Category: Cultura

DESAFIANDO EL CAOS: REFLEXIONES DESDE EL DERRUMBE ELECTORAL y otros artículos de Lucía Scorzelli

DESAFIANDO EL CAOS: REFLEXIONES DESDE EL DERRUMBE ELECTORAL

La vejez de Guillermo Tell, óleo sobre lienzo de Salvador Dali

Después de la dura jornada electoral, me resistí a escribir, como si las palabras se escondieran tras los golpes del domingo. Sin embargo, una frase en redes capturó mi atención: “La tristeza colectiva es otra forma de felicidad antes de reaparecer”. Me quedó resonando porque encapsula exactamente lo que sentí el domingo al ver las expresiones de mis amigos frente a los resultados, esa mezcla de desconcierto, tristeza pero la contención de sabernos unidos. A partir de eso me surgieron varias reflexiones que me parecen importantes.

 

¿RECONFIGURACIÓN DEL PODER EN ARGENTINA?

Por un lado, la victoria de Milei en el balotaje podría ser el inicio de una reconfiguración del poder en Argentina. Sin embargo, no necesariamente tiene que ser trágico para el progresismo, como la primera impresión nos sugiere. Este es un momento crucial para hacernos una autocrítica.

Si algo nos tiene que enseñar esta derrota electoral es que el progresismo, cuando se modera, no funciona. Si cuando gobierna solo se ufana de haber evitado algo peor, no genera esperanzas. Esta segunda ola progresista que se dio en América Latina, en Argentina con Alberto, en México con Obrador, en Bolivia con Luis Arce, no estuvo acompañada de movilización popular como la primera. Eso también puede leerse como un síntoma de la dificultad para hacer política desde las izquierdas en este proceso de hiperindividualismo.

Para la derecha es más fácil; lo que ellos proponen ya es la forma en que vivimos en el mercado laboral y que ya tenemos naturalizado. La idea de que estás solo en esta jungla donde pisas o te pisan, este miedo a cualquiera que hable de lo colectivo porque seguro quiere engañarnos, estas ideas ya se reproducen en nuestras vidas cotidianas. El progresismo tiene que discutir esa forma actual de vida, disputarla, explicar que los comportamientos colectivos nos hacen más libres a todos, que la cooperación nos puede ofrecer más libertad, libertad de tiempo, libertad de la competencia con nosotros mismos, pero debemos dar ejemplos cotidianos de esto. Lograr volver a calar discursivamente en la gente, entendiendo el momento actual, es también tarea de este progresismo.

Y cual es ese momento actual? El sistema en el que venimos navegando está en crisis desde hace rato, y estas avanzadas de las derechas extremas que vemos en el mundo (derechas más radicalizadas en América Latina; partidos neonazis en europa, etc) son solo un intento desesperado de salvar las papas del sistema en el que estamos metidos. ¿Por qué digo esto cuando el sistema hoy parece más vivo que nunca?

 

NEOLIBERALISMO SIN OPTIMISMO HISTÓRICO

Voy a tomar un análisis de Garcia Linera que me parece interesante para comprender esto. Él plantea que vivimos ciclos históricos y en cada una aparece una forma de dominación y de legitimación política, cuando uno caduca aparece otro, y así fue por largos periodos de tiempo. Hoy el ciclo neoliberal está en crisis, podemos notar que ya no se presenta con el optimismo histórico de antes. En la actualidad, no sentimos un tono social que se inclina más hacia el pesimismo sobre el futuro? Este sentimiento se manifiesta en nuestra vida cotidiana: al reflexionar sobre el mañana, ¿no nos asalta la imagen de un caos inminente y desastres? No es mero pesimismo individual; más bien, refleja el clima de nuestra época. Por eso mientras que nuestros padres visualizaban progreso y mejoras, nosotros encontramos difícil concebir un futuro similar.

A este contexto podemos sumar la avanzada individualista que estamos viviendo, donde los anhelos de cambios sociales significativos y compromisos políticos ceden paso al lema de “cada uno para sí mismo”. En un entorno donde todo se individualiza, el espacio público se ve invadido por lo privado. Y asi es que aparece una de las grandes contradicciones de nuestra epoca, la desaparición del poder público en favor de la libertad individual genera una impotencia práctica de la libertad. El poder público ha perdido la capacidad tanto de oprimir como de posibilitar, ya que lo común es lo que impide que la gran propiedad avance sin restricciones. En un país conformado únicamente por dueños, el más fuerte es el que prevalece.

 

DISPUTA DEL HORIZONTE PREDICTIVO

Las sociedades se mueven gracias a creencias y perspectivas, y la política es la pelea por el horizonte predecible, hoy estamos en plena batalla por un nuevo futuro predecible.  Estamos en el medio, justo en ese momento, como bien señalaba Gramsci cuando  “El viejo mundo se muere y el nuevo está por llegar, en ese claroscuro surgen los monstruos”  y si no hablemos de nuestro nuevo presidente, ruido de mate…

Fijémonos ¿qué plantean estas nuevas derechas?. Precisamente la idea de que si el neoliberalismo está fallando es porque se hicieron mal las cosas, hay que volver a las bases, al libre mercado puro. Y son autoritarios, porque es un neoliberalismo que dice: estamos mal por culpa de alguien, del Estado, de los impuestos. Hay demasiada libertad y derechos para las mujeres, para los sindicalistas, hay demasiados inmigrantes que nos quitan el trabajo. ¿Les suena? La receta económica es la misma, pero el discurso es diferente y tiende a volverse popular si está precedido de un gobierno progresista al que poder echarle la culpa.

Esta derecha no será duradera porque las recetas que tienen son viejas y ya se han probado. No resuelven los problemas de la gente, sino que los agravan, porque son incompatibles con el mantenimiento de la familia, con la certeza de vida, con la sustentabilidad de las naciones como espacio de identidad y con la supervivencia de la vida en el planeta.

Esa es nuestra tarea hoy, porque el que entienda las demandas de la gente  y sepa leer el momento histórico será el que logre hegemonizar el nuevo tiempo histórico e imponer un nuevo horizonte.



¿Qué tiene para decir el feminismo a los nuevos síntomas de la época?

artículo de Lucía

Foto: Kala Moreno Parra y agencias

El límite a Milei puede ser el voto femenino. Una frase contundente para datos contundentes, en nuestro país como en distintos países el feminismo se presenta como un freno a las derechas. Según investigaciones de las universidades de Ámsterdam y Bergen[1], las mujeres votan menos por partidos de extrema derecha en países como Argentina, Polonia, Brasil y España. Otros datos indican que si en nuestro país el voto solo hubiese sido masculino como lo era antes, Milei  tendría más del 50% de los votos. Estos datos electorales esconden un gran significado político.

Mientras las fuerzas de derecha intentan resucitar viejas ideas, el feminismo  se presenta  como una posibilidad desde donde pensar un nuevo horizonte, no sólo como crítica de las injusticias del sistema sino como bandera que aglutine diferentes luchas y sea el frente desde el cual fundar una sociedad más igualitaria.

El feminismo ha demostrado su fuerza y ​​masividad en eventos a nivel global, desde los paros internacionales hasta las huelgas de mujeres y las marchas de “Ni una Menos”. Estos movimientos muestran su capacidad para asumir la responsabilidad histórica de un cambio profundo y estructural. Pero no es un hecho dado que el feminismo pueda ser un principio articulador de un proyecto emancipador, es una posibilidad sin garantías.

En los últimos tiempos nuestra sociedad ha experimentado cambios radicales. Vivimos en una era donde todo está en constante cambio, y las ideas utópicas de un futuro mejor cada vez tienen menos peso. De hecho si nos fijamos en algunos discursos políticos, especialmente los de derecha, buscan volver atrás en el tiempo promoviendo ideas como “todo tiempo pasado fue mejor”. Solo miremos los discursos de Donald Trump y “el regresos a la América que supimos ser” o el resurgimiento de ideologías nazis en Europa, o más cerca aún,  Villarruel y su cuestionamiento a la existencia de un Ministerio de las Mujeres y Género. ¿Por qué sucede esto? Porque con la caída de los grandes relatos utópicos cae también la idea de progreso, en una sociedad donde el individualismo extremo reemplaza la idea de una sociedad justa construida entre todos, la colaboración en la resolución de problemas comunes se traspasa al individuo. Entonces los problemas sociales ya no se tratan como cuestiones colectivas, sino que se han trasladado a la esfera individual, donde la responsabilidad recae en el individuo y la mirada está puesta en el propio rendimiento; y donde los medios de comunicación promueven la idea de que podemos ser lo que deseamos,si somos pobres es porque no hemos trabajado lo suficiente,  lo que a menudo desencadena una depresión generalizada, falta de autoestima, desilusión y falta de confianza en las autoridades.

En este contexto, ¿ Que tiene para decirnos el feminismo? El feminismo cobra relevancia al problematizar esta desintegración del espacio público debido a la privatización de la vida. Ha generado un contra-discurso y creado una esfera pública donde ha introducido nuevos conceptos, como por ejemplo la “economía del cuidado”. Además, ha demostrado que el trabajo de reproducción es el pilar del sistema capitalista. A través de protestas, huelgas y trabajos teóricos, el feminismo ha logrado situar estas cuestiones como problemas comunes en el espacio público.

