Archive for Writers Resist

Nevertheless, She Persisted

by Sara Stamey

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” Mitch McConnell said after invoking an obscure, antiquated rule to silence Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor.

“Bullshit!” I responded when I heard what he’d done. I was angry, and taking it personally. Then I asked myself why, and realized that it WAS personal—to all women and girls. This is what I grew up hearing:

“Be nice, be ladylike. Don’t talk back.”

“You’re being impudent.”

If I spoke up against unfairness, I was punished, and I learned to silence myself, like so many women around the world. It was a long road for me before I realized that the persistence of the old “power-over” models, perpetuated by patriarchy (our dysfunctional U.S. Congress, anyone?), depends on silencing powerful and thus threatening-to-the-old-order women. Why has my right-wing father hated and excoriated Hillary Clinton since her First Lady days?

My Resistance to tyrannical authority began with the stories and novels I write, in which plucky women freely speak their minds despite the dangers of doing so. In my early science fiction novel Wild Card Run, a young woman escapes her abusive stepfather and repressive homeworld in which women are required to stay in the home and denied the freedoms given to men. She lands on an anything-goes asteroid called Casino, only to discover that even there her outspokenness may result in punishment with the “Steps of Healing,” which would erase her memories and rebellious personality. She would literally be silenced.

I considered the novel allegorical, not literal, in regard to women’s rights. During my youth, the feminist movement had made great strides in gaining rights for women, and I had worked among men in industry. Of course, I had to go through hazing and working harder than the men to “earn” my right to be accepted on the work crews, but I prided myself on being tough and able to take it.

Then I moved to fairly remote Southern Chile, where my former husband and I had bought land to start a farm. I was startled to realize that in this rural area, women stayed in the home while men had the freedom to go out partying and do what they wished. I was never addressed by my name, but was merely “la senora,” an attachment of my husband. A Chilean woman needed her husband’s permission to open a bank account or do many of the things I had taken for granted in the States.

We started building a house, hiring local workers to help with various tasks. When my husband fell ill with a lingering malady, I had to take up the reins to finish the house, and I discovered that the workmen would not take instructions from me, a mere woman. I had to get my husband out of bed and prop him up in the doorway, where he could repeat my instructions. When the house was finished, we planned a traditional “roof raising” celebration with the local families and issued invitations. Only the men attended, as the women were not allowed to come.

In Santiago and other South American cities, where the culture is more progressive, women engage in business and enjoy much more freedom, though still limited by restrictive laws. Even they must watch their step in the more “traditional” communities, as a Chilean friend told me. She and her husband had a summer cottage near our land, and she reported that when she had asserted her authority to instruct a male worker on their boat, he had deliberately tried to injure her with a dangerous “accident.”

In my travels around the world, I have seen that the ancient angers and fears of women still prevail in many cultures, where horrors such as stoning and mutilation persist. But I had thought we were moving past those in the U.S., especially during the Obama administration, with its embracing of women, minorities, all genders and lifestyles. The harsh reality of the oppressive new administration has been a slap in the face to so many of us, including the strong women in Congress.

When I learned of the silencing of Elizabeth Warren—temporary, thanks to her power and persistence—I realized that Resistance must move beyond storytelling, as vital as it is to our culture and community soul. I am making the effort to speak out personally and confront the outmoded, oppressive social model that the current regime is seeking to reinstate. I’m arming myself with facts to counter people who spout “alternative facts” that support the new tyranny in our country. I hope I will have the courage to take physical action if necessary to hold the line and protect our civil rights.

I recommend a short, pithy book, On Tyranny, by Dr. Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University. An expert on the Holocaust and recent European history, Snyder lays out clear parallels between the regimes of Hitler, Stalin, Putin, and others, and the tactics of so-called president as orchestrated by neo-Nazi advisor Steve Bannon. Snyder suggests ways to recognize and oppose efforts to erode our rights, especially vital to women and minorities.

So I join the groundswell and raise my voice against the many forms of tyranny, overt and insidious: “Resist!”

Author’s Bio: 

Award-winning novelist Sara Stamey’s journeys include treasure hunting and teaching scuba in the Caribbean, backpacking worldwide, operating a nuclear reactor, and owning a farm in Southern Chile. She taught creative writing at Western Washington University and shares her creekside land with wild creatures and her cats, dog, and paleontologist husband Thor Hansen.

