Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do


Can poets change the world

                                          “When anger rises, think of the consequences”

                                                                                                                           - Confucious

Poets and all other people should contribute towards human reasoning. We need to find the right words, so as to touch off reflections by bringing about such soberness that people and decision makers come closer to the truth. Also lyrical protest does not help. Aside from not bringing out those who have been silence, moral condemnation should not be mistaken with politics. It is easy to write from somewhere safe even when one feels something about all the suffering. Yet poetic expressions differ when poets find themselves on the ground, not necessarily in the midst of things but like Homer when visiting former battle grounds to draw some conclusions out of hindsight. Achilles went to war over Troy so as to have his name inscribed in history forever.

Clearly those not in immediate danger have the responsibility and the obligation to think about solutions to war. It is best done by thinking through various peace options and see to it that everyone finds a way out of the quagmire of violence or a 'vicious cycle' which feeds on revenge and counter revenge.

The question whether poets can change the world is all the more acute, for where to latch onto if it seems war prevails everywhere? Even a piece of wood to cling onto while drifting in a big ocean of turmoil might safe some lives. That is something in a life seemingly but an endless series of defeats and which conveys in the best of times only for a brief moment a little victory to bring relief. It is something which Waqas Kwaja conveys.

Little things count. Waqas Khwaja describes in his poem how people stand in line to fetch water in whatever container they may have. All of them depend upon the generator still functioning. Usually it happens that water may flow for but two hours a day. These hours count in the minds of those waiting as small victories compared to leading a daily life in misery and under the oppression of war.

If poetry succeeds to make visible a proportionality in what counts in the lives of ordinary people, then these little victories should not be dismissed so easily. At the same time, such a non romantic notion of poetry is the opposite of heroic deeds described by Hölderlin in his poem 'fatherland'. It makes a difference if people do not perish at war but just experience an ordinary death. In the latter case human gestures count even if they may achieve only little. It is the holding of the hand of the dying person. Such gestures make a difference when the thirsty one is the first to receive some drinking water before anyone else. It states that humanness has not been forgotten completely.

Still, there is the crucial question what can human gestures alter in a situation of war? The question can be reinforced by asking but what is a real measure of success in a life full of failures? This question many more ask nowadays especially when they see so many innocent people being killed almost every day, and this left and right, by bombs or vicious attacks, and mainly the defenceless, fore mostly women and children are the first to suffer.

Naturally, to prevent inhuman acts and crimes against humanity from happening, it does depend how political poets want to become for success does depend upon reaching that political level. Michel Foucault points out in his analysis of representation of power when a painter or a poet notices already a shift in power. Thus to become political, means first of all to notice these changes. That requires in turn to be observant of small details. It matters if a general pessimistic view does not prevail as if no one else is interested in finding a solution and the only outcome shall be yet again another war. Rather human optimism makes possible to contradict such a pessimistic viewpoint conveyed by a negative generalization.

For instance, it is generally said about Germany and Germans that there was no resistance against Hitler and the Holocaust. Despite that Ernst Bloch, the philosopher, found it significant when Hitler ordered degenerated art to be exhibited in Munich, that the people who came to the exhibition were 'ashamed' when they saw what great art works were dismissed as if not art. Alone that element of shame often conveyed by people not looking into each other's eyes but down to the ground made Bloch think underneath the mask of obedience to power, there is some resistance after all.

Consequently Ingrid Zwerenz and Gerhard Zwerenz, both former students of Ernst Bloch, would point out that resistance begins already when even just a few people would hum an anti-war song at a pro Hitler rally. For every voice of dissent counts. Likewise Oleg Koefoed in Copenhagen made the observation when people did not know what to do about the Israeli incursion into Gaza, they took to the street not only out of protest, but that they could continue seeing into each other's eyes since they stood up for peace and not war.

In other words, if poets want to affect change, they must avoid such negative generalizations which tend to ignore important details especially if they entail even the slightest contradiction as to how reality is being perceived at overall level, there were attitudes are displayed like flags and symbols but which do little justice as to what is happening on the ground. It is like the couple who would proclaim they are pro environment and therefore abhor to use an air conditioner even when the hot weather makes life in Athens nearly unbearable. Interestingly enough, the moment oneself admits to be using an air conditioner, suddenly they change position and admit that they too have been using one for the first time this summer. Leaving an impression at a prevailing level suggesting it is good to condone air conditioners for what they do to the environment, is one thing, quite another attitude when through a confession they reveal that quite another practice prevails in reality. Therefore, conclusions should be drawn with care for human beings are by far not perfect.