Recuperar la conciencia colectiva, la conciencia de grupo, es fundamental en este contexto porque desde la concientización grupal es desde donde se pueden generar los cambios. Sin embargo, para que el feminismo se convierta en un principio articulador de un proyecto emancipador, es fundamental evitar caer en el particularismo e identitarismo. El verdadero potencial revolucionario del feminismo radica en la posibilidad de repensar  el concepto de sujeto, cuestionando las identidades esenciales y cerradas. Como señala Clara Serra[2], el peligro de caer en cierres particularistas está siempre presente y esa es la gran lucha. No se trata de encerrarse en una identidad rígida, como “las mujeres”, sino de impugnar los privilegios de cualquier sujeto identitario. La verdadera revolución es la posibilidad de pensar otro tipo de sujeto, que problematice las ideas esencialistas del sujeto moderno.  La política debe ser abierta a la diferencia, con la igualdad como principio político, entendida como “igualdad en la diferencia”, no una igualdad que homogenice dejando afuera al diferente sino una donde la verdadera diversidad pueda existir.

El feminismo es una voz clave en la sociedad actual. En lo más urgente el límite a Milei puede ser el voto femenino y yendo a algo más radical puede ser la puerta de entrada por donde plantear una sociedad distinta que recupere el espacio público como principio articulador de la sociedad

[1] Así lo indica un informe publicado por el diario El País, con la firma de Borja Andrino y Montse Hidalgo Pérez

[2] Clara Serra Sánchez es una filósofa, investigadora, escritora y ex política española especializada en feminismo.




 Morning sun by Edward Hopper


HABLEMOS DE POSVERDAD

artículo de Lucía Scorzelli


¿Por qué hoy las noticias no necesitan tener correlación con la verdad para ser creíbles?

Hablemos de posverdad. Esta categoría, hoy muy de moda, fue introducida por el periodismo político e intenta explicar la forma en que se relaciona el poder con la verdad. Nos referimos a discursos que establecen verdades que no pueden ser comprobadas fácticamente. Pero lo interesante, o mejor dicho, lo que nos interesa aquí es que este recurso no solo sirve para los intereses de los sectores dominantes, sino que parece haber un campo dispuesto a aceptarlas, una sociedad ávida de querer creer en algo, donde estos discursos vacíos consisten.

Hoy en día, es cada vez más habitual leer una noticia y no saber si lo que estamos leyendo es real o no. ¿Cómo llegamos a normalizar este fenómeno?Lo que vamos a sostener es que no es casual que surja en este sistema capitalista en su fase neoliberal. Un sistema que no solo es destructivo sino también constructivo. Desde Gramsci pasando por Foucault, el poder ya no puede ser pensado únicamente en su aspecto coercitivo, no solo oprime sino que fabrica consenso, produce una trama simbólica que funciona de manera invisible, naturalizando las ideas dominantes, creando sentido común y escondiendo siempre su acto de imposición. En este sentido el poder pasa a tener una fase productiva, produce subjetividad. Podemos entender al sistema neoliberal no sólo como un mal de los sistemas financieros, sino también como un nuevo orden racional que va construyendo subjetividad.

Vivimos en un sistema que nos impone crearnos a nosotros mismos constantemente. Solo preguntémonos por algunos de nuestros grandes padecimientos actuales, ¿no sentimos culpa de no dar la talla? ¿de no lograr ser exitosos por no esforzarnos lo suficiente? Fijémonos en el tipo de redes sociales que utilizamos: Instagram, Facebook, etc. Acaso, ¿no nos sentimos obligados a presentarnos a nosotros mismos como si nuestra vida fuera una marca ofrecida a un público? Todos debemos construir nuestra personalidad desplegada en imágenes , nuestro estilo de vida en formato stories, cada uno debe proveerse de sus propios medios para hacerse a sí mismo, nos empuja a ser empresarios de nosotros mismos, explotando al máximo así el sentimiento de culpabilidad.

Pero ¿cómo es posible la aceptación voluntaria de esta imposición? Para entender esta cuestión, debemos considerar la idea que impera en nuestro sentido común de que somos seres libres, autónomos, que vivimos en una constante ‘autorrealización’, ya que esta concepción nos lleva a asumir como ‘problema personal’ aquello que es más bien un hecho estructural (estructural en el sentido de que estamos articulados en base a nuestra condición de sujetos sociales, es decir no estamos solos en el mundo y no todo depende exclusivamente de nuestras propias decisiones). De hecho, ideas que hoy nos parecen obvias tales como por ejemplo: si nos enfermamos, es porque no hemos sido lo suficientemente constantes en nuestros cuidados de salud, o si no conseguimos trabajo es porque no tenemos las capacidades para pasar exitosamente entrevistas, no siempre estuvieron presentes ni son generalizables a toda la humanidad, sino que son propias de esta época y de las sociedades occidentales en particular. Los riesgos y las contradicciones de la vida siguen siendo producidas socialmente, el problema es que ahora la responsabilidad ha caído sobre los individuos, el éxito como el fracaso dependen de nuestro esfuerzo.

¿Qué implicancias genera esta concepción sobre los sujetos? En principio, desconoce nuestros vínculos a las herencias y a los legados simbólicos, dejándonos así disponibles para los requerimientos del mundo neoliberal, borrando la conexión a la verdad de nuestra constitución, como si el contexto social y nuestra historia particular no influyeran en nuestras elecciones. De esta manera nuestros padecimientos se convierten en trastornos, promoviendo la creación de un hombre nuevo, desarraigado de su historia personal y social. Esto se evidencia en el consumo cada vez mayor de todo tipo de libros de autoayuda y de fármacos para aliviar el dolor y la angustia de nuestra existencia, para calmar el sentimiento irremediable de ‘estar en falta’.

¿Pero qué tiene que ver todo esto con la posverdad? Hoy en día, el sujeto no solo está obligado a elegir por su propia cuenta su forma de ser, de vestirse y todo lo que tenga que ver con el orden de crear su personalidad, sino también a decidir por sí mismo lo que considera verdadero. Esto  transforma las bases mismas de los argumentos tomados como válidos en la sociedad. Antes, la “opinión pública” nos imponía creencias, “los discursos científicos” nos servían como fuente incuestionable de saber, hoy la base argumentativa del sujeto es “la creencia personal”. Sin ir más lejos, el dispositivo de las fake news funciona en este orden, y extrae su éxito de las diferentes ofertas que promociona en el nuevo orden simbólico del mercado, ofrece ser (ser nacionalista, racista, antiinmigrante, antivacuna, etc) promoviendo hasta el límite las ideas que tiene el sujeto sobre sí. Es por ello que las noticias no necesitan tener correlación con la verdad, solamente tienen que estar en consonancia con las creencias del sujeto a quién van dirigidas.

Este fenómeno de la posverdad se ha arraigado en un contexto neoliberal que promueve la individualidad y la responsabilidad personal, al tiempo que borra las conexiones con nuestras historias personales y sociales. Como resultado de este proceso, enfrentamos una lucha constante por definir nuestra identidad y creer en nuestras propias verdades. ¿Habrá una alternativa a este camino que no deja de profundizarse? Tal vez, como dice el sociólogo Zygmunt Bauman, debemos recuperar el poder de lo público, el interés por la vida pública  donde seamos más que una suma de partes.




Argentina en el Juego Global: Elecciones, BRICS y las Propuestas de Milei

artículo de Lucía Scorzelli


Las elecciones nacionales no solo influyen en el rumbo de Argentina, sino que también se ven impactadas por las relaciones internacionales. En un mundo en constante cambio, es crucial entender el papel de Argentina en la escena global y las ideas de los candidatos en este terreno. El artículo contextualiza el cambio global y analiza la relevancia de los BRICS. También aborda el análisis de Milei y su postura ante la globalización, China y la dolarización. ¿Son sus posturas por ignorancia o por intereses ajenos al país? En este contexto, comprender geopolítica y geofinanzas se vuelve fundamental para preservar la autonomía y posición de Argentina en la arena internacional.


UNA MIRADA AL JUEGO GLOBAL

Primero debemos mirar lo que está sucediendo en el mundo. La dinámica global está experimentando un cambio significativo en las últimas décadas, caracterizado por una desglobalización marcada y el surgimiento de dos bloques de poder bien definidos. Por un lado, tenemos a Estados Unidos y la OTAN manteniendo su posición como una potencia global. Por otro lado, tenemos a Rusia y China que han consolidado una alianza estratégica. Esta alianza comenzó a tomar forma después de la crisis financiera de 2008, cuando Wall Street sufrió un duro golpe con la caída de “Lehman Brothers”. Para lidiar con la crisis, Estados Unidos buscó encauzar sus consecuencias hacia China, lo que marcó el comienzo de un acercamiento económico y político entre Rusia y China. Este proceso que podría considerarse como el inicio del camino hacia un nuevo modelo económico que desafía la hegemonía estadounidense, se vio reforzado con la guerra en Ucrania, al estar diseñada para debilitar a Rusia. Además, exacerbó aún más la competencia entre Estados Unidos y China, especialmente en la búsqueda de recursos como el litio, que podríamos definir como “the new energy order”.