Sara’s science fiction novels with Berkley/Ace received praise from Publishers Weekly and made the Locus Best New Novelists list. Her Caribbean psychic suspense novel ISLANDS—“A stomping, vivid ride” (Statesman Review)—won the Chanticleer Paranormal Suspense Award and Hollywood Book Festival Genre Award. Her near-future Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION won the Cygnus Award for speculative fiction. “A rocket-paced thrill ride that delivers complex, engaging characters in a laser-sharp plot.”   (Chanticleer Reviews) www.sarastamey.com

Sara’s story “Reset” is included in the multi-genre collection Nevertheless, She Persisted, to be released August 8 by Book View Café publishing.

Here is the Amazon pre-order link for Nevertheless She Persisted

Sara’s Amazon author page  

Burn ~ Part 1 Investigation

by Nancy Grayum

We got burned. But as I simmer over the dismantling of the EPA, the outrageous bloating of a so-called “Defense” budget, the construction of pipelines, rolling of coal and oil trains and the fracking for natural gas, I also initiate an investigation of the contradictions in today’s energy culture and in my own way of living. I can resist more effectively if I am mindful.

Natural gas for our home averages a very reasonable $30 a month for on-demand hot water and the gas fireplace that, with the flick of a switch, heats most of our small house. The gas main runs under our street about 30 feet from the front door, where, gazing at snowfall last winter, I became wide-eyed-curious for the first time about where the gas in that pipe was extracted or how, and what route it followed as it moved to our home.

A geologist friend says our gas most likely comes from fracking the tar sands in western Alberta, British Columbia and Montana. With the methane leaks in drilling for it, the power needed to liquefy it and the carbon emissions from burning it, natural gas is a disaster for the climate. Fracking damages and pollutes water tables and causes earthquakes. Puget Sound Energy derives 24% of our electrical supply from natural gas generating plants and they plan to build more on the tideflats in Tacoma. Are there other energy sources we blindly enjoy without scrutinizing the actual cost?

Coal-fired electrical generation is being phased out in Washington since we passed a law in 2011 that will eliminate it by 2025. However, 35% of Puget Sound Energy electricity is generated at a coal plant in eastern Montana. Ironically, our bounty of coastal ports attracts fossil fuel companies’ desire for shipping facilities in order to reap profit from overseas markets. Lummi Nation provides a superb example of protection and resistance by holding fast to their 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott rights.

Hydroelectric power is the highest ranking source of electricity in the state, at 36%. As a young girl I rowed a little boat on the reservoir behind Merwin dam on the Lewis River, heartbroken to see the black ghosts of huge trees rooted and motionless beneath the deep, clear water. With construction of our 47 hydroelectric dams across nearly 20 of our major rivers, the new reservoirs permanently destroyed habitats for thousands of species, and the salmon journey through fish-ladders became a lame excuse for the vibrant rapids and life cycles of their past.

Oil is not extracted in Washington State, but refineries have a huge footprint along our coastlines, no matter how they try to hide behind tree buffers, wage statistics or best practices. Trains with hundreds of oil cars pass through every community with a track. Tank ships, with their engines idling in port 24/7, fill up with refined product and chug away, risking our fragile and beloved Salish Sea.

Electricity derived from wind, solar or bio-gas is minimal–just four percent–in our green state. We support it by paying higher fees to PSE. This doesn’t mean our homes are singled out to use only green energy, but we become sponsors for the addition of green power to the grid. I just barely believe this; after all, PSE, while once a public utility, is now held by foreign private investors and stockholders.

We’ve never trusted nuclear power plants because we’ve seen the damage. As a result of Japan’s tsunami catastrophe, we fret about our wild Alaska salmon. Instead of asking a chef, “Is it farmed or is it wild?” we now grimly joke, “Is it farmed or Fukishima?” We’ve very effectively resisted nuclear power plants: just 1% of PSE power is generated at Hanford.

Most Washingtonians who are fortunate and comfortable are agitated about forthcoming disaster, if not from spills or explosions then from the sense of walking over hot coals to stay economically safe. Messaging by fossil fuel corporations imprints and drives our culture, keeping people confused, polarized and in the dark. Ads, fake news, blatant lies and distraction succeed in the election of greedy con-artists and financiers to the seats of power. It’s not new. Our comfort has a high price, it’s just more obvious now than in recent years.

For me, resistance takes the form of paying attention to these greedy ones and trying not to get hooked into their game. Call me passive-aggressive: I withhold.

 

In this two-part post, Nancy withholds, so check back in a week to read about resistance by progressive refusal.

