Meanderings & mawqifs of poetry, poetics, translations y mas. Travelogue too.

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June 29th, 2015 · Arab Culture, Arabic, Language, Maghreb

Morocco’s “National Coalition for Arabic” is reportedly up in arms over a Ramadan sitcom it says “mocks the Arabic language”; a government minister says speaking formal Arabic causes her “a fever”; a recent report suggests teaching Darija, or Moroccan Arabic, in early primary:

keep-calm-and-love-darija-2An ordinary summer in the struggle over language in Morocco.

Darija* (the language that’s doing the mocking) and Standard Arabic (the language being mocked) are just two of the players in a landscape that also includes French, English, and Tamazight. French and Standard Arabic seem to be associated more with older generations, with English and Darija, or “Moroccan colloquial,” for the young. The language war is also, it seems, a culture war, with the blog“The View from Fez,” quoting a “critic” who suggests “if we speak Standard Arabic we will end up like the Saudis!”

For poets and novelists, these are certainly not small decisions. Most prominent and award-winning Moroccan writers who work in an Arabic continue to write in the standard literary form. Globally celebrated Bensalem Himmich and Mohammed Bennis write in standard Arabic, as does International Prize for Arabic Fiction winner Mohammed Achaari. The prominent Moroccan authors who don’t write in standard Arabic generally write in French. Fewer write in English,  Dutch, or Tamazight. And while there are novels and poetry collections in Darija, there are perhaps no authors who write solely in the langauge.

But as Alexander Elinson wrote in “Darija and Changing Writing Practices in Morocco,” the landscape is nonetheless shifting:

Beginning in the 1970s, but really taking off inthe early to mid-2000s, writing in darija has gained support as serving the practical, political, and artistic needs of a dynamic and multilingual society.

The first-ever prize for literature written in Darija was reportedly offered in 2006, followed by others. Since then, the debate has been growing hotter (or more feverish, perhaps).

Elinson quotes the highly regarded Moroccan literary critic, academic, and novelist Abdelfatteh Kilito as saying that colloquial Egyptian alienates him from a novel, but, for Moroccan literature, “colloquial Arabic . . . as a bearer of [a certain] history and geography, would allow one to recognize a Moroccan work, in Arabic or French, ancient or modern!”

Yet for himself, Kilito wrote in 2013 (trans. Kristin Gee Hickman), reading in Darija is difficult:

I speak colloquial Arabic, I read classical Arabic. My education has, indeed, accustomed me to only reading texts written in French and classical Arabic. There are certainly poems, stories, proverbs in colloquial, but they remain, for me, fundamentally, connected to orality. When I happen to read them, I have a bizarre experience: because of my lack of habit, I start deciphering them as if they were written in a foreign language. As easy as it is to speak in colloquial, reading it is equally laborious and full of obstacles.

Education usually still trumps in determining an author’s language of choice.

There is also yet no standardized orthography for Darija, and critics of its use have pointed to regionalizations, and the multiplicity of words for carrot, for instance. But a growing number of authors have staged novels in the language, with more or less success, including Youssouf Amine Elalamy, Murad ‘Alami, Driss Mesnauoi, and ‘Aziz Regragi. Graphic novels, such as Fatima’s Memories by Safia Ouarezki and Mahmoud Benameur, also create new and fertile ground for Darija.

Many proponents of a literature in Darija, such as celebrated novelist Fouad Laroui, write most of their work in French or another European language. Yet it seems Darija is growing in strength, and unlike in other places where the lament is that “Arabic is dying,” here a new sort of literary production is being born.


Elinson’s “Darija and Changing Writing Practices in Morocco”

Martin Rose’s “Bavures and shibboleths—language in Morocco

*The decision to capitalize Darija is to recognize it as a language.


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Uri Avnery on War Crimes

June 27th, 2015 · Gaza Strip, Israel, Uncategorized

gazaUri Avnery
June 27, 2015

War Crimes? Us???

“WAR IS HELL!” the US general William Tecumseh Sherman famously exclaimed.