LOS BRICS Y SU IMPORTANCIA PARA ARGENTINA

Estamos ante un nuevo juego, la definición de un nuevo orden mundial. Este escenario se perfila con el ascenso de los BRICS, sería como el equipo que está desafiando a los campeones mundiales de este juego global. Este equipo originalmente está conformado por Brasil, Rusia, India, China y Sudáfrica, y a partir de enero de 2024 se sumarían  Argentina, Arabia Saudita, Egipto, Etiopía, Irán y Emiratos Árabes Unidos. Aunque estos países son diversos, comparten la característica de ser economías emergentes  que buscan mayor cooperación económica y social por fuera de los organismos internacionales dominantes. Los BRICS han creado su propio banco, el Nuevo Banco de Desarrollo, desafiando al FMI y al Banco Mundial.También han establecido un Acuerdo de Reservas de Contingencia para promover una mayor seguridad financiera global. Lo más interesante es que estos países han decidido comerciar usando sus propias monedas, sin depender exclusivamente del dólar.

El ingreso de Argentina a los BRICS se vuelve crucial en este contexto. Más del 40% de las exportaciones de nuestro país tienen por destino alguno de los estados que integran los BRICS. Además, esta asociación podría ofrecer una solución a las urgencias financieras que atraviesa y su falta de dólares constantes. No podemos pasar por alto que Argentina posee una de las mayores reservas de litio, un recurso clave en la actual crisis energética mundial, esto nos convierte en un punto de disputa entre bloques de poder.

LAS PROPUESTAS DE MILEI Y SUS IMPLICACIONES

En este sentido se vuelve relevante hablar de Milei, uno de los candidatos más votados y con grandes posibilidades de ganar, ya que su posición va en contra de la tendencia mundial hacia la globalización. Hablemos un poco de sus propuestas. En términos de política exterior, rechaza a China y la participación de Argentina en los BRICS. Para dimensionar la importancia en estos temas nombremos algunos datos: el PBI combinado de estos países representa aproximadamente el 26% de la actividad económica global. Controlan el 43% de la producción de petróleo y el 40% de la de gas. Formar parte de este grupo podría abrir oportunidades para impulsar nuestro comercio exterior y encontrar alternativas al financiamiento del FMI.

En otras palabras, casi toda nuestra economía depende en gran medida de las relaciones con China En 2021, las exportaciones argentinas representaron solo el 0.38% del total de las importaciones de productos de la República Popular China. En contraste, durante ese mismo año, las exportaciones de productos argentinos hacia China representaron el 8.76% del total nacional. Por lo tanto, rechazar esta relación basándose en afirmaciones como ‘No me gusta China porque es comunista’, como ha expresado el candidato, parece al menos un enfoque bastante ignorante.

DOLARIZACIÓN Y LAS ISLAS MALVINAS

En lo que respecta a la política interna, Milei plantea la idea de dolarizar nuestra economía. Pero aquí está el dilema: por un lado esta propuesta va en contra de la tendencia mundial hacia la desdolarización. La propuesta plantea preocupaciones adicionales, ya que requeriría adquirir grandes cantidades de dólares, lo que podría llevar a un acuerdo desfavorable para Argentina en la que se deba pagar un señoraje a Estados Unidos, como explica el analista político Alfredo Jalife-Rahme. Por el otro, ¿cómo se relaciona esto con las Islas Malvinas? La presencia británica en las Islas se debe a que es una zona sumamente  estratégica, porque conecta el puerto de Ushuaia en Argentina con la región de la Antártida, rica en recursos como gas y petróleo.

Esto, a su vez, podría influir en la disputa sobre las Islas y en nuestra capacidad de posicionamiento frente a gobiernos extranjeros y a inversionistas tales como por ejemplo Paul Elliott Singer, quien tiene historial en este tema (Singer es conocido por su papel en la reestructuración de la deuda argentina, que adquirió a través de su fondo Elliott Management. Él y su fondo llevaron a cabo una larga batalla legal con el gobierno argentino por el pago total de la deuda argentina después del incumplimiento de 2001.). En otras palabras, la dolarización implicaría un revés regional en relación con los BRICS y una posibilidad de entregar la Antártida a la angloesfera. Por lo tanto, las implicaciones de la dolarización van más allá de las cuestiones económicas y afectan a la política internacional de Argentina. Entonces surge la pregunta ¿Las posiciones de Milei son por ignorancia o por intereses ajenos al país?

A MODO DE CONCLUSIÓN

En el contexto de la desglobalización y la reconfiguración de las relaciones internacionales, es fundamental que un líder entienda la geopolítica y las geofinanzas. La propuesta de Milei podría llevar a un escenario en el que Argentina pierda parte de su soberanía y capacidad de negociación en un mundo en constante cambio. Tomar decisiones sabias en estas elecciones no solo determinará el futuro de Argentina, sino también su papel en el escenario global.



Acerca de Lucía Scorzelli

Lucía Scorzelli es estudiante de la carrera de Ciencia Política en la Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), interesada en el análisis de la realidad política y social. Nacida en Asunción del Paraguay reside actualmente en la ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

lucindagabriell@gmail.com
Instagram.com @Luci_Scorzelli



 

Interlitq’s Californian Poets Interview Series: Kim Dower, Poet, Former West Hollywood Poet Laureate (2016-2018), intervie...


Kim Dower

November 7th, 2023

Interlitq’s Californian Poets Interview Series:

Kim Dower, Poet, Former West Hollywood Poet Laureate
(2016-2018)

interviewed by David Garyan

 

Kim Dower’s poems appear in Interlitq’s California Poets Feature



DG: From 2016-2018, you were the Poet Laureate of West Hollywood, a dynamic, culturally rich city. Can you talk about this period, some of the work you wrote, and also your experiences in general related to serving this city?

KD: I loved everything about being West Hollywood’s City Poet Laureate and the opportunities it afforded me, one of which was to teach a Saturday morning poetry workshop at the West Hollywood Library, a gorgeous facility facing the hills. Five years after my “service” was complete, I still teach there and I’m still grateful to know the interesting people who sign up. During my time as Poet Laureate I became aware of how many people really don’t care or know much about poetry, but if you introduce it to them in a fun and entertaining way they are immediately drawn to its magic and able to appreciate the joy poetry brings. In 2017 I took on an ambitious project. I went around the city visiting shops, parks, bars—to our wonderful bookstore, Book Soup on Sunset Blvd, to the yogurt shop, library, and collected lines from over 100 WeHo residents and visitors. (Basically, I asked strangers to answer one of three prompts). I then wove their lines together into a collaborative poem entitled, I Sing the Body West Hollywood, an homage to Walt Whitman.  he City of West Hollywood created posters of the poem which they sent to libraries and schools, and displayed them on bus shelters. They also commissioned a visual artist to create public art banners based on the poem, and it was even turned into an animated video for which I narrated!

DG: What’s one venue in West Hollywood you love to read your work in, and why? 

KD: The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division hosts a series called WeHo Reads and many events are held at the City’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room downstairs from the West Hollywood Library. I’ve read there a few times, once “in conversation” with Richard Blanco and once with Eloise Klein Healy. It’s a beautiful venue—large auditorium, great acoustics, and always a receptive, engaged, enthusiastic audience.

DG: It’s been your honor to be featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac ten times, most recently on July 28th, 2021, with a wonderful poem called “It’s Wednesday, Not Thursday.” What’s your personal favorite out of the ten that appeared, and why?

KD: Yes, my honor, indeed. It’s always a thrill to hear Mr. Keillor read one of my poems. I love how he interprets them. I can’t say which of the ten is my favorite because each one he chooses instantly becomes my favorite! I will say that the poems he’s selected over the years are poems I still like—and ones that show my best work. He enjoys my sense of humor! I will always be grateful to him for the attention he’s brought to my work and for introducing me to so many other incredible poems and poets. I’ve often received emails of gratitude and solicitations from editors the day he runs one of my poems. I’m most proud of this—one of the emails I received after he ran “Bottled Water:”

From an 8th grade English teacher in Michigan:

Our 8th grade Advanced English class read your poem, “Bottled Water” today, as part of our study of narrative poetry. We had a lively discussion about the poem—and whether it was intended to be comical and sarcastic or if the bottled water selection actually was intended to be stressful for the narrator. One of our students shared her own experience with anxiety and said she can relate to the feeling of too many choices. There were also questions raised about whether the poem was metaphorical. Would you be willing to respond to us and let us know what mood or tone you intended when you wrote the poem? Also, the 8th graders wonder what bottled water you prefer. 🙂

Thank you, 8th Grade poets from Hudsonville, Michigan

I cried reading that. Just the fact that my poem, written at lunch during a busy work day (though revised 100 times) was being discussed in this way by 8th graders because an inspired teacher in Michigan read The Writer’s Almanac that morning was a miracle to me. I ended up talking with her class over the phone. It’s one of the most important and special poetry experiences I’ve ever had.

DG: Let’s talk more generally. You were born in New York, studied at Emerson College, then moved to LA. To say you’ve come a long way is an understatement. What have been the biggest challenges but also the accomplishments you cherish most?