Here then it is befitting to cite a poem by Katerina Anghelaki Rooke about herself not a perfect human being by far:

The blessing of deficiency

I am grateful to what I lack.

What I lack protects me

from what I'll lose;

all my abilities

that dried up in the abandoned field of life

protect me from movements into the void

useless, pointless.

What I lack teaches me;

what I have left

desorients me

because it projects images from the past

as if they were promises for the future.

I can't, I don't dare

even a passing by angel

to imagine because I descend

on another planet, with no angels.

Love, from pure desire

became a good friend;

together we taste the sadness of Time.

Please deprive me – I beg the Unknown -

deprive me even more

so that I can surive.

                • Katerina Anghelaki Rooke

From the poetry collection “Te Anorexia of existence”, Athens 2011


By 2014, Katerina Anghelaki Rooke would say that in terrible times it is impossible to write a good poem, hence poets should give up the illusion of being more perfect than others. It all comes down to being humble and especially open minded about that great unknown for which we have often a certain feeling, but no real explanation and only with the help of the imagination can we gauge what is out there, in the unknown darkness within ourselves.

Such an observation of a detail about light and darkness a poem can bring out even when lying in the street until someone comes along, picks it up and after having read the poem, gathers suddenly some strength not to continue as before merely blindly, in conformity as to what power wishes people to do. A change occurs when people find the courage to speak out and say things what everyone is afraid of. A poem can then be like the candle light flickering in the wind. Easily it can be blown out by the wind but as long as this is not the case, it does spend both warmth and light so as to survive as long as kept alive. Indeed a difference exists between survival and living. If poetry manages to go in between the cracks of generalization, and does counter the negative by taking sides with the human being, surely then some optimism will exist.

Dostoevsky described when he was taken prisoner and they were all marched in colonies in the direction of Siberia, people came out of the houses of the villages they passed through and trust some bread into their hands. More important was that inside the bread they hid as well some money. That too is resistance. It is a sign that people care even if scared to show openly any solidarity with the prisoners out of fear to be punished severely by the authorities for making such human gestures as if a show of human solidarity is forbidden.

In his essay “The marketplace of voices” 1, Waqas Khwaja describes a homeless man who sits forlorn on a park bench and draws endlessly circles on the piece of paper he holds with unsteady hands. He is one of the many who have lost their home. That reminds of something.

Recently World Poetry Movement issued a declaration with reference to the plight of nomads, but that makes no longer sense in a world in which so many people have been made refugees. In the past there are the Armenians who had to flee but since March 2011 3 million have fled Syria while over 190 000 have been killed. When attending school in Ottawa, Canada, the historical map of Europe could be read on hand of those who arrived as landed immigrant at a certain time: the Hungarians after 1956, the Czechs after the Prague Spring was squashed in 1968 etc.. People were made homeless throughout history for deliberate reasons. When collective farming ended in Europe, the first waves of immigrants to the United States started.

If that is the case, the future prospect of peace depends on what these people take with them as belongings. Mostly these are not tangible things but small stories. When the BBC interviewed a young boy in Northern Iraq after having escaped in late August 2014 the fighters of the Islamic State, he cried when narrating his story. For he had to flee with his family the beautiful house his grandfather had build in the village. Compared to the life he once knew while growing up in that house, his present state of being in a refugee camp is more than just being homeless. He is forlorn, lost, disorientated for he knows no longer what to look out for in future.

When the Armenians were forced to flee the genocide of the Turks, they split up their books and send them in two different directions with a promise to be back home when it would be possible to reunite these two halves. If home is what other people remember of you, then surely this boy can take an example not only the Armenians, but as well from Thomas and Heinrich Mann who wanted to write together a story about the house they grew up in. The wanted to write this when in Exile in America during Second World War. Their wish was to describe the house in such a way that their father would recognize it immediately as the house they had grown up in.

