It really says something about the quality of our detainees in Guantanamo, that they have written poems in Arabic on fragments of styrofoam cups.
But, apparently, too much poetry has been written at Guantanamo-- compromising our national security-- and much of it has been censored or destroyed. However, a collection of the remnants of these cup poems is to be published by the University of Iowa...
An excerpt from Leonard Doyle's piece in Common Dreams, originally published in The Independent/UK, and which also includes several of the poems:
Perhaps the real security issue is the safety of those who have been or are currently in Guantanamo.
The words of the celebrated Pakistani poet were scratched on the sides of a Styrofoam cup with a pebble. Then, under the eyes of Guantanamo Bay’s prison guards, they were secretly passed from cell to cell. When the guards discovered what was going on, they smashed the containers and threw them away, fearing that it was a way of passing coded messages.
There are other tragic tales behind the verses. The “cup poems” of Guantanamo speak of the strange absence of flowers in spring, the bangles worn by young women and handcuffs on the militants.
Fragments survived in the memory of the poet Shaikh Abdurraheem Muslim Dost after his eventual release, but thousands of lines of poetry he wrote in prison have disappeared.
Dost, a respected religious scholar, poet, and journalist - and author of nearly 20 books - until his arrest in 2001, spent nearly three years in Guantanamo with his brother. Sent home two years ago, the brothers were picked up by Pakistani intelligence and they too disappeared. Nothing has been heard of them since.
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William Carlos Williams wrote... words that are apropos of almost any moment in these times:
“It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably
for lack of what is found there.”
A h/t to Dave Pollard at How to Save the World, for his post with the link to this story...