KD: Speaking only about professional/work challenges and accomplishments, rather than personal ones, I would say my ability to finally, successfully merge my business self with my poet self has been my biggest challenge and accomplishment. I’m convinced that growing up in New York City infused me with energy, clarity and ambition that carried me for decades. Leaving Boston—my college years, early poetry writing and teaching Creative Writing years—to move to Los Angeles in my twenties with no guarantees except for good weather was certainly a challenge, but didn’t feel like one. It was much easier back then. Cheap rents. Lots of jobs. No internet to make you feel “less than.” The challenge and accomplishment I cherish most is in mid-life having the stamina, desire and ability to continue earning a living as a literary publicist, (which I still do) but at the same time dive back into my life as a poet—resume the focus and commitment to write each day, go to a poetry workshop every Saturday morning (for ten years), travel to literary festivals, send my poems out, open up to the community of poets, relearn, get back to the craft, immerse myself. That was the challenge. The accomplishment was publishing five collections with one on the way and having the great pleasure of teaching again.

DG: You have an upcoming collection, What She Wants, set to be released by Red Hen Press in 2025. Red Hen has been a big supporter of your work throughout the years, having published five of your collections. Can you speak about how the press has impacted the literary scene of not only LA, but California and the nation in general? In addition, without giving anything away, what can we expect from this new collection?

KD: In this terrifying, narrowing, sad world of publishing where only the bottom line counts and the most important criteria for publishing a book is how many copies (units!) the author’s previous book has sold, what their “platform” is, how many fans do they have on Instagram, Red Hen Press remains committed to discovering “voices,” to publishing authors and poets who have something original and impactful to say, committed to unique work that readers will enjoy. Their impact on the literary scene is that Red Hen is more than just a publishing company—one that still cares about literature—but they are also a community, bringing writers and poets together to do events, readings, having conversations with one another. I’ll always be grateful to Kate Gale and Mark Cull for publishing my work and for welcoming me into a community of other writers.  Regarding the “subject” of my new collection – it’s quite different from my previous one that explored mothers and motherhood. The subtitle of What She Wants is Poems on Obsession, Desire, Despair, Euphoria. That’s what you can expect from this new collection! Obsessive love has never been so much fun!

DG: You’ve taught two fascinating workshops, Poetry and Memory, and Poetry and Dreaming. Memory and dreaming are sometimes at odds, as memory fades gradually, and dreams are often impossible to remember. Can you speak briefly about the workshops and some of the interesting pieces that participants produced?

KD: Memory may gradually fade, but you’d be amazed at which memories remain crystal clear. A family vacation, for example. Ah, those memories stuffed in the back seat of the car eating bags of Cheetos remain ripe for eternity! I always say (to myself and to my students) that one’s poems are not necessarily autobiographical though readers always want to presume they are. Take one specific memory and run with it. Embellish. Lie. But the memory (that awful car ride) is where the emotion is and it can really propel that poem. The details of a poem can be made up, but the emotion must be authentic. For Poetry & Memory, for example, I’ll ask my students to take 5 minutes of automatic writing (not lifting their pen or editing as they write) and describe a cake from childhood. The results are fascinating. A cake from childhood. We all remember one and the drama surrounding it.

For Poetry & Dreaming I ask participants to keep a sleep journal for two weeks before the class and jot down whatever images they can remember. It might just be a line or two. “I was leaning against the wall inside a dark building, trying to hide from the lion as he ran down the hall.” The students bring in their journals and read some of their lines aloud. I ask that everyone listen carefully and jot down lines that intrigue them and write a poem using the lines they’ve written down. The results are amazing! A collaborative poem using lines from other people’s dreams.

DG: One of the project dearest to you has been I Wore This Dress Today For You, Mom, an anthology of poems that The San Diego Union-Tribune has called “a brilliant, meditative examination of maternity and motherhood.” Two questions: When and how did you start thinking about the project and how has motherhood, throughout the years, affected your own writing?

KD: After publishing four collections over a period of about 13 years, I realized that some of my most memorable and meaningful poems, the ones people enjoy and relate to the most, were my poems about my own mother—growing up with her and her decline from dementia, as well as my poems about being a mother. I thought it would be interesting to pull all my “motherhood” related poems out of the various books, put them in a sequence along with the newer unpublished ones, and create one collection with a beginning, middle and end telling a story of Motherhood. I wondered if this sort of collection would bring more readers in—not just poetry lovers, but people who didn’t really read poetry regularly. It did. It resonated. Of course motherhood has affected my own writing, but the poems in this collection were written after my son left for college on the other side of the country. His leaving and my missing him was a great part of what brought me back to writing. Longing for him, filling the void of being an “everyday mother” and suddenly looking back on the years and recording them as if they were new. His leaving stirred many emotions and also freed me to write poems that had been stacking up for years. My writing was, more accurately, affected by the loss of motherhood. Though, as we all know, the time of packing lunchboxes will end, but being a mother will not.

DG: From 1996 to 2011 you worked for Larry Flynt as his personal and book publicist. Your article in The LA Times, “Appreciation: Why working with Larry Flynt was an endless adrenaline rush — and an education,” paints quite a different picture than what someone who knows nothing about him might expect. Everything worth knowing for those who read the news is in the article, except for the one burning question every poet wants to know: Did he admire poetry?

KD: Interesting association: Motherhood to Larry Flynt! Do you really think that’s the one burning question every poet wants to know? Because if so, here’s the answer: NO! Second to his passion for protecting First Amendment Rights, Larry Flynt admired money. If something didn’t make any money he pretty much didn’t admire it. No interest. I was still working with him when my first book, Air Kissing On Mars was published. I remember bringing an inscribed copy for him when I went to meet him for lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel. In pink felt tip pen I had written: Dear Mr. Flynt—read these poems and learn something! Love, Kim. He didn’t open the book. Probably never saw the inscription. I handed it to him. He held it in his shaky hand, looked at it for a long time. The cover is fabulous, by the way, very sexy and evocative. He stared at it. Put it down. This make any money? he asked me with his signature drawl. It’s poetry, Larry. No money, I told him. He put his hand on top of the book and slid it to the other side of the table.

That was it. That was all. I hope the server grabbed it and took it home. Or some famous guest staying at the hotel.

DG: What are you reading at the moment?

Re-reading Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems (for the 100th time), Matthew Zapruder’s wonderful Story of a Poem, and a fascinating book called The Sullivanians: Sex, Psychotherapy, and the Wild Live of an American Commune about a cult of people in the 60’s on the Upper West Side of Manhattan—exactly the time and place where I grew up. Trying to figure out if I went to school with any of those kids!



Author Bio:

Kim Dower, Former City Poet Laureate of West Hollywood, has published five highly acclaimed collections of poetry, including the Gold Ippy Award winning collection Sunbathing on Tyrone Power’s Grave. Her newest collection, the bestselling I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom was an Eric Hoffer Book Award finalist. Red Hen Press will be publishing her upcoming book, What She Wants, in February, 2025. Widely anthologized, Kim teaches writing workshops for Antioch University, the West Hollywood Library, and the UCLA Writer’s Extension.

Armenian Genocide, a poem by David Garyan published in Interlitq

This poem previously appeared in Volume 7 of The American Journal of Poetry (July 1st, 2019).

Please click here read the story behind the initiative to republish all my work lost with the disappearance of The American Journal of Poetry.


 


Daniel, this holocaust is for you.
Let me burn your blank pages,
soak the ashes in history’s blood—
just to darken it.
What’s your shade of red?
Do you know its price?
Your rubies aren’t ruby enough.
The government gods
want more holocausts—
just to be appeased.
Let your books go to the fire,
along with all Armenian bodies—
is that enough works cited?
Maybe then regimes
would say “genocide,”
and Turkey could apologize—
at last … no one’s left
to demand redress,
or even an apology.
This is the only holocaust I can offer;
it’s mine and it’s not mine.

I would throw our legends
into Ծիծեռնակաբերդ—
I would set all our churches on fire,
spoil our monuments
in the blaze as a holocaust,
just to bring everyone back.
What have we done to anger the gods?
What have we done to deserve this?
And yet all will be well.
People and land are gone,
but we stood at Sardarabad.
We’re still here.
Let me tell you about those
who were with you—
some had no country then;
Slovakia and the Czech Republic
are less than 30 years old,
and they haven’t forgotten.
I’m now 31, the age when you died,
and death doesn’t scare me yet,
but when your captors raised knives,
you heard hope—
it was escaping like hummingbirds
in your lungs trying to pierce their way out.
How did you steal enough air
to express your torture,
much less breathe?
Uruguay first heard your cries,
then Cyprus, Argentina, Russia,
Greece, Canada, Lebanon, Belgium, France,
Italy, Vatican City, Switzerland, the Netherlands,
Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Venezuela,
Chile, Sweden, Bolivia, Austria, Brazil,
Syria, Paraguay, Luxembourg, Bulgaria,
and, of course, Armenia
never stopped listening.
More people will hear you.
More people will come.
Raphael Lemkin took the last breath
of each victim to beget
the term “genocide.”
This word used to be our word,
and, sadly, it no longer is;
others have died to breathe life
into this name and I wish
things were different.
The world is less innocent
with “genocide” in it.
Everyone can hear
your last breath,
but many fear repeating
what they heard:

“Genocide.”