War is the business of killing the “enemy”, in order to impose your will on them.

Therefore, “humane war” is an oxymoron.

War itself is a crime. There are few exceptions. I would exempt the war against Nazi Germany, since it was conducted against a regime of mass murderers, led by a psychopathic dictator, who could not be brought to heel by any other means.

This being so, the concept of “war crimes” is dubious. The biggest crime is starting the war in the first place. This is not the business of soldiers, but of political leaders. Yet they are rarely indicted.

THESE PHILOSOPHICAL musings came to me in the wake of the recent UN report on the last Gaza war.

The investigation committee bent over backwards to be “balanced”, and accused both the Israeli army and Hamas in almost equal terms. That, in itself, is problematic.

This was not a war between equals. On one side, the State of Israel, with one of the mightiest armies in the world. On the other side, a stateless population of 1.8 million people, led by a guerrilla organization devoid of any modern arms.

Any equating of such two entities is by definition contrived. Even if both sides committed grievous war crimes, they are not the same. Each must be judged on its own (de)merits.

THE IDEA of “war crimes” is relatively new. It arose during the 30 Years War, which devastated a large part of Central Europe. Many armies took part, and all of them destroyed towns and villages without the slightest compunction. As a result, two thirds of Germany were devastated and a third of the German people was killed.

Hugo de Groot, a Dutchman, argued that even in war, civilized nations are bound by certain limitations. He was not a starry-eyed idealist, divorced from reality. His main principle, as I understand it, was that it makes no sense to forbid actions that help a warring country [or “party”] to pursue the war, but that any cruelty not necessary for the efficient conduct of the war is illegitimate.

This idea took hold. During the 18th century, endless wars were conducted by professional armies, without hurting civilian populations unnecessarily. Wars became “humane”.

Not for long. With the French revolution, war became a matter of mass armies, the protection of civilians slowly eroded, until it disappeared entirely in World War II, when whole cities were destroyed by unlimited aerial bombardment (Dresden and Hamburg) and the atom bomb (Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Even so, a number of international conventions prohibit war crimes that target civilian populations or hurt the population in occupied territories.

That was the mandate of this committee of investigation.

THE COMMITTEE castigates Hamas for committing war crimes against the Israeli population.

Israelis didn’t need the committee to know that. A large share of Israeli citizens spent hours in shelters during the Gaza war, under the threat of Hamas rockets.

Hamas launched thousands of rockets towards towns and villages in Israel. These were primitive rockets, which could not be aimed at specific targets – like the Dimona nuclear installation or the Ministry of Defense which is located in the center of Tel Aviv. They were meant to terrorize the civilian population into demanding a stop to the attack on the Gaza strip.

They did not achieve this goal because Israel had installed a number of “Iron Dome” counter-rocket batteries, that intercepted almost all rockets heading for civilian targets. Success was almost complete.

If they are brought before the International Court in The Hague, the Hamas leaders will argue that they had no choice: they had no other weapons to oppose the Israeli invasion. As a Palestinian commander once told me: “Give us cannons and fighter planes, and we will not use terrorism.”

The International Court will then have to decide whether a people that is practically under an endless occupation is allowed to use indiscriminate rockets. Considering the principles laid down by de Groot, I wonder what the decision will be.

That goes for terrorism in general, if used by an oppressed people that has no other means of fighting. The black South Africans used terrorism in their fight against the oppressive apartheid regime, and Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in prison for taking part in such acts und refusing to condemn them.

THE CASE against the Israeli government and army is quite different. They have a plentitude of arms, from drones to warplanes to artillery to tanks.

If there was a cardinal war crime in this war, it was the cabinet decision to start it. Because an Israeli arrack on the Gaza Strip makes war crimes unavoidable.

Anyone who has ever been a combat soldier in war knows that war crimes, whether in the most moral or the most base army in the world, do occur in war. No army can avoid recruiting psychologically defective people. In every company there is at least one pathological specimen. If there are not very strict rules, exercised by very strict commanders, crimes will occur.