About the importance of memories, Marx made the astute observation of what was so significant when in Ancient Greece Athenians were about to be attacked by the Persians and the Oracle in Delphi advised them to hide behind wooden boards. By interpreting wooden boards as planks of a ship, the Athenian went on board of their ships and survived. The Persians came and destroyed the city but as Marx put it not the memories people had of their city. Once the Persians were gone, they returned and could rebuild the city. Likewise peace can be imagined peace as something non-destroyable, provided this is kept alive in the memories of people. To this poets can contribute by keeping memories alive - like that tiny flame of a candle.

But Ray Cassar is far more pessimistic. He sees war after war being perpetuated by in inability to learn from the past, and so mistakes are merely repeated. Such a position sparked off a debate amongst the contributing poets as to whether poets can really change the world, and if poems do make a difference.

Here then Yiorgos Chouliaras referred to an interview given by Bill Wolak, a good friend of Dileep Jhaveri. Bill Wolak says something similar as Amir Or. To paraphrase his saying: “The poet believes poems have the power to change the world and therefore he can be part of a peace delegation. The main theme should be that if you haven't experienced love, you're missing the whole point in life. This is the thought behind any peace delegation — this is what needs to be concentrated on. There needs to be shown how, through love, compassion and tolerance, it is possible to change the environment of violence we see all around us. One ideology (of hatred) is replaced by love, how can anyone argue against that?" 2

It was then that Seamas Cain drew attention to an interesting article by Jennifer Wilhelm:

Please read "Can Poetry Make A Difference?" by Jennifer Williams in Edinburgh.
You will find her statement at this web-page ...
I think Jennifer's remarks fit in rather well with the discussions we have been having in recent days.  (Quite often in her work, Jennifer brings a breeze of fresh air to everyone around her.)
Peaceful regards,


Indeed, Jennifer William does touch upon one of the key questions the poets have been discussing, namely can poetry really change things when everything looks so bleak? She captures very well this mood of near despair when seeing what horrible news comes across on the screen, and this on a daily basis. Appropriately Germain Droogenbroodt quotes here a poem by Ingeborg Bachman who speaks about the outrageous war becoming a daily habit. To this can be said nothing is worse than taken the abnormal to be the normal. Some resistance has to be found against that. One reassurance may be given insofar as people shall never get used to war. It will never be perceived as being something normal. Still, they don't trust either any condition of peace. They fear and know too well that soon the sun shall go away again and instead dark clouds will gather in the sky to make everything look grim.

It is, however, unfortunate that Jennifer Williams ends her reflections with Erza Pound. She tries to show her disagreement with him, politically speaking, while still upholding her admiration for him as a poet. Is that really possible? The same question applies, for instance, to Heidegger. Many distinguish his philosophy from what he did politically but can such a distinction be upheld?

Pound did believe in Mussolini, and by implication in the art of deception. For instance, the Fascist knew how to use light to inflame people for certain collective moods. Consequently the use of such a metaphor to bring about change through a poem being light does become questionable, to say the least. The Nazis started their cult festivals in the Tingstätten (open air theatres) at sunset and to which everyone come with already lit torches. Together they went into more than dusk for the war which awaited them was a still greater darkness which descended upon them due to a fanaticism which made them blind as to where things were heading towards.

Interesting enough Gabriel Rosenstock did send around his poem about Mussolini to show how everything can be looked like when a child puts his head upside down to see the world. Gabriel Rosenstock did it by just turning a photograph on its head. Still, the ending of the poem is too utopian and therefore caused a lot controversy as reflected in an article with the telling title, 'poems which matter'. It does become a challenge to come to terms with such a poem. But that too can evoke a change especially when people start to look at subject matters considered until then to be 'untouchable', and therefore topics which exists but no one really daring to spoken about them openly.


Chonac grianghraf inniu

De Mhussolini agus a mháistreás

Crochta bun os cionn

Is níor fhéadas faic a rá

Ach ‘Íosa Críost’ os ard.

Bhí gramaisc bailithe timpeall orthu

Mar a bheadh lucht margaidh ann…

Nó mangairí mairteola.