Your final gasp is my holocaust.
Forgive me. My paper is just paper,
but this ink will reach
your grave.
Tell me—is revenge
a good thing if it feels good?
Those behind our suffering
were sentenced to death,
but they all escaped justice.
We put down
the main architects
of our plight,
and Europe’s courts
have absolved us,
but even European courts
can’t make God preside over them—
I ask that you pray
for our race when we praise
the revenge of our brothers.
Like wind scattering a torn book,
the genocide has strewn
survivors across the world.
Much of the pain
can no longer be felt,
only understood—
time has lulled
the red ink to black.
I won’t let
years and statistics
keep your blood from drying.
I won’t let wise ears
of old history
go deaf to your cries.
The poet isn’t the historian of facts.
You’re the archivist
of laughter and tears.
Inside your pen were voices
from near and distant futures.
The bard is a chronicler,
but he has hemophilia;
those who injure him
incur torment—
they must endure
the endless howls of his ink;
to kill poets is to kill one’s self—
read lines enter
the murderer’s nation
and speak to the soil—
forcing honest crops to grow there.
Denial—prisons without walls or guards
surrounded by minefields.
Denial—truth that wears gloves
when handling ethics.
Denial—hospitals that only
admit healthy people.
Denial—palm trees of regret
planted deep in the desert—
no one can reach
their dates of apology.
Denial marks moveable
feasts on calendars without numbers.
Denial blindfolds justice—
just to let killers escape.
Denial hangs a noose
in cells of the innocent.
Denial arrests the blameless,
severs their tongue and hands,
then says: “All are free to acquit
themselves of stealing and slander.”
Still, the pens we left
were picked up,
carried by righteous palms,
which saved the books
of our history;
foreign tongues tasted the lies
and stopped them like circles
trapped in a circle.
Daniel, your name
has erased the word “denial”
from the Murder Dictionary;
its authors now trudge deserts
of reason to hide from your face;
they have no ink to quench
their lexicons of shame.
The culprit lies,
claiming Armenians
were the enemy.
Have you seen such enemies
die without weapons?

The sinner boasts, claiming Armenians
were dangerous—the desert marches
served as brief transfers.
Did you know people
must be raped and starved
on long walks to a new home?

The crook twists, claiming Armenians
were the real killers.
Have you seen genocide
memorials in foreign countries
honoring murderers?



The conniver acts, claiming Armenians
and Turks were killing each other.
Have you seen a more one-sided defeat?
Can unarmed armies
lose wars this badly?

The thief hides, claiming Armenians
were better off,
and this led to jealousy.
Could it be true?
Maybe diplomas and wealth
are cause for genocide:

“The Armenians were better educated and wealthier than most Turks and because of that were envied and hated, so much so that the government instituted a program of ethnic cleansing. The Turks had had practice runs before. Between 1894 and 1896, 200,000 Armenians were massacred by soldiers and armed mobs.”
The Australian, “Geoffrey Robertson puts the case against Turkey for 1915 Armenian genocide” (2015)

Those are the accusations.
Forgive me once more.
I shouldn’t have refuted
claims that don’t deserve
our ink, or even attention,
but like revenge—
what can be wrong
often feels good.
Still, as victims,
we can’t take our red
bed sheets and pillows—
forcing the innocent
to sleep on them;
they need peace
as much as we do.
We can’t forget
the righteous;
only denial and murder
makes one a menace—
not birth alone.
Your life was a garden
where bodies were buried.
Your death is a graveyard
where strangers
leave the dead flowers.
I tried taking your tears
off this page by holding
the paper up to the sun,
but the words never dried.
Never mind.
I’ll stop writing this poem
when your life gives me one
metaphor for happiness.
You haven’t left us—
we’re archaeologists of echoes.
The desert’s breath
still speaks your name.
How can I find truth
in archives and books—
their voice is distorted
by those who keep them?
Even the white gloves
I must wear can’t silence
the racket of cities.
The poet’s truth sounds true
at first sound.
I ask you again:
What price is your red shade?
Is it higher on earth than in heaven?
They want too much for it here.
They need to measure
the pH of your blood—
perhaps it was too acidic.
They’d like to research
how far you walked
to your death—
if you didn’t walk at all,
or only very little,
you should be thankful
for the killer’s kindness.
They want to debate—
were you given
something to eat
on your death march?
Even crumbs
from a guilty hand can wipe
the blood away from its history.
They crave to count
the bodies again—
the death toll was inflated,
and statistics are very important:
One, two, three,
four, five, six, seven,
eight, nine, ten, eleven,
twelve, thirteen, fourteen,
fifteen, sixteen, seventeen,
eighteen, nineteen, twenty,
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27,
28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34,
XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII,
XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL,
XLI, XLII, XLIII, XLIV,
XLV, XLVI, XLVII, XLVIII …
if less than a million died,
this woman becomes a doctor
of history and data.

Those who deny,
kill the victims’ memories—
they inherit the crimes
of their ancestors.
Rest here, friend; the worst is over.
Science says you can’t
breathe underwater;
it says most lungs
can stop textbook drowning
for a minute or so;
after that the brain
turns to “D” in its wordbook—
it goes down
the terms until its own
inventions can’t rescue you.
But how is that true?
Victims can breathe
under innocent blood.

How else can God keep
a race from perishing?
Why else have history’s
sluggish eyes
never witnessed
a final genocide?
Its pages are honest,
but they can only be honest
with what they’ve seen.
Geschichte is a guest who must describe
a party where thousands
have gathered—without the time
to shake everyone’s hand.
The tongues of foreign pens
tasted our blood
and spoke the word “genocide.”
The fingers of foreign brushes
forced guilt to open its fist.
The hands of foreign lenses
led eyes to the bodies
and made them discover;
yet history had no time
to meet everyone.
Too many songs
have been orphaned in the wind’s ears.
Too much laughter has been shelved
in the library without windows.
Too much anger has traveled
inside the unaddressed envelope.
Too much hope glows
in the stained glass of lost churches.
Poets can speak the wind’s alphabet;
they can pound on doors
of libraries without windows;
they can take blank envelopes
and address them to the fire;
they can bring light
to dark mornings,
but even we can’t make
old days see a new past.
We can only wonder:
How long could history
keep its eyes open
if it had to face
each dead child,
each raped woman?
We can only fathom:
When would the objective
voice of its pages
start shaking
if it had to find every body—
just to count it?
We can only picture:
Might its cold arms
finally give up
if sources had to lead
all corpses back
to their homes?
We can only imagine:
How much blood can it stomach
before the archives throw up
truth in disgust?

Again I ask:
How much for a bard’s blood?
History is the past’s shepherd,
but its flock has become too large—
it can no longer see till the end.
There’s not enough time
to notice small losses.
Poetry is the future’s steward,
yet it’s losing the fight against time;
it wants to save all lives,
but there’s not enough paper
to hide victims under blankets of verse.
You had no time to wait for art.
When they dragged
you to the forest,
you scratched
your lines of death on the bark—
all with bloody fingernails,
until you had no biology
left to write with.
The memories of trees
live the longest.
Even if their life is cut short,
some can sprout
new stems from their roots.
The history of blood
doesn’t exist in libraries;
the ashes of wisdom
we’ve planted in our archives
can’t absorb buried voices
and carry them to the leaves—
their roots
aren’t placed in the ground.
The history of blood
doesn’t have dates—
just the symbol for infinity.
Cruelty’s extent lies
in the number of prisons,
and how we treat women,
but that’s all false.
To measure
the volume of gore,
see how many new words
we need to define massacres:
pogrom, genocide, the Holocaust.
What’s next?
Can I be wrong about infinity?
Let “Holocaust” be the last
term for plight.
What’s the difference
between one death and ten million?
Tell me, Daniel.
History opens its eyes,
weighing loss with a scale;
poetry closes its eyes,
measuring with the heart.
The Library of Genocide
is built out of mirrors;
when the past enters,
it sees its reflection,
but the Library never tells
the biographer of blood
that all mirrors are two-way—
that bards are looking
in from the outside.
Only poets can interrogate history—
only poets can bring it to trial.
Their eyes are two flashes
of lightning striking a forest at night.
Their testimony is evidence
gathered by saints.
Your son was born
on the day of your death—
a welcome blessing,
but even the bard’s
house of language
doesn’t have space
to lodge these guests together.
Your wife wasn’t afraid
to name him “Haig,”
even when the tongue
of the killer’s blade
was after Armenian flesh.
The living can’t understand
the word “genocide.”
Only victims who spilled
their lives on page “G”
of the Blood Dictionary
know the true meaning—
this is a torment your offspring
weren’t forced to endure.
Poets know where
they must dig to build wells
that will raise tears
from the ground,
but they’d rather be asked
to do harder things—
speak with the frankness
of children who are good
storytellers, but poor liars.
All kids
know what blood is,
even if they can’t say
it has an average pH of 7.40
and holds 4.2 to 6.1 million erythrocytes.
All kids
can recognize the guise of genocide,
even if it wears the friendly face
of a low number.