War brings out the inner man (or woman, nowadays). A well-behaved, educated man will suddenly turn into a ferocious beast. A simple, lowly laborer will reveal himself as a decent, generous human being. Even in the “Most Moral Army in the World” – an oxymoron if there ever was one.

I was a combat soldier in the 1948 war. I have seen an eyeful of crimes, and I have described them in my 1950 book “The Other Side of the Coin”.

THIS GOES for every army. In our army during the last Gaza war, the situation was even worse.

The reasons for the attack on the Gaza Strip were murky. Three Israeli kids were captured by Arab men, obviously for the sake of achieving a prisoner exchange. The Arabs panicked and killed the boys. The Israelis responded, the Palestinians responded, and lo – the cabinet decided on a full-fledged attack.

Our cabinet includes nincompoops, most of whom have no idea what war is. They decided to attack the Gaza Strip.

This decision was the real war crime.

The Gaza Strip is a tiny territory, overcrowded by a bloated population of 1.8 million human beings, about half of them descendents of refugees from areas that became Israel in the 1948 war.

In any circumstances, such an attack was bound to result in a large number of civilian casualties. But another fact made this even worse.

ISRAEL IS a democratic state. Leaders have to be elected by the people. The voters consist of the parents and grandparents of the soldiers, members of both regular and reserve units.

This means that Israel is inordinately sensitive to casualties. If a large number of soldiers are killed in action, the government will fall.

Therefore it is the maxim of the Israeli army to avoid casualties at any cost – any cost to the enemy, that is. To save one soldier, it is permissible to kill ten, twenty, a hundred civilians on the other side.

This rule, unwritten and self-understood, is symbolized by the “Hannibal Procedure” – the code-word for preventing at any cost the taking of an Israeli soldier prisoner. Here, too, a “democratic” principle is at work: no Israeli government can withstand public pressure to release many dozens of Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of one Israeli one. Ergo: prevent a soldier from being taken prisoner, even if the soldier himself is killed in the process.

Hannibal allows – indeed, commands – the wreaking of untold destruction and killing, in order to prevent a captured soldier from being spirited away. This procedure is itself a war crime.

A responsible cabinet, with a minimum of combat experience, would know all this at the moment it was called upon to decide on a military operation. If they don’t know, it is the duty of the army [or “military”] commanders – who are present at such cabinet meetings – to explain it to them. I wonder if they did.

ALL THIS means that, once started, the results were almost unavoidable. To make an attack without serious Israeli casualties possible, entire neighborhoods had to be flattened by drones, planes and artillery. And that obviously happened.

Inhabitants were often warned to flee, and many did. Others did not, being loath to leave behind everything precious to them. Some people flee in the moment of danger, others hope against hope and stay.

I would ask the reader to imagine himself for a moment in such a situation.

Add to this the human element – the mixture of humane and sadistic men, good and bad, you find in any combat unit all over the world, and you get the picture.

Once you start a war, “stuff happens”, as the man said. There may be more war crimes or less, but there will be a lot.

ALL THIS could have been told to the UN committee of inquiry, headed by an American judge, by the chiefs of the Israeli army, had they been allowed to testify. The government did not allow them.

The convenient way out is to proclaim that all UN officials are by nature anti-Semites and Israel-haters, so that answering their questions is counterproductive.

We are moral. We are right. By nature. We can’t help it. Those who accuse us must be anti-Semites. Simple logic.

To hell with them all!

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Pierre Joris & Nicole Peyrafitte at l’ Asile 404…

June 25th, 2015 · Live Reading, Performance, Poetry readings, Uncategorized

in Marseilles with the brilliant Manu Morvan et Thomas Pailharey. Thanks to Denis Brun for the vidéo! It was great fun…see you guys soon again, we hope!