Iompaím an grianghraf

Agus chím go bhfuilid

Ar snámh san aer

A lámha chun na spéartha acu

Ag éalú leo ón daoscarshlua

Ar a slí i dtreo na saoirse —

I gcríochaibh gan díbheirg, díoltas, dásacht ná fuath.



Today I saw a photograph

of Mussolini and his mistress

hung upside down

and all I could say

was ‘Jesus Christ’ aloud.

A mob had gathered around them

like shoppers at a market

or meat merchants.


I turn the photo the other way

and I see that they are

afloat mid-air

their hands reaching to the heavens

fleeing from the rabble

on their way to freedom -

to regions where vengeance, revenge, violence and hatred are unknown.


It may well be that heaven is a place where peace can be found, where redemption really works and therefore allows mankind to achieve the unachievable, namely a forgivenesses. It would be giving the human being the benefit of doubt.

Since Jennifer William mentions in her article as well the execution of American photograph journalist Foley by the ISIS fighters, then something more needs to be said. For instance, the ISIS organisation did send an email letter to his parents. It was a letter full of hatred. The fact that they did inform the parents before they executed him in cold blood shows how global connections interconnect with a limited capacity by the parents to say 'no' to such a senseless killing of their son. It is even a representative killing since the photo journalist usually safeguarded by his status was made responsible for all the crimes of America. Jennifer William is right to be alarmed by all the kinds of violences which have been flaring up left and right. This fake acquisition of power by assuming one can stand over life and order death, best demonstrated by killing a prisoner or a non believer, that has to be questioned. There are all kinds of disproportionate reactions in the case of honour killings. Still, the readiness to violence is prompted not only by hatred, but by feeling so helpless that the desire to lash out can prevail over any human reason. With many onlookers not doing anything when a woman is stoned to death, silence marries death. After that it is no longer possible to gauge really what has been inscribed in the psyche of the individuals and of the entire community. Always it appears as if a belief system has gone badly wrong when it leads to strict acts of punishment by death. It is merely made to appear to be an enactment of justice in the name of some higher belief.

The same applies when discussing with a Palestinian why he defends the use of the death penalty by Hamas in the case of informers working with the Israelis. The argument is that they inform which houses to bomb since Hamas military leaders are there at the moment, but they are equally guilty of killing innocent women and children who die as well when a strike is attempted against a military leader. Just before the unlimited cease fire went into effect on 27 August 2014, 18 of them were executed, two of them being women in Gaza. To keep some pseudo legality in place, it was said they were tried and found guilty by the revolutionary court. The latter term says it all.

How then to say 'no' to this kind of violence when even a Palestinian who claims to value staying human and not to respond in a non human way to whatever the Israelis may do, justifies these executions. It amounts to a violation of human rights. Unfortunately he does not seem to understand that any death penalty whether now executed in the United States or in Pakistan amounts to a mere act of revenge.

Something else occurred in the history once the French Revolution set free a new universal spirit. Of interest is that Constance de Volney was asked by the French National Assembly after the Revolution to help draft such a new constitution which can help to prevent in future war. To find some inspiration, Constance went to ancient ruins and asked them what happened to these once proud and strong empires, or why did they crumble in time and in history? The answer was that all of them were subjugated under religion. It meant automatically the imposition of hierarchy, so that this is 'my table at which you may sit down only if given the permission.' All these religions have one big fallacy. They claim to be more true than any other by pointing to one crucial evidence, namely that people were prepared to sacrifice their lives and to die for this religion. For what greater sacrifice or gift man can make than to give away his life for a cause, for that religion? The fallacy in the minds of those who continue to draw that wrong conclusion is the equivalent of the belief that dying for a higher cause or for a fatherland was by far more noble than any ordinary death. Hölderlin expresses such sentiment in his poem “Fatherland”, and which Hitler used to entice young men to enter a fight till the end. They do not realize death signifies in reality failure, not success. Of course, if people are prepared to give up their lives and are willing to fight, then this motivation lends nobility to the cause even though in reality it is still brutal murder with all the consequences it has on the psyche of everyone, that is both victim and perpetrator. Poets should keep that in mind.