Bards lie—
but only like youngsters;
they steal truth from the blood jar,
but never clean their mouths.
They guide archaeologists
to buried graveyards—
no pen stops digging
when hands are cut off.
Yet, we’d rather be asked
to do harder things,
like visit decency’s drying cement
and write “forgiveness”—
before it’s too late.
If we demand with axes,
the tree of denial won’t yield
apology’s ripe fruits—
we must save the roots
after picking the red grapes.
We’re geographers who’ve lost
our homes—the land
we must study
no longer bears our names,
but even this isn’t hopeless;
it’s easier to leave
regret’s shore with torn canvases.
Rage will rage at the avalanche,
even from its own summit.
Peace will find peace in all temples.
We create our ink
like portrait painters
in diverse lands,
but each voice
has its complexion.
We can see hope
inside the stadium where love
is always the visiting team.
We’d rather answer prayers
than use dog ears
to hear faraway trouble.
We’d rather stop history from bleeding
than use a shark’s nose
to find distant blood.
We’d rather get rid of darkness
than use owl eyes
to record dark crimes.
We’d rather pave a safe
road to one village
than divine every way
leading to tyranny.
We’d rather keep one person from drowning
than find the wreckage of tragedy.
You sang quietly
in life’s rear procession;
those at the front never noticed,
until history went forward
and told us you’re gone.
They made you give up the bard
before they made you give up the ghost—
manuscripts,
every last drop of ink,
all the blank papers.
You weren’t supposed
to die as a poet—
somehow you did.
What did you manage to hide
from your captors?
Those who craft verse
get only thin veils to conceal it.
How did you smuggle your bard
out from the prison called fate?
Your lines didn’t scare them—
only one thing did:
Letting history witness
your death and having it alter
the parade of their crimes.
With a priest, your wife
retrieved The Song of the Bread,
waiting to be finished.
All it took was a bribe—
this shows how much
they feared your words,
which spoke of farmers and fields:

“It’s the sower. He is standing tall and stout
in the sunset’s rays which are like flowing gold;
before his feet are the fields of the fatherland
spreading their unlimited nakedness.”

Who can be an enemy to that?
Does this make you a traitor?

“I’m harvesting alone tonight;
my love has a love.
My pale scythe, a slice of light
from the full moon above.

I walk through dark furrows,
head and feet bare.
She’s wearing a bridal veil,
I wear the wind on my hair.

I cut through the waving wheat.
Her hair is a lake.
I shear and bind my grain
while a mourning dove wakes.”

Who, then, can kill
poets as poets?
The death of one rhyme is a holocaust.
Genocide—quilts stitched
out of all blood types.
Genocide—hourglasses
filled with victims’ ashes.
Genocide—sundials
presented to Hades.
Genocide—the devil’s red pen
correcting utopian poems.
Genocide—Trojan horses
entering towns without walls.
Genocide—equations
that always come out to 0
when people are added.
Genocide—translators
who think the word “suffering”
only exists in their language.
Genocide shoots millions
of family photos—
frames them blank side facing the glass,
then hangs each in the Museum of Hate.
Historians should ask:
What do poets call genocide?
Really? What does it matter?
If we write “death
is a room full of clocks
that only work in the darkness,”
critics will say: “You’re no expert.
And you’ve never been to this room.”
True.
We can imagine what we’ve seen,
but we can’t see what we haven’t seen.
This is my genocide and it isn’t.

I’m trying to grasp your fire
by walking barefoot
on the coals of our past.
Yet that’s impossible—
facts of time move ahead …
… sympathy’s warmth stays behind.
With each year that departs,
genocide’s heirs must go
deeper into history’s desert—
just to bring victims some empathy.
Time has eyes
in the back of its head,
but it never opens
them when surging forward.
Time has always been
the butcher’s best lawyer.
Time only buys fresh blood
at the Genocide Store;
it packs new slaughter
and stamps the good—
best before next election;
time never feels well
if history invites it
but doesn’t serve veal
genocide.
100 years is enough—
let’s feast as one
without one apology.
But we won’t let years
or even seconds
become evidence.

Centuries won’t be long enough
for killers to clean
the guilt off their words—
sell them to the world
as “brand new.”
Seconds will be too long
for the past to blink.
We’ll plant the patience
of Sequoias in our kids.
We’ll pull the weeds
from their gardens of empathy.
We’ll teach them the brain
surgeon’s sobriety—
they won’t lack
the cultivation
of winemakers.
They’ll learn harmony
from the silence of monks,
and silence from books that spout lies.
We won’t build windmills underground
just to placate cross winds.
Our breath will keep turning
pages of tomorrow’s diary.
I hear your words:

“There’s a nation on my writing table—
an ancient nation speaking to me
from this soil where dawn was born.”

We have poets willing
to plow the earth;
wine-making priests,
teachers willing to learn …
… plowing, praying, and winemaking,
librarians letting infants
cry among old books;
we have doctors
helping bury our dead,
soldiers who sing
about triumph and loss,
painters who paint
those with no name,
sculptors who sculpt
those with no fame.
How did you know this soil
was fertilized with our blood?

“Perhaps this rust-red color
hasn’t been bestowed by nature—
a sponge for wounds,
this soil drank from life, from sunlight,
and, living defenselessly, it turned red,
becoming Armenian soil.”

We’ll grow cherries
and pomegranates
until the ground dies of thirst.
We won’t fear spilling
red wine before it becomes
Christ’s blood.
Our desire is patient—like clocks
that seduce cognac;
our patience is fleeting, like thousands
of church candles lit at the same time.
Now I feel as you do:

“The chords of my nerves shiver
with a trembling that furrows
the mind to wider creative paths
than the sun-soaked winds of spring can.
And all my senses are woken up
by lips still calling for vengeance
and souls still red with wounds.”

We shall seek revenge,
but music will make
the sound of our guns.
We’ll be first to draw red,
but the shade will flow
from our Ararat Scales,
not from enemy pain.
Our poets have cartridges
filled with the past.
Revenge is a battle
that must be won without war.
The Library of Genocide
may invite killers inside,
but it mustn’t deny
them the exit to log
guilt in its own archives.
We have to fight
with antique guns until history
surrenders its centuries of apathy.
Wrath must be a bomb
that explodes when the timer
has counted to infinity.
Revenge should be blunt—
like swords owned
by heroes who’ve lost,
but care not for revenge.
Foes should be free
to deny until they find
their humanity lost;
such wars can be won.
Sharpened pens,
brushes dipped in read history—
both can cross enemy borders
without crossing their land.
My heart is a children’s library
next to a graveyard—
it has no space
for any more bodies.
Genocide is a million dead figures
of speech trying to grow crimson
clichés on forget-me fields—
yet poetry is a forget-me-not.

“Never again.” “We shall never forget.”
“Justice.” “We demand recognition.”
Unlike nations,
verse has no space
for clichés in its canons,
nor red on its flags.
We keep reading History’s
unfinished epic, Pages of Blood,
which not even Time
has the time to complete—
only humanity’s death can finish it.
I’m tired of asking:
How much for a poet’s gore?
Your heart—
a white hummingbird
cut open at night.
Your eyes—
two black panthers
caught in a snowstorm.
Your voice—
the howl of a wolf caged in a theater.
Your smile—
a bridge joining two nations at war.
Your verse—
taxi drivers
taking scenic routes,
never charging extra.
I won’t describe the shade of your red—
let people read for themselves.
The death of one person is a genocide
if you kill the only one like him.
Who, then, is the same as someone else?

We don’t want numbers.
We want to count on truth.
Only final genocides
merit pity—we want a future.
Lost homes, lost territories,
land as concession for peace—
still some claim our nation
has too much space on the map.

Invaders have passed;
the soil is a passport stamped
by a motley of fingerprints.
We never had Alexander’s empire,
America’s dreams,
China’s silk,
or Caesar,
but the Silk Road was there,
and Romans once too.
Alexander’s armies came.
Jamestown had an Armenian in 1618.
This is our scent—
a cellar full of old
books that haven’t been read;
wine forgotten
in a barrel;
a pond where mosquitos
are never disturbed;
a loud waterfall
still undiscovered;
the descent from an unclimbed mountain.
Armenia, why don’t you go away?
Just stop demanding.
We don’t want your spoiled wine—
your antibodies drying
in the desert for years.
Britain won’t dip its hands
in your mosquito pond.
Your pain is too loud,
but also too remote.
For God’s sake, we hear you,
and we’d like to reach out,
but we’re not willing
to step over “good” fences—
though the red paint is yours:

“HMG is open to criticism in terms of the ethical dimension. But given the importance of our relations (political, strategic and commercial) with Turkey, and that recognising the genocide would provide no practical benefit to the UK or the few survivors of the killings still alive today, nor would it help a rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey, the current line is the only feasible option.”
—House of Lords Debate (1999)

“The Foreign Office documents include advice in 1995 to the then Tory foreign minister, Douglas Hogg, that he should refuse to attend a memorial service for the victims, and attempts to encourage the idea that historians were in disagreement over the facts. The government refused to include the Armenian massacres as part of holocaust memorial day.”
The Guardian, “Britain accused of ‘genocide denial’ over Armenia” (2009)

“Finally, in October 2007, when the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, the Foreign Office wrote an alarming memorandum, expressing concern that ‘the Armenian diaspora worldwide lobbying machine’ would now ‘go into overdrive!’”
Huffington Post, “Internal Documents Reveal UK Officials Misled Parliament on Armenian Genocide” (2010)

