguarded, army generals on their knees.

Don’t they know love is always like that,
tearing you out of the spaces you once thought
meant something, making you forget each
last defense, the guns rusting along the beach.

Holly Karapetkova

Used With Permission.

Dr. Holly,” earned her B.A. from Rice University, her M.F.A. from Georgia State University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. Her poems and translations have appeared in national literary journals, including The Crab Orchard Review, The Formalist, and The Marlboro Review. She has presented at the International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children, among other conferences. Her children’s poetry has been described as “refreshing,” and “engaging.” Dr. Holly teaches at Marymount University in Arlington, VA.

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OUT OF RUBBLE: Artist Susanne Slavick on Art and War

As a painter, I have depicted abused resources, misplaced priorities, and histories we forget only to repeat. Paintings allow dismantling hierarchies, inventing new cartographies, and exposing structures that generate the very conditions they were meant to prevent. After my son was born during the first Gulf War, the intellectual pacifism behind my work got emotional. Pietàs were the only possibility. With Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, I struggled with resignation and cynicism, wondering how art can really matter.

Responding to the ongoing disasters of war and the policies and conditions that lead to them, artists can condone or condemn. The challenge lies in finding a constructive stance. In the midst of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and years into our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, I tried to find a way to mourn the carnage and reveal the loss while offering a metaphoric restitution. The results were two series: R&R(…&R), that counters art historical and contemporary media representations of war with restorative interventions, and Horsepower Hubris, that questions violence and the valor that we all too frequently assign to it. I wanted to convert military expressions like “rest and recuperation” to words like “regret and restitution.” I wanted to convey the misery of the monumental getting caught up in its own machinery.

Susanne Slavick's Regenerate presents a bird nesting in rubble, the persistence of life despite the economic and military machines that perpetuate war. Motifs from the art and architecture of cultures under invasion are superimposed on images of wartime devastation. Confronting and considering the cultural heritage of peoples and places under attack remind us of what we stand to lose — the humanity of those we revere or the humanity of those we are urged to revile. Ignoring this would leave us with no culture at all.

Aware of the masters like Goya and Kollwitz whose portrayals of war haunt to this day, I began to seek out contemporary international artists who react to the wake of war—its realities and its representations. I collected some of their invariably somber responses in a book project, OUT OF RUBBLE. Unfortunately, witnessing and sifting the remains of traumas we inflict on ourselves and each other through state-sponsored or individual acts of violence never seems to end.

Artists wrestle constantly with the failure of images to represent the full complexity of lived reality, including war. Wrestling with theories and inquiries from Theodor Adorno to Elaine Scarry, we continue to ask whether the horror of violence can even be represented and, if so, how? Still, artists plunge into the impossible: trying to comprehend and convey the incomprehensible. The images they create are, as Susan Sontag describes in Regarding the Pain of Others, “an invitation to pay attention, to reflect, to learn, to examine the rationalizations for mass suffering offered by established powers,” asking: “Who caused what the picture shows? Who is responsible? Is it excusable? Was it inevitable?”

Such crucial questions inform and motivate contemporary artists as war and its ensuing wreckage continues to plague the planet. 

The rubble that each war leaves behind is also carried into the future, whether physically, psychologically, culturally or spiritually. Artists record, remember, reflect, re-purpose and restore that rubble—materially and conceptually, literally and metaphorically. Whether responding personally or collectively, they recognize what has been destroyed and speak to how (or whether) it can be restored or redeemed. Perhaps the best we can do is to strive for empathic unsettlement, which Dominick LaCapra defines as an emotional response that comes with respect for the other and the realization that the experience of the other is not one’s own.”2 The empathic response is, as Geoffrey Hartman posits, indispensable in art, but it must be checked: art’s “truest reason” is in expanding “the sympathetic imagination while teaching us about the limits of sympathy.”