As this leads back to the overall question, can poetry bring about change, surely the answer has to 'yes', provided the poets do not stick to habitual ways of expressing themselves while seeing things only in overt terms. The real issue of peace lies much deeper. To attain such human substance poets must also admit their own failures to address many outstanding issues of these times. But before things can turn truly violent, they need to be highly attentive as to what is going on. It goes without saying that it requires a careful listening to expresses differences in nuances of understanding. It can facilitate a better communication and may influence the terms politicians end up agreeing to after sheer endless negotiations.

If Israel alone is taken as an example of a country in need of a drastic change if peace is to prevail in the Middle East, it follows that bishop Tutu demands of the Israelis to rethink their options. He is for a boycott of all Israelis. When some wished to attend a conference he organized in South Africa, he told them to leave and to go back to Israel where they should tell their fellow citizens that the world shall no longer shall put up with the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Tutu is for a non violent transition. He cites South Africa as an example. He says that many factors contributed to this transition, including economic sanctions. Once money was withdrawn by companies who had done until then business in South Africa, those who supported Apartheid till then began to realize the benefits of such a regime no longer outweighed the costs. Right now something similar is happening with Israel. The Dutch Pension Fund is no longer keeping its money in Israel. Tutu added to the need to put full pressure on Israel by the international world another factor has to exist. For they had the luck that inside of South Africa there were capable men and women who did talk with each other, in order to make possible a non violent transition to democracy. One of these men was Nelson Mandela.

In short, it would be a mistake to focus only on poetry as if this can change things, but certainly poetry can help by being an integral part of a peaceful transition by way of showing justice must curtail the power used to govern, and in the case of Israel to control the Palestinian people. Only here Amir Or would argue the analogy between Israel and South Africa during apartheid does not hold. Also in his opinion the sanctions as advocated by Tutu is not a path towards peace but one leading to still further wars. Still one thing can be said. As long as opinions can be expressed freely and without endangering the lives of those who practice this openness, then something can be changed in the Middle East. Yet not all Palestinian poets agree. They have joined the campaign to boycott any action or conference which includes poets from Israel.

By no means things are easy inside of Israel as revealed by an interview with the former leader of the left wing party Haim Oron. He describes which political positions lead up to negotiations but to understand them they have be appraised in a way which makes sense of Israel's political reality. He explains why the many attempts to reach a peace agreement in the Middle East have failed. At the same time, he is infuriated that the loyalty of the Left is constantly questioned even though his family is a fighting one with many members involved in the Israeli Defence Force. Even one grandson was wounded in the most recent war against Hamas in Gaza while another daughter was in the helicopter on a rescue mission and not knowing it was her own brother amongst the wounded. Haim Oron finds himself in such a political absurdity in having to face such false criticism from the side of the Extreme Right which accuses him of not being sufficiently loyal to the state of Israel. At the same time the engagement of the Left in war efforts even though being against militarism makes also plain where the tragedy of the Left in Israel begins and never ends. The interview gives an idea of the many efforts which are undertaken to stay in contact with the other side. However, the interview reveals clearly where the Left has failed. It has not overcome a cultural barrier inside of Israel and therefore is unable to enlarge its core base of voters. For the Left has not succeeded in shedding an image of being elitist. At the same time, they become unbelievable in the eyes of potential Left Wing voters if they affirm military operations as the most recent incursion into Gaza. Still poets like Amir Or can give people of Israel a sensible option by giving through poetry a space to rethink their options. Empathy for the Palestinian people can be gained through translation workshops in which each side learns the language of the other. 3

More difficult is the political analysis for any outsider to the Middle East. Still, just a small word can make a difference and further a better understanding between the two sides. It would require that poets join in efforts which aim to prepare the ground for a lasting peace in the region. Naturally there have to be avoided a wrong way of taking sides without really comprehending the situation. It would create only such mishaps which fuel still further misunderstandings. Indeed, the Middle East is a mine field of misunderstanding as Germain Droogenbroodt found out when he cited Darwish and was immediately accused by an Israeli poet of being an anti Semite.

Mine fields is the subject of a poem written by Philip Meersman. The poem is about a dialogue between father and son before the latter goes off to sweep the field again in search of mines. He does so solely with the help of a cardboard key. That poem was prompted by the first war in Iraq around 1980. The poem confronts the reader with the precarious and absurd condition of life in the region but does so by bringing ever closer such a reality even so many in the West do not wish to see or hear about unless someone like the late Diane takes on as a cause the anti mine campaign.