“Genocide scholarship is one thing that the FCO have never been interested in applying to an issue they wish would go away. There is no reference in the papers to the 2007 resolution of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, which resolved that ‘the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the empire between 1914-23 constituted a genocide against Armenians and the Assyrians and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks’. The FCO merely evinces concerns that the US House of Foreign Affairs Committee had resolved to recognize the events as genocide: as a result, ‘we can also expect the Armenian Diaspora worldwide lobbying machine to go into overdrive’. This is hardly the language of an impartial enquirer: the FCO had become a rather cynical adversary of the truth, or at least of a Foreign Minister ever uttering it.”
—Geoffrey Robertson QC, An Inconvenient Genocide (2014)

“The British government has a strong track record in sophistry. Since Turkey became a strategic partner in the Nineties, the Foreign Office has been honing a set of cod-legal arguments designed to deceive Parliament – and by extension the electorate – into believing that the term ‘genocide’ is not appropriate in this case. Its current position is that it will only use the label if an international tribunal has already done so. This is a nimble legal dodge, which rules out recognising almost every genocide in history.”
The Independent, “It’s pure sophistry that stops Britain recognising the Armenian genocide” (2015)

Yet, none of this is Britain;
for us it will always be
Benjamin Whitaker.
One person’s voice
can be greater than
the honored crowd’s silence.
What, then, is a life worth?
Could we define genocide
if war pushes us to the brink—
when there won’t be millions
to kill without shame?
Is the price of plasma
really based on supply and demand?
I ask you again:
What’s the difference
between one death and ten million?
Is it 1 and 10,000,000?
Tell me the numbers
don’t warrant a genocide.
Say the nature
isn’t systematic.
The math doesn’t
add up to a holocaust.
Not enough torture,
deportation, and rape.
Can’t try under Article 7
of the Rome Statute.
How long will lawmakers play
Genocide hide-and-seek?
They talk like children—
they suffer like grownups.
What else can we do?
No matter where we are,
we carry pieces of you:

“On my desk is a gift,
a handful of soil on a plate
from the fields of my fatherland.
The giver thought he gave his heart,
but didn’t know he was offering
the hearts of his forefathers as well.”

Mapmakers today never
give us much time,
but there’s still enough
soil to give every
denier a handful—
make them see its color;
they demand historical proof …
… we’ll hand them physical evidence.
Our heart is an immigrant
transplanted from its body.
We’ve built churches
in all parts of the world,
saved some back home,
died in foreign wars,
and enriched other cultures.
We’ve become Arméniens de France,
Armenian Americans, Armeense Nederlanders,
Российские Армяне, Αρμένιοι της Κύπρου,
Schweizerische Armenier, armênio-brasileiros,
 
We’ll thank the noble,
while never forgetting
our հայկական ժառանգությունը.

We’re not the prism of diaspora—
merely light going in as one nation,
and leaving as new rays.
Enemies bring defeat,
yet the language won’t fall—
reshaped by the wind’s
voice that sings
it across the world.
We’re violins crafted back home,
yet the bows that touch
us have distinct strands of hair.
Abroad, our homes search for home—
too often like sharps and flats needing
space between B and C, or E and F.

Our background can’t meet
us head-on as we walk away
from it on one-way streets;
we can gaze back and hope
our past is able to follow
at the speed we’re retreating.
Many return to the homeland as tourists—
no longer able to grasp
their first culture;
some leave full of fire,
eager to return—
only as anthropologists;
others come back let down—
they must bury memories
that haven’t died recently.
Paron Diaspora is a paper
from the old country
gone out of print.
He remembers his land
like headlines without dates.
Paron Diaspora is a sculptor
who’s cast as the outcast.
Paron Diaspora opens his
restaurants on big streets,
but the taste is too distant for locals.
Paron Diaspora walks around towns,
praising his land’s greatness—
all in perfect accent—
sometimes Southern, sometimes Boston,
sometimes Midwestern, sometimes New York.
Worry not, Daniel,
about the heart of the race;
we need unique paths
to build more roads home.
Paron Diaspora won’t forget you.
When pens won’t write,
our voice will compose;
if voices shall fail,
great minds will change key.
Enemies count on human
memory’s limits.
They say: When survivors die,
the need to remember their pain
will perish as well.
We say: We’ve buried their bodies,
but not their words.
They say: When the new
generation comes,
they’ll forgive a bit more.
We say: We’ll keep yelling in front
of the house where denial tries to sleep.
They say: When that generation goes,
it’ll be quiet—we can sleep,
at last, without guilt.
We say: Poets will turn
our shouts into songs, then whisper
them to kids falling asleep.

Remembrance is a fortress
that has never fallen.
These are my memories:
Great-grandfather,
David Davtyan, with his family.
There were 62 relatives
trying to escape.
Only 4 survived—
one of them his father, Mirijan.


(My great-great grandfather, Mirijan, in 1959. He escaped conscription into the Ottoman Army, which, during the genocide, had less to do with military service for Armenians, and more to do with the removal of able-bodied men from that population. His first wife, Rebecca, died in Iraq on a death march. He eventually ended up in Bulgaria, where the previous photo of my great-grandfather and his family was taken.)

Destroying people’s bodies
is genocide’s flesh and blood—
wrecking their past
is its very soul.
When the sharpening stone
of our past has worn out,
we’ll go to its gravestone—
dig up the echoes.
Denial has weapons?
Good. They only fire backwards.
We hear your voice:

“And I sang: ‘fight to the end.’
My pen is a burnt cigar—
an offering for you;
be brave, Armenian warriors—
I sang revenge and my voice blew
the ashes of my odes your way.”

We’ll write
the work you never
could start.
No bard can die
if one elegist
remains to keep him alive.
The writer’s time moves straight.
Though he walks to the end,
his life is a clock turned
by the hands of his readers.
Shivers, The Heart of the Race,
Pagan Songs, The Song of the Bread

we have all your books;
they won’t be lost now.
I can see your face only
on the pages,
but your voice
is all around me:

“Be naked like the poet’s mood,
for the pagan is suffering
in your unconscious,
and he won’t hurt you.”

Our bards can
witness without seeing,
hear without listening,
feel without touching,
smell without breathing,
and try without eating.
Let the denier say he can’t taste
our bitterness … time
has taken its flavor—
we’ll grant him a dog’s tongue;
let the denier say he can’t smell
our blood … the desert
has dried it—
we’ll grant him a wolf’s nose;
let the denier say he can’t feel
our pain … our children’s
skin is young and has healed—
we’ll grant him a shaman’s hands;
let the denier say he can’t hear
our cries … the wind
has taken and lost them—
we’ll grant him a cat’s ears;
let the denier say he can’t see
our past … the nights of time
have made it obscure;
we’ll grant him owl eyes;
let the denier say he can’t understand
why we speak to the dead—
we’ll grant him the eyes of a psychic.
We’re still with you:

“Tomorrow come to my grave;
as bread, I’ll place my poet’s
heart into your bag.
So long as your grief lives,
my poet’s heart will be your blood,
and the blood of your orphans.
Hungry One, come to the graveyard tomorrow!”

Perhaps I should ask again.
What are you asking
for a poet’s blood?
What’s the value if it can feed
a whole nation?
The strongest weapon
is a question no one can answer.
I’ll wield it even after
finishing this poem.
They want history?
We’ll give them poetry from the past.

They want to count the bodies?
We’ll give them a thousand abacuses
made from the victims’ bones.

Do I insult Turkishness
if I ask them to read our red poetry?
Let history decide.
Do I insult Turkishness
if I present them with those abacuses
and ask them to count the bodies?
Let history decide.

They want the past?
We want it too.
They want to juggle insults?
We’ll laugh at their circus.
They have Article 301?
We have Article 302—
“Yesterday’s Future.”
Are we to blame?
We offer to accept
the apology,
but they refuse to give it.
We can mend things—
tomorrow, even—
if they just hint
at the chance.
Still, they want to keep looking back;
they’re obsessed with the past;
they want history.
If they like it so much,
we should hand it to them:

“They have drawn from the fields the male population and thereby destroyed their agricultural communities. They have annihilated or displaced at least two thirds of the Armenian population and thereby deprived themselves of a very intelligent and useful race.”
—Henry Morgenthau writing to Robert Lansing, November 4, 1915, Constantinople, received by Mr. Lansing on December 1st
Morgenthau’s quote was obtained from the Office of the Historian, which is an office of the United States Department of State within the Bureau of Public Affairs, and it’s responsible for preparing and publishing the official historical documentary record of U.S. foreign policy.

“The dead from this wholesale attempt on the race are variously estimated from 500,000 to more than a million, the usual figure being about 800,000. Driven on foot under a fierce summer sun, robbed of their clothing and such petty articles as they carried, prodded by bayonet if they lagged; starvation, typhus, and dysentery left thousands dead by the trail side. The ration was a pound of bread every alternate day, which many did not receive, and later a small daily sprinkling of meal on the palm of the outstretched hand was the only food. Many perished from thirst or were killed as they attempted to slake thirst at the crossing of running streams.”
—U.S. Army Lieutenant General James Guthrie Harbord
General Harbord’s report comes from the U.S. Department of State Archives, presented by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge on April 13, 1920, and printed a week later by the Washington Government Printing Office.

