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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Poets Against the War

In this time of war talk, the UMass campus is abuzz with anti-war events and flyers. One such event was held by Poets Against the War, who met in the Harbor Art Gallery last Wednesday at 1 for a poetry reading.

Held by the Joiner Center and the Creative Writing Program, all students, faculty and friends were invited to attend the open-mic reading. Flyers around campus said to bring “an appropriate, published poem or paragraph.”

The room filled quickly as the time came close to 1pm, each person greeting others with a smile as they entered. The audience was mainly filled with faculty and friends of the poets, with a few students present. Kevin Bowan, who hosted the event, said a few quick words to start it off, “It is important for all of us to use poetry as a voice.” He also discussed a petition, signed by over 10,000 writers, being sent to the White House in an effort to stop the war on Iraq. He said, “We must raise our voices until we are heard.”

Bowan gave no introductions. He simply looked into the audience at the members when it was their turn to read. Lloyd Schwartz read two poems by Elizabeth Bishop. Loud and stern, he used his hands for emphasis. He reflected on the fact that it was Ash Wednesday, saying, “Times like this need prayer.”

Next to read was Fred. He read Walt Whitman’s “To A Certain Civilian” and a selection from the Book of Job. Both pieces were moving and read in an even tone. At the end he said, “The past is so quickly forgotten, and its lessons forgotten.”

Fran Murphy read three anonymous poems written by nurses who served in Vietnam. All three were moving and touching. A poem named “Civilians” was about a boy, sick in the hospital, who had woken up crying in the night. The nurse went and got the boy’s older brother to help him relax. The younger boy was quiet for a few minutes, enjoying his brother’s company, before becoming hysterical and crying violently. When asked what happened, the nurse said that the older brother had just told him that their parents were killed. It was a heart-wrenching poem and was read beautifully. Murphy explained that the whole book, Another Kind Of War Story, remains anonymous, in memory of the lives lost.

One student, Maria Falls, read an original, “Liberty.” Falls expressed great sadness, and her poem was filled with gruesome details of mutilated bodies and death. It was well read and well written. The descriptions she gave of what happens to a solider were frightening and very real.

The highlight of the event was Professor Duncan Nelson. He read an original poem named, “Rhythm In Search of Meaning.” He was fantastic, energetic, and humorous. It was an attack on political figures, done in contemporary manner. He used everything from Nike to Rambo to illustrate his poem. One line read, “We need Rambo to body slam bad guys like Saddam Hussein.” After the event Nelson said, “We are so grateful to Kevin for having the initiative to host [Poets Against the War], so voices on all sides of life can be heard.”