The discussion amongst the poets continued when Gabriel Rosenstock brought into the group the poetess Anna Lombardo who met him in Dublin where she is doing at the moment her PhD in gender studies, but who lives in Venice and organizes there poetry festivals. She entered the discussion with some further going reflections about what the article of Jennifer Williams contains and which does address the overall question of poets being able or not to change the world?

Venice 30.8.2014

Dear All

I have read with great interest Jennifer Williams’ article. What she says is understandable and makes sense. I would like to add few other humble considerations about the question “Can poetry make a difference?” Of course it can but on conditions. I think that the violence has to be questioned with all means that we, as human being, have at our disposal, in particular when it wears the “mask of love” like the many, many humanitarian wars that went (and are going on) around the world since after the WWII. And I believe that poetry has got a great gift to make a synthesis which brings the human feelings, (the good and the bad ones) the nearest possible to the truth. Poetry has the rare chance (as well as music) to communicate what is “unspeakable”, that impossibility to say the “real”, because this “unspeakable real” has no words to be said, because it inhabits itself the “real.” Poetic writing gives the chance to translate that “real”, called in this world nowadays “trauma,” out of what has become silence: the silence of abused women all over the world, the silence of abused children, the silence of those abused “People of The Abyss.” What are the conditions? We should ask ourselves: is it enough from our poetical side, just to write poems and of course try to spread them all over? But who is listening to the poets, nowadays? Other Poets? Who understands poets anyhow, when all the critical instruments have been systematically corrupted, destroyed, made meaningless by the economic powers that rule the world? When words don’t resonate anymore? What can poetry do then? Perhaps poetry very little, but the woman and the man behind that poetry can do something. I guess then that who has to be questioned is that “crazy” human being who still believes in the power of words (written or read), still believes that poetry can speak to the heart of the people better than bombs. What he/she is doing in his/her “real” life is what matters. I don’t know if Pound just came into all this by chance, but he is a good example. To choose a side is a problem, our problem, our responsibility and in that respect we have to pay for those “words” we “write” or read or sing or paint. What I am trying to say, is that it is not possible to talk of peace and then support “fascism”, (as in Pound’s case), or talk of peace and then remain in our shell. Our actions cannot shine under the beauty of the words only, they cannot be “cleaned” if our actions don’t reflect the same intentions. It is for me difficult to forget the consequences that Pound’s (and Eliot’s) literary canon had for many female poets: most of them were for years marginalized, most of their voices were silenced, and most of them still are.

Yes, there is something good in everyone, that’s why I/we keep on writing poems, but this good has to come out and, become an ocean like a rivulet. Only then can “poetry” make a difference.

Poetry can talk and teach the human being to become again human and not to forget that we all are just passengers in this world, with the same rights to live in peace and be happy.

Gabriel’s poem about “Mussolini going to Heaven” offers a space for reflections (it worked in this sense for me) and perhaps by taking a side, remember that actions always have consequences. War kills mostly the poorest: this is the terrible consequence, the truth which is constantly hidden under a false pity in all media. After every disaster the curtain lowers. Poets and poetesses can together raise the curtain.

I thank all of you for that and the chance to let poetry walk into a world of real peace.

Poetry blesses all of us.


Anna Lombardo


There are several things said in this short reflection which is of crucial importance. Above all to conceive poetry as bringing people out of silence, only achievable by becoming itself a cultural synthesis, is something to be noted. She also does not believe in simple passivity, for behind the poem is a poet who interacts with the world. There is no hiding behind either the poem or in being a poet. That is why she finds the discussion stirred up by Gabriel Rosenstock with his poem about Mussolini so important. However, it requires efforts to reveal the truth which “is constantly hidden under a false pity in all media.” To change something poetry has to show the difference to false pity being true compassion for the human being, revealed best by bringing out the human pain and agony in all of this. As Katerina Anghelaki Rooke would say, underneath every good poem there is pain. Above all, Anna Lombardo says to distinguish from someone like Pound every poet has to take responsibility for the words and sides he chooses to be on. She also questions the use of humanitarian reasons to justify the going to war. That is a mask of false love which poets should learn how to take off from those willing to wear it like Joschka Fischer who justified out of humanitarian reasons the bombardment of Kosovo, and although this politician had emerged out of the peace movement which led to the creation of the Green Party in Germany.