Aleppo

The smell of laurel and olive trees is impregnated in my skin. The scent is integrated and meshed with generations of my family. It was my great grandfather Elias, who had the original idea of planting laurel and olive trees on the small piece of land that he inherited from his father. Elias planted ten olive trees and one laurel whenever a child was born. When my grandfather Adnan inherited the land he went around asking his friends and neighbors what they would do with them. There were many suggestions and one night he came up with the idea of making soap. The soap of Aleppo is famous worldwide. Adnan and then my parents continued the tradition of planting olive and laurel trees every time a child was born, so now we have many trees. Before the war we had a successful soap making business.

When I was a little boy I would spend my days running in between the trees, as I got older I began to help with the recollection of olives, which was very hard work. But it was fun too, the whole family worked together. The women began cooking the day before, making baba ghanoush, kibbeh and, tabbouleh. The men and younger adults did the physical work. The grandmothers helped with the little ones. There was a job for everyone and within a few weeks it was all done.

One day I was running with my friend Ahmed. We were racing through some buildings that had been bombed the month before. Suddenly I heard the plane and before I could yell to Ahmed there was an absence of sound, as if all the noise in the city had been pulled into a vacuum and then the sound was deafening and I was thrown to the ground by a violent shock wave. I must have fainted. When I awoke, I did not recognize my surroundings. It was full of dust, debris, there was dirt in my mouth, my lips were dry, and my body and my eyes hurt. I tried to get up, but fell down. When I finally stood up, I began calling for Ahmed, but he did not answer. My heart began to beat faster, I felt sweat on my hands and began to push things around. But I knew that he would not be alive.

After that day I did not go out on my own again. I trembled when I heard the planes. I woke up yelling at night, calling for Ahmed, until my mother would come and touch my hair, shushing me.

“Why Mama, why Mama?”

“I don’t’ know. It is God’s will,” Kamar answered. I did not like this God that took so much and gave so little.

One day I asked my grandpa, why he had not wanted to leave.

“A country’s strength is in its people. If it’s people leave, it weakens it. I will not abandon my land. I believe there will be peace in Syria, soon. I want to be there when it happens”. My parents had offers to leave to France, but after many discussions, they finally agreed they could not leave my grandpa alone.

We watched our friends and neighbors flee, some died and some joined one or the other side. The Americans, the Russians and the Europeans bombed us. They say they want our oil. I just hope my grandpa will see peace. His parents planted the olive and laurel trees and he began the Aleppo Soap Company. We have been closed for six years, but next year we plan to reopen in hopes that the civil war in Syria will be over.

I’m just a little boy, but I heard and saw the bombs fall on my city. I know the smell of burning skin and the piercing sound of humans in their last scream. I’m just a little boy who has seen too much.

 

Karuna Tzadi Arnold began writing in Ibiza, Spain, when she was nine years old. Since then she has written in many different countries and currently lives in a small village in Extremadura, Spain, with her husband Lorenzo and their twin 3 year old boys, Miles and Rio. She enjoys her morning walks in nature and inventing stories for her children.

She looks forward to her boys beginning school in September, so she can have more time for her different writing projects; a couple children’s books, a blog and working on an historical novel “Rosannah”, which takes place in the 1770’s in Pennsylvania and in Wales. She also enjoys writing in Spanish and has spent this year entering writing competitions in Spain and South America. In January two of her short stories “Otra Etapa” and “Blind George,” were published on an online journal www.escritores-en-red.es

 

 

 

RX FOR AN ATTITUDE OF LASSITUDE: POETRY

 

RX for an Attitude of Lassitude: Poetry

 

Poetry is more necessary than ever as a fire to light our tongues. 
-Naomi Shihab Nye,

from Salting the Ocean

 

Don’t know about you, but since November I’ve been surfing salty, stinging waves of weariness and mostly wiping out. Sometimes, while reading a short story or novel or memoir I’ll keep going over and over the same paragraph without understanding a single word because, blinded by politically-induced brainfog, I’ve crashed against distracting rocks of uncertainty. Has this happened to you, dear reader/writer/poet, as well?

When his ship first came to Australia

Cook wrote, the natives

continued fishing, without looking up.

Unable, it seems, to fear what was too large to be comprehended.

-Jane Hirshfield

Global Warming

The good news is that poetry seems to help. A lot. Rosa Inocencio Smith wrote recently in The Atlantic, “There is something comforting in reading a poem and seeing your fears, irrationalities, questionable choices, anxieties, reflected—seeing a poet articulate what you thought was inexpressible, and in that invaluable moment feeling a little less alone.”

there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.