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Genre, Anxiety, and the Plurivocality of the Arabic Tradition

June 24th, 2015 · Anthology, Arab Culture, Arabic, Conference, Uncategorized

via the always excellent Arabic Literature (in English):

The second session of the “A Corpus Not a Canon: A Workshop on the Library of Arabic Literature,” a panel series hosted by Dame Marina Warner and LAL General Editor Philip Kennedy at All Souls College, Oxford, this April. focused on the different genres and modes of writing embraced by the LAL:

On the panel was LAL board member Julia Bray, LAL Executive Editors James Montgomery and Shawkat Toorawa, and LAL editor-translator Beatrice Gruendler. The session focused on three volumes: Two Arabic Travel Books, edited and translated by Tim Mackintosh-Smith and James E. Montgomery; Consorts of the Caliphs, by Ibn al-Sāʿī, edited by Toorawa and translated by the Editors of the Library of Arabic Literature; and The Life and Times of Abu Tammam, by Abū Bakr al-Ṣūlī, edited and translated by Gruendler.

These session overviews will run every Monday from now through July 20, insha’allah:

consortsWhat happens when the Library of Arabic Literature stitches together different genres and modes of writing into one corpus, one conversation, inside one blue jacket? What discordances, what anxieties does it produce? This was a question asked by Oxford’s John-Paul Ghobrial at the end of the second session of the Library of Arabic Literature’s April 25 workshop.

This session looked at different genres and modes of writing embraced by the LAL project, focusing on three volumes. The first was two very different travel books, by Abū Zayd al-Sīrāfī and Ahmad Ibn Faḍlān, that have been joined together under one cover; the second was Consorts of the Caliphs, by Ibn al-Sa’i and collaboratively translated; and the third The Life and Times of Abū Tammām by Abū Bakr al-Ṣūlī, which editor-translator Beatrice Gruendler called a “Russian doll” of nested narratives.

The first two are what we’d easily recognize today as travel writing, the second could be history or could be a special thirteenth-century issue of Cosmo, and the third is perhaps a biography, or perhaps poetry, or perhaps poetics. As panel chair Julia Bray said in her introduction, these three books exemplify the problems—or possibilities—of genre. The first also points to what happens when very different texts are stitched together under one umbrella.

Tim Mackintosh-Smith, who edited the first of the travel narratives, al-Sīrāfī’s Accounts of China and India, wasn’t able to attend the All Souls Workshop. But he suggested in an earlier interview that tenth-century readers of Accounts of China and India approached the writing much as we might look at it now. “It’s a bit similar to reading the pages in the New York Times about the state of the economy in China.”

As for the Ibn Faḍlān, one of his transmitters, Yāqūt, said that the text was “well known and popular with people. I saw many copies of it.” Although both potentially popular in their time, and both recognizably travel narratives, they are also two very different books. The first are the assorted collections of an arm-chair traveler [did someone say this during the panel? Since the Accounts is really two books, and we don’t know much about either, it might be a stretch to say that al-Sirafi is an armchair traveler: even if he wasn’t a well-traveled merchant himself, they were his direct sources, and he lived in two major Gulf seaports, Siraf and Basra. “Armchair traveler” makes him sound like he never left his library], while the other is, as Bray said, an “adventure story.”

There were pragmatic reasons for putting them together in one book, as Mission to the Volgatranslator James Montgomery explained. But it seemed to grow into a conscious attempt to represent the tradition’s many modes of writing.

“One thing we consciously did was we kept myself and Tim out of conversation,” Montgomery said. “Tim was edited by Phil [Kennedy] and I was edited by Shawkat [Toorawa]. We wanted to achieve what Julia [Bray] has just very, very perceptively identified, the sort of plurivocality of the tradition. On the one hand, a set of accounts; on the other, the first and most extensive and most astonishing first-person narrative in Arabic.”

Reviews, Montgomery said, have been “rather bemused by this ‘lack of editorial oversight.’ But, he said, “It was editorial oversight because that was the effect we wanted to produce. I think that aspect of it actually is true to the tradition.”

Although the two are very different books, they are both fascinating travel narratives with potentially popular appeal. They also communicate with each other in interesting ways. At a talk at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in May, Kennedy and Montgomery read aloud from vivid portions of both texts, both of which reflected on modes and meanings attributed to death.

Is this history?