There is, however, another approach to change. Dominique alas AxoDomo advocates that poets take up an active role by becoming persuaders. Moreover he bestows peace making abilities much more to the elderly people since they are willing to compromise more easily for several reasons. It shows to what other position observations of life can lead to. AxoDomo has devoted poetic word performances to draw attention to the violences incurred in Syria. He dedicated these performances to the many innocent people who have lost their lives in a battle for the high ground of authoritarian rule by one kind of dictatorship or another. No war makes sense, even less in Syria which used to strive on multi cultural compositions of a tolerant society. To bring home this absurdity of war to people in France and in Europe, he uses at times the conjecture of powerful images. They substantiate words in a way which refute wrong notions of war. Certainly poetry is a refutation of the absurd. To do that he feels some anthropological wisdoms need to be picked up along the poetic way of seeing and expressing things.

August 21.8.2014

Cher Hatto, 

Merci beaucoup pour ta lecture attentive de tous les textes qui te sont envoyés et pour les stimulants rebonds que tu opères quasiment à chaque fois sur tel ou tel point.

Voici quelques réponses à tes remarques sur notre envoi:

- remark by HF. « the aged one who is inclined to make compromises »

Oui, les plus âgés sont plus enclins au compromis, pas seulement parce que la sagesse leur serait soudain tombée dessus mais aussi parce que leurs forces déclinent. La vertu ne suffit pas toujours à la création de l'équilibre. 

Yes, older people are more inclined to compromise, not only because a sudden wisdom but also because their strength declines. Virtue is not always enough to create balance.

- " art of persuasion, this may be one way of seeing how poetry works and can change the world. However, my question is whether it would be better not to persuade but that poetry should be self convincing "

De fait, la poésie ne marche pas du même pas que la rhétorique. Aujourd'hui plus que jamais (ou comme toujours) l'éloquence, l'argumentation, la raison ne font pas forcément le bon poème. Et la poésie ne va pas chercher la vérité par les mêmes chemins que la philosophie. Cherchant dans le profond de l'homme, elle serait plus voisine de l'anthropologie, au mieux.

Poetry does not work the same pace as rhetoric. Today more than ever (or as ever) eloquence, argument, reason does not necessarily make a good poem. Poetry is not seeking the truth by the same paths as philosophy. Searching the depths of man, it would be nearer to anthropology, at best.

- HF.: "note of optimism that something can be done"

Oui, c’est pour ça qu’on se lève le matin. Qu’on écrit, qu’on organise des festivals, qu’on fait des enfants ou qu’on en adopte, etc.

Regarde Hatto comme un pays comme la Columbie s’est relevé en 10 ans.

L’anthropologue Claude LEVI-STRAUSS dans « Tristes tropiques » dit bien que « Si les hommes ne se sont jamais attaqué qu'à une besogne, qui est de faire une société vivable, les forces qui ont animé nos lointains ancêtres sont aussi présentes en nous. Rien n'est joué ; nous pouvons tout reprendre. Ce qui fut fait et manqué peut-être refait."

Au début de l’année, on a osé sur notre blog un article intitulé 2014 ou la défaite du mal http://armesecretepoesie-axodom.blogspot.fr/2013/12/2014-ou-la-defaite-du-mal.html. On a été critiqués et moqués mais aujourd’hui nous ne changerions pas un mot de ce texte.

Il y a 40 ans, quand l’écologie était le rêve de doux rêveurs qui aurait dit que tant de métiers aujourd’hui seraient liés à cette préoccupation?

Pour l'instant, les gens "raisonnables" se moquent gentiment du mouvement politique de la décroissance mais il faudra bien y arriver bientôt.

Yes, that's why we get up in the morning. We write, we organize festivals, we do or adopt children, etc.

Look how a country like Columbia has recovered in 10 years.