-Charles Bukowski

from “The Laughing Heart

Whether reading or writing, poetry can be a portal out of our cave of confusion and into the brighter light of a fresh outlook. An engaging poem may re-energize us or even change us in astonishing ways for life. Through the practices of reading and writing poetry we may come to know our authentic voice and those of other poets. Poeming relieves life’s daily turbulences, comforts and inspires us and, in turn, we can do that for others. Poetry may also support political change and, as Mark Heywood has written in “2017, First Thoughts: Towards a Government of Poets,” poetry may even be “… a badly neglected branch of politics.”

As we reflect & pray & and meditate on their brutal deaths

Let us celebrate those who marched at night and spoke of peace

& chanted Black Lives Matter

-Juan Felipe Herrera

from “@ the Crossroads-a Sudden American Poem

William Stafford wrote, “Everyone is born a poet – a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is: Why did other people stop?”

The border is a line that birds cannot see.

-Alberto Ríos

from “The Border: A Double Sonnet

In our town many folks didn’t stop. We are a large-for-a-small-town, active community of poets, and growing. National and world chaos is clearly a catalyst for birthing poets and poems. Here, poets gather to send their powerful words out into the world at open mics: Laurel Leigh’s at Village Books, Chuckanut Sandstone at the Colophon Café, Creekside out in Sudden Valley, Poetrynight at the Central Library, to name a few.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

-Maya Angelou

from “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

We’re so fortunate to have special events, like Luther Allen and Judy Kleinberg’s SpeakEasy for which local poets most recently performed “Poems of Darkness, Poems of Light,” reflecting both the challenges and enlightening moments of these troubled times. And World Peace Poets, who sponsored a month of sending out Peace Poetry Postcards this February, published Peace Poems, Volume Two in April, and provide Peace Poetry and other workshops throughout the year.

To float like a cloud

you have to go to the trouble

of becoming one.

– Robert Genn

from “The Twice-Weekly Letters”

As if that isn’t enough, twice each year Clover: A Literary Rag is published by Independent Writers Studio, featuring work by both local and international poets. And if you’re a competitive type, try your pen at Sue C. Boynton’s Poetry Contest each March, and the Whatcom Writes contest in the fall. Or, shoot for displaying your poem in the new Poem Booth downtown. All of these activities celebrate the importance of poetry in our destabilized lives, but there is one more that never fails to engage the four chambers of my raging heart.

What can I do?

I have to take care of it.

The famished spirit eats fire, poetry, and rain; it only wants love.

-Joy Harjo

from “Everybody Has a Heartache: A Blues

Every year, I can’t wait until April when National Poetry Writing Month, NaPoWriMo, comes around. Several of us in Red Wheelbarrow Writers have participated over the years and find it challenging, but also delightful and rewarding. We write a poem each day for the thirty days of the the month, and by the end of the month we not only have a sweet collection of poems, but the lobus poeticus in our brains is fairly glowing. Something about daily writing frees poets, encourages us to experiment and open up to possibilities we didn’t know existed. It brings a sense of hope for change as we release our voices out into the world. We feel heard. And in being heard, I believe we come to see poetry as an archipeligo of small islands on which we can rest. And so can you, dear reader/writer/poet, in this churning sea of craziness, without drowning.

Friday afternoon and I’m wheelin’ the Subaru past

the corner of Cornwall and Magnolia, honkin’ at a guy

holdin’ a Black Lives Matter sign, showin’ support,

thinkin’ I oughta be out there, too, with my rainbow

striped Peace Be With You poster, when I notice

a clutch of crows hangin’ out on a leafless maple.

Crows don’t know nothin’ ‘bout politics.

-Susan Chase-Foster

from “Crow Bop” NaPoWriMo, 2017

 

 

Susan Chase-Foster writes poetry and prose fueled by sweltering Mexican beaches, terrifying Taiwanese typhoons, Alaskan mosquitoes the size of condors, and rampant planetary distress. She is a two-time Walk Winner of the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and is delighted that her work has appeared in Clover: a Literary Rag, Cirque, Peace Poems, Noisy Water, Whatcom Writes anthologies, and Red Wheelbarrow Writers’own Memory into Memoir. Currently, Susan is working with her son on a collection of poems and photographs from Taiwan, and is in temporary remission from blogitis at https://stilllifewithtortillas.com/.