Wafaa Bilal's The Ashes Series (2009) presents miniature sets based on media photographs of domestic interiors destroyed during the war in Iraq, including a room from Saddam Hussein’s palace with one ornate Louis XIV chair left standing amidst the former luxury. Twenty-one grams of human ashes are sifted with other organic cinders for the “set,” referring to the notion that the body loses that amount of weight with the soul’s departure. Invoking “body and soul” reinforces the subjective in face of journalism’s claim to objectivity and the human costs in face of terms like “collateral damage.”

Reflecting on war from a country with a long history of conflict, the Polish poet Wisława Szymborska wrote: “Reality demands that we mention this: Life goes on.” Artists face this demand through gestures both tentative (given the scope of loss) and blatant (given the severity of impact). They mourn the havoc we wreak and atone the atrocities we commit. They create narratives bound up in the crises of truth and expose lies that lead us to folly. Before and long after the rubble is cleared, they review, anticipate and sometimes lay ground for what needs to be rebuilt.

Laying this ground is a project beyond the scope of one book or even one hundred artists. It requires seeds from all sources and constant cultivation. Ten Years + Counting (10YAC) collects tools, ideas and projects just sprouting and in full bloom. The yield promises to be high.

Parts of this article were adapted from the introduction to OUT OF RUBBLE, published in 2011 by Charta Art Books, Milan, available now in Europe and at the end of October in the USA .
OUT OF RUBBLE artists featured in the 10YAC gallery include: Wafaa Bilal, Enrique Castrejon, Monica Haller, Andrew Ellis Johnson, Curtis Mann, Samina Mansuri, Simon Norfolk, Elin O’Hara slavick, Susanne Slavick, and Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz. To see their work and more visit the 10 Years + Counting gallery.
1.        Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), 101-102.
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Droning for Peace

Technicolor Yawn’s DRONE FOR PEACE IN THE KEY OF F, presented here as part of the Olympia Experimental Music Festival and performed in the rotunda of the Capitol’s Legislative Building, manifests as a small ensemble of string players and vocalists, inviting all willing and interested participants from the community to collaborate and contribute to a call for peace through the lulling sounds of many notes sustained.

Olympia, Washington. 2011. Featuring: Brian Amsterdam (vocals), Rachel Asher (harmonium), Nur Greene (vocals), Derek M. Johnson (cello), Mike Long (cello), Yam Nightjar (bowed guitar), Michaud Savage (upright bass), Caitlin Sherwood (harp), Pearson Wallace-Hoyt (vocals), and more.

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Poetry of Provocation and Witness from Split This Rock: Poem #8

Eye

A rubber-coated metal bullet struck Ziad’s eye during clashes in Bethlehem. . . . His eyeball fell in the palm of his hand and . . . he kept holding it till he reached the hospital. He thought they could put it back in.

– Muna Hamzeh, Refugees in Our Own Land

What do you do with an eye in the cup of your hand?

What do you see that you didn’t?

What do you make of a sphere of jelly with fins of torn muscle?

What do your fingers impress on the rind?

Do you rush it to hospital, where a surgeon waits to fuse sight to vision?

Does the eye have a nationality? a history?

Does the eye have a user name?

Its own rubber bullet?

Where is the eye transcribed?

A little globe there and you are the keeper

Of the watery anteroom, the drink of clear glass

Dear eye

Once it lay snug in fat in its orbit

Once it saw as a child

Through humor a peppering of stars

-Lee Sharkey

From A Darker, Sweeter String, Off the Grid Press, 2008. Used by permission.

Lee Sharkey is the author most recently of A Darker Sweeter String (Off the Grid Press), of which Maine’s Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl says, “If our dreams could edit the news (and sometimes our nightmares) these poems are how they’d wake us up to the urgency of our times.” She is also the author of the book-length poem farmwife and To A Vanished World (both Puckerbrush Press), a poem sequence in response to Roman Vishniac’s photographs of Eastern European Jewry in the years just preceding the Nazi Holocaust. She lives in rural Maine, teaches a writing workshop for adults with mental illness, and stands in a weekly peace vigil with Women in Black.

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