The anthropologist Claude LEVI-STRAUSS in "Tristes Tropiques" says that "If men were never attacked at a task, which is to make a liveable society, forces that animated our ancestors are also present in us. Nothing is settled; we can take it. This was done and if failed, it may be tried again. "

Earlier this year, we ventured on our blog an article entitled "2014 or the defeat of evil" (http://armesecretepoesie-axodom.blogspot.fr/2013/12/2014-or-defeat-the-evil.html). It has been widely criticized and mocked but today we would not change a word of the text.

40 years ago, ecology was the dream of dreamers. Who would have guessed that so many businesses would be related to this concern today?

For now, the "reasonable" people gently laugh at the political movement of degrowth but it will get there one day soon.

HF: "whether poetry follows the same logic as managerial thinking, that I doubt very much"

Et nous aussi. C'était juste une blague de conclusion pour provoquer le réel...

So do we, that was just a conclusive joke to provoke the "real world"…


p/o AxoDom


While solutions being proposed by the poets may be far from being realistic, they do keep something alive: the spirit of man in quest of peace. The aim is to find peace not under any, but human conditions. Here Gabriel Rosenstock thinks, this is conceivable when there exist no longer national symbols or any borders:

Gabriel Rosenstock


Deireadh le teorainneacha

Deireadh le bratacha

Deireadh le sreang dheilgneach

Deireadh le fallaí arda

Deireadh le náisiúin

Cuir deireadh le cling shuarach na n-airgeadraí

Deireadh le cogaí

Lig don phláinéad análú gan bhac

Gan teorainneacha

Gan bhratacha

Gan sreang dheilgneach

Gan fallaí arda

Gan náisiúin

Gan cling shuarach na n-airgeadraí

Gan chogaí

Deireadh go deo le teorainneacha


An end to borders

An end to flags

An end to barbed wire

An end to towering walls

An end to nations

End the base tinkle of currencies

End wars

Let the planet breathe freely

Without borders

Without flags

Without barbed wire

Without towering walls

Without nations

Without the base tinkle of currencies

Without wars

An end forever to borders


On the other hand, Peter Paul Zammit has another kind of utopian philosophy in mind. He states: “Zen teaches that the universe is dependent on the beat of a butterfly's wings. Every small action can have huge consequences, thus in all acts there are consequences. Even peace can be catastrophic, if it is complacent to change. Peace needs to be internal that it be external and in its external face it must look inwards to ensure its continued existence and at the same move foreward through enlightened conviction and not enforced coercion as does violence, which being external forces the internal to bend. From the pendulum of situations we must come to the balance of nadir to be at peace and promote peace.“

It links up with what Rati Saxena has been saying all along: why search for peace, when peace is within us? Yet there is the position of Anna Lombardo who would say behind every poem there is a poet who is responsible for his or her action. Insofar as no one is just passive, but interacts with the world, everyone is responsible for the action he or she undertakes. Consequently it matters what happens not only internally, but externally as well, and more so because peace has to be verifiable for the others. One of the most difficult things is to achieve that simultaneous moment when all agree this is the most humane condition for peace to take hold whether in the Middle East or in Eastern Ukraine.

In saying that not to be forgotten is what K. Satchidanandan mentioned right at the outset of this discussion amongst poets in search of peace:

The battle for peace has to be multi-dimensional as it is a fight against all kinds of forces. It is a fight to restore humaneness to the humankind. Arts, including poetry which is the highest of verbal arts, have a definite role to play here as it creates higher states of mind and triggers lofty notions of life and beauty even while dealing with the ugly and the humdrum."

Hatto Fischer

31.August 2014


1 http://www.poieinkaiprattein.org/international/india/the-marketplace-of-voices-by-waqas-khwaja/

2 Why Bill Wolak thinks poetry can change the world“ by Apuurva Sridharan,TNN | Aug 14, 2014, 12.00 AM IST http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/Why-Bill-Wolak-thinks-poetry-can-change-the-world/articleshow/40193355.cms

3 „Haim Oron, former leader of the left-wing Meretz party, fears that continued control of the territories will spell the end of Zionism, but isn't yet ready to give up hope.“ By Gidi Weitz | Aug. 22, 2014 | 9:34 AM http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.611852





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