July 19, 2007
Poetry By The Detainees Of Guantanamo Bay Finds Its Way To America
The University of Iowa Press has responded to international interest in "Poems from Guantanamo," an anthology of poetry written by detainees imprisoned at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, by moving its publication date from Aug. 15 to Aug. 1.
"Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak," edited by Marc Falkoff, is available directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at http://www.uiowapress.org, and is also available from bookstores and online retailers. In the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa, contact Eurospan by phone, +44 (0) 1767 604972, by fax +44 (0) 1767 601640, or online at http://www.eurospanonline.com/eurospan/index.asp.
The impending release of the book has been covered internationally in wire service news, feature stories, and opinions in print and on the Web.
Since 2002, at least 775 men have been held in the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. According to Department of Defense data, fewer than half of them are accused of committing any hostile act against the United States or its allies. In hundreds of cases, even the circumstances of their initial detainment are in question.
This collection gives voice to the men held at Guantanamo. Available only because of the efforts of pro bono attorneys who submitted each line to Pentagon scrutiny, "Poems from Guantanamo" brings together 22 poems by 17 detainees, most still at Guantanamo in legal limbo. The Defense Department prohibited the publication of many other poems.
Falkoff is an assistant professor at the Northern Illinois University College of Law and attorney for 17 Guantanamo prisoners. Flagg Miller, a linguistic and cultural anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, wrote the book's preface, and an afterword was contributed by Ariel Dorfman, a Chilean-American poet, novelist, playwright and human rights activist who holds the Walter Hines Page Chair of Literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University.
Portions of Dorfman's afterword were published in June in one of Britian's leading newspapers, the Independent: http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article2686788.ece.
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky wrote, "Poetry, art of the human voice, helps turn us toward what we should or must not ignore. Speaking as they can across barriers actual and figurative, translated into our American tongue, these voices in confinement implicitly call us to our principles and to our humanity. They deserve, above all, not admiration or belief or sympathy -- but attention. Attention to them is urgent for us."
And Adrienne Rich commented, "'Poems from Guantanamo' brings to light figures of concrete, individual humanity, against the fabric of cruelty woven by the 'war on terror.' The poems and poets' biographies reveal one dimension of this officially obscured narrative, from the perspective of the sufferers; the legal and literary essays provide the context which has produced -- under atrocious circumstances -- a poetics of human dignity."
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