make-a-crane

Category: Writing

Half the Sky

Just saw New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof speak at Brown University! Wonderful, invigorating presentation from a man doing a lot of good in this world. Kristof spoke of numerous women he has encountered through his work, expressed hope that us students would challenge ourselves to experience the new despite fear of the unknown, and presented a very nuanced reflection on just how much a difference we can make. We’ve won “the lottery of life,” he said — we’ve got a bit of responsibility to those who have not.

Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings is a must-read from Maria Popova for those who care about anything interesting! Subscribe for emails, check out recommended books, find some wise words, enjoy learning about life, love, writing… Here is the websites’ description:

Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.

 

“An online word-sculpture protesting the prison-industrial complex”

This is a wonderful idea:

“I Am Writing A Letter Each Day to My Brother Who Is In Prison For 4-15 Years” 

Here are posts.

“Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry”

Love these investigative multiple-page articles.

“A poem is a sword.” -Saheera Sharif

“Making love to an old man is like

Making love to a limp cornstalk blackened by fungus.”

-Gulmakai, 22, an Afghan woman whose father made her marry an old man at 15

Ecotopia

Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. Definitely going to read this.

Poetry

Maybe poetry is the closest thing to experiencing life again and again. And photography and creating and writing and synthesizing. So maybe experiencing life is a life experienced over and over again. So maybe, then, as all the Buddhist philosophers remind us, living in the moment is the only true way to experience life.

Before We Were Free

In the short historical novel Before We Were Free, Julia Alvarez writes of the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, a tumultuous time of government secret police, the dictator el Trujillo, brave rebels fighting for justice, family, immigration, and adolescence – all from a young girl’s perspective. A good, informative, moving read that made me cry and think. It made me think of the immigrant experience in America, of what countries “resort” to (embargoes, invasions) to “help” other countries, and how (if?) it is possible to attain peace without such measures. There is always a short and/or long-term cost, to being a bystander, indirectly interfering, and directly interfering.

Here is a quote from Julia Alvarez in the “About the Author” section:

“I believe stories have this power–they enter us, they transport us, they change things inside of us invisibly, so minutely, that sometimes we’re not even aware that we come out of a great book as a different person from the person we were when we began reading it.”

Not Ready to Make Nice

An autobiographical song standing by Natalie Maines’ remarks about Bush and the war in Iraq, as well as mentioning the subsequent death threats they received. Gives me chills.

Maybe There’s A World

Funny but endearing songwriting:

“I have dreamt of a place and time where nobody gets annoyed…”

“…All at once the palace of peace will fill my eyes, how nice…”

Also definitely agree with a commenter who wrote “i think Yusuf Islam is a symbol for peace.”

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights, according to the website.  What a wealth of information! You can find information by country and topic, watch videos, and learn about how you can help, such as by writing letters standing up for individuals at risk. (i.e. Liu Xiaobao would be an example, as would someone convicted of the death penalty.) Here is Amnesty International’s blog.

PEN

PEN American Center is the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization, according to the website. PEN has many programs, including a Prison Writing Program, Translation Committee, and the World Voices Program. Here is the explanation for the Prison Writing Program:

Founded in 1971, the PEN Prison Writing Program believes in the restorative and rehabilitative power of writing, by providing hundreds of inmates across the country with skilled writing teachers and audiences for their work. The program seeks to provide a place for inmates to express themselves freely with paper and pen and to encourage the use of the written word as a legitimate form of power. The program sponsors an annual writing contest, publishes a free handbook for prisoners, provides one-on-one mentoring to inmates whose writing shows merit or promise, conducts workshops for former inmates, and seeks to get inmates’ work to the public through literary publications and readings.

I believe that prisons need to be more related to peace in the rehabilitative sense, not only in the sense of punishment. Three Strikes, mandatory minimums, the “war on drugs,” and the tough political stance that politicians too often embrace must end. Putting people in boxes is not the answer.