“Any doubt that may have been expressed in previous reports as to the Government’s intentions in sending away the Armenians have been removed and any hope that may have been expressed as to the possibility of some of them surviving have been destroyed. It has been no secret that the plan was to destroy the Armenian race as a race, but the methods used have been more cold-blooded and barbarous, if not more effective, than I had first supposed.”
—Leslie A. Davis, American Consul in Harput
The consul’s testimony appears in the U.S. National Archives, doc. NA/RG59/867.4016/269

“The murder of Armenians has become almost a sport, and one Turkish lady passing one of these caravans, and thinking she too would relish killing an Armenian, on the guards’ invitation took out a revolver and shot the first poor wretch she saw. The whole policy of extermination transcends one’s capacity for indignation. It has been systematic in its atrocious cruelty, even to the extent of throwing blame for the murders on the Kurds, who are instigated by the Government to lie in wait in order to kill and pillage. Its horrors would be unbelievable if less universally attested. For scientific cruelty and butchery it remains without precedent. The Turks have willfully destroyed the great source of economic wealth in their country. The persecution is madness, but one wonders when the day will come, and if it is close enough at hand still to save the few remnants of this wretched community.”
—Lewis Einstein, American Chargé d’Affaires in Constantinople
The diplomat’s account is taken from his book, Inside Constantinople: A Diplomatist’s Diary During the Dardanelles Expedition, April–September, 1915, published in 1918.

“Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it—and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples—the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”
—U.S. President Ronald Reagan, April 22, 1981
The president’s statement was taken from the official website of the Reagan Library, and was given during Proclamation 4838 – Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust.

“Today we recall in sorrow the million and one-half Armenians who were tortured, starved, and butchered to death in the First Genocide of the Twentieth Century.”
—Monroe Freedman, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council Director
The director’s statement was also taken from the official website of the Reagan Library, and it comes from a speech given on April 24, 1980.

History, history, history.
Why do we need it?
Why do we care when
we want new stories?
Our past is all over—
it’s there for all to see.
There’s no harm in forgetting old news.
Look. You can find the records.
Deniers have lost the battle for yesterday—
now they’re fighting
to take our tomorrow.
The living grow older—
the dead maintain eternal youth.
We’re not afraid of antiquity;
the artists they hung
are younger than ever.
the pregnant women they killed
keep waiting to give birth;
the children they left in the desert
remain children—
still looking for water;
the Armenianness they stepped on,
has come back—
like desert sands
that settle after a storm.
The future is all we have—
it’s a white crane
that watches from above;
when its time has come,
the feathers carrying our past
will fall from the sky,
reminding those after us
we were here;
you must’ve known this happiness
with the birth of your children,
and I shall end my poem on it.

 

***************************************************************************

Everywhere Armenian Providence

Daniel Varoujan was 31
when he was killed.
31 years isn’t a long life,
but it’s a long time
to write poetry.

***************************************************************************

A Tribute to Franz Werfel and Vasily Grossman

“This book was conceived in March of the year 1929, during the course of a stay in Damascus. The miserable sight of maimed and famished-looking refugee children, working in a carpet factory, gave me the final impulse to snatch the incomprehensible destiny of the Armenian people from the Hell of all that had taken place.”
—Franz Werfel, preface to The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933)

(Franz Werfel with representatives of the French-Armenian community)

 

“Never in my life have I bowed to the ground; I have never prostrated before anyone. Now, however, I bow to the ground before the Armenian peasants who, during the merriment of a village wedding, spoke publicly about the agony of the Jewish nation under Hitler, about the death camps where Nazis murdered Jewish women and children. I bow to everyone who, silently, sadly, and solemnly, listened to these speeches.”
—Vasily Grossman, An Armenian Sketchbook (1962)

(Vasily Grossman, second from the right, with villagers from Tsakhkadzor in 1961)

***************************************************************************

Links to the Articles

“Geoffrey Robertson puts the case against Turkey for 1915 Armenian genocide”
Louis Nowra (JANUARY 3, 2015)

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/geoffrey-robertson-puts-the-case-against-turkey-for-1915-armenian-genocide/news-story/282b552190b96a4a5a17bf38d447af57

“Britain accused of ‘genocide denial’ over Armenia”
David Leigh (NOVEMBER 3, 2009)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/nov/03/armenia-genocide-denial-britain

“Internal Documents Reveal UK Officials Misled Parliament on Armenian Genocide”
Harut Sassounian (MARCH 18, 2010)

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/harut-sassounian/internal-documents-reveal_b_344794.html

“It’s pure sophistry that stops Britain recognising the Armenian genocide”
Alex Dudok de Wit (APRIL 23, 2015)

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/its-pure-sophistry-that-stops-britain-recognising-the-armenian-genocide-10199118.html

***************************************************************************

Thank you to my brother, Arthur Ovanesian, for suggesting key edits and providing the idea for the epilogue.

 

 

About David Garyan

David Garyan has published three chapbooks with Main Street Rag, along with (DISS)INFORMATION, a full collection with the same publisher. He holds an MA and MFA from Cal State Long Beach, where he associated himself with the Stand Up Poets. He received a master’s degree in International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage from the University of Bologna. He lives in Trento.

David Garyan’s Visual Poem “Italianarsi” Translated into Italian by Emilia (@the.misfit.polyglot)

David Garyan’s Poem “Italianarsi” Translated into Italian by Emilia (@the.misfit.polyglot)

March 23rd, 2023

 

Thank you so much to Emilia (@the.misfit.polyglot) for translating!

 

Original English Text

Italianarsi

Walk slow.
Talk fast.

Drive fast.
Live slow.

With great people.
With bad bureaucracy.

Be true—
honesty is key.
Make good impressions—
bella figura must agree.

You’re late?
We’re flexible.
Cappuccinos after lunch?
You must not be Italian!

You make mistakes?
We forgive them.
Chicken on pasta?
Beyond redemption.

Be relaxed. Be informal …
… titles, status, and age
are vital.

On buses,
the young give
their seats to the old.
In life, they leave
Italy to find jobs.

Italians are masters of romance.
Birth rates are declining.

Italians are all about family.
Europe’s lowest marriage rate is in Italy.

Be kind—say permesso
when you must pass.
Be passive—form queues
however you want.

Improvise and innovate.
But don’t change tradition.

Don’t leave the house
with wet hair—
colpo d’aria,
but smoking …
… even near your kids,
is okay.

We’re open
and curious about you.
Best not bring foreign food
to our dinners.

Drink in moderation.
Don’t share your pizza.

Never break spaghetti,
even if no one’s looking.
If you see no cars,
cross on red,
and don’t stop
at stop signs—
some laws are meant
to be broken.

Italians are gentle,
Italians are kind—
Italians have the harshest
prisons in Europe (41-bis).

Drivers
have no time
letting people cross.
People
have much time
staring at strangers.

Homes are very clean,
locals well-dressed—
you’ll often see both
on neglected streets.

There’s campanilismo—
pride for one’s town—
yet dialects are dying …
… it’s discouraged to speak them.

If you come to Italy,
you’ll love it right away,
but, in the end,
love is always hard.

About David Garyan

David Garyan has published three chapbooks with Main Street Rag, along with (DISS)INFORMATION, a full collection with the same publisher. He holds an MA and MFA from Cal State Long Beach, where he associated himself with the Stand Up Poets. He received a master’s degree in International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage from the University of Bologna. He lives in Trento.

University of Bologna Student, Paul Azemata Amune, Publishes Paper in Global Studies

 

University of Bologna Student, Paul Azemata Amune, Publishes Paper in Global Studies

 

Populism and the Rise of Xenophobia among Italians toward Immigrants

 

Abstract

Over the years, like other parts of the European Union, Italy has experienced a sharp increase in the number of immigrants entering its territory. Immigration becomes a keenly contested topic. This paper focuses on understanding people’s genuine real-world concerns by briefly identifying three specific areas that could logically explain how Italians perceive immigration. They include security, identity, and jobs. The far-right populist politicians and the media have exploited these concerns as they continue to fan the flames of fear. This has consequentially led to several incidents of intolerance meted out to immigrants and other minority groups such as Muslims and the Roma community creating an atmosphere where these minority groups are perceived and treated as intruders. Empirical data have shown that immigrants contribute to the economic growth of Italy. They also show that immigration does not increase the crime rate and likewise does not pose a threat to the social fabric. Multiculturalism beyond integration is proposed in this paper to enhance the peaceful co-existence between the minority groups and the Italians.

 

Excerpt

In the wake of an Italian government coalition in 2018 between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League saw the rise in violent attacks of foreigners. An anti-racist organization, Lunaria quarterly report, captures the number of racially motivated attacks against foreigners. The report states that the violence against immigrants has risen sharply in Italy, tripling between 2017 and 2018. It counted 126 physical attacks, particularly on migrants in 2018. It previously recorded twenty-seven racially motivated attacks in 2016 and forty-six in 2017 (Tondo 2019). Tondo (2019) noted that in the first two months of Matteo Salvini, (former Interior Minister well known for his anti-immigration rhetoric) entry into government, Lunaria 2018 figures recorded twelve shootings, two murders and thirty-three physical assaults against migrants. There was an instance that occurred shortly after the government instalment in 2018, involving Soumayla Sacko, an agricultural worker and a trade unionist from Mali, he was shot and killed in the southern Italian municipality of San Calogero (Robertson 2018). His death triggered a mass protest in Milan, in which protesters recited anti-racist slogans and posters read “Lega e Salvini assassini” (The League and Salvini are murderers).