Consorts of the Caliphs is very generically different from either of these, presenting capsule biographies of different well-connected women of the eighth through thirteenth centuries. But like the travel texts, it is also intriguing for a contemporary audience and was a popular book in its time. “This is a book by a historian,” Bray said during her introduction to the workshop’s second session. He was “a historian who wrote large amounts of different history, much of which has now been lost, and who wrote in many different formats and I suppose you could say genre. And no doubt, as a historian, he would’ve considered this book a kind of history.”

But unlike the continuity between ancient and contemporary readings of al-Sīrāfī and Ibn Faḍlān’s narratives, modern readers, Bray thinks, will interpret Consorts differently.

“Modern historians, I think, would probably pooh-pooh it as a work of history, and I think they would be quite wrong to do so. There is a certain mindset about modern historians of the Middle East which is extremely insensitive to questions of genre and mode, and which thereby jettisons an awful lot of vital intellectual and cultural history.”

This book is, she said, “intellectual history in the sense that Joe Lowry was talking about [in the first session]: People confront problems, and they try, if not to solve them, at any rate to do something worthwhile with them. And that is very much what Ibn al-Sa’i is doing” with Consorts of the Caliphs.

When project editor Shawkat Toorawa spoke during the second session about Consorts, he emphasized the collaborative nature of the translation, which also echoes the LAL focus on plurivocality. This collaborative method, he said, means: “It’s a new day.”

Even in the LAL’s choices of what to translate, Toorawa said, are collaborative: “It’s not a small group of people who’ve decided what the corpus is, or what the canon is. It really is trying to embrace as large a group of people who are enamored of the tradition as possible.”

A nesting doll of genre within genre

The Life and Times of Abu Tammam, seems on first glance, as Bray said in her introduction, as though it should be a biography. And it certainly “is focused on a person and his poetry.” But is it biography, or life-writing—or is it other things as well?

“The book itself is a Russian doll of different things,” Gruendler said, “and that’s why I thought it would be a useful book to translate. It has a number of genres, since we’re talking about genres, in it.”

She listed off several, from the smallest nesting-doll to the largest. The smallest was the “nuggets” of poetic vocabulary. These, she said, are put into the poems, “but they’re sort of cut to pieces and dramatically abbreviated, so you only get the good parts of the poems.”

After that, “the poems are inside stories, and that shows you the whole thing, what is actually going on, the ‘why bother.’” This “why bother” aspect of the poetry was important, Gruendler said, as the poems had a function: They got people out of prison, got debts paid, and did all sorts of other practical work, while also being high art.

In the ninth century, the debate that swirled around these poems, Gruendler said, “was the hottest thing that moved at that time in Baghdad.” Then, a hundred years later, when the debate is “lukewarm,” a compiler puts these stories together. This creates another layer, she said, such that the reader is moving between “two time tracks.”

And that, Gruendler says, is the largest nesting-doll, or perhaps the beginning of another genre: “poetics. And how do you criticize? How do you do that?”

Uniformity and distortion

Besides the interest of the books, another thing that brings together the disparate, plurivocal LAL series is its emphasis on readability, which Montgomery, during his presentation, called a “distortion.”

In Montgomery’s first translation of the Ibn Faḍlān, which he did long before the LAL was a twinkle in Phil Kennedy’s eye, he’d tried to echo the Arabic in the English. But “in order to achieve the library’s mission,” when re-translating the work for LAL, “I had to simplify, to reduce, to distill, and to distort.”

The first issue, he said, was the title.

“I wanted The Volga Mission, as though it was a Robert Ludlum story,” Montgomery told the workshop audience. “My colleagues said no, no, you’re getting carried away.”

Later in the session, Toorawa talked more about readability and the LAL series, which both reinvents and standardizes certain usages. In the past, Toorawa said, most Arabic-English translators have rendered an address to the leader as, “O, Commander of the Faithful.” But, “setting aside whether it’s even a defensible translation, we decided to just say ‘sire’.”

“We decided that actually, in distorting, it restored the tenor and the tone of that dialogue. It is one of the ways in which a distortion has helped the English reader make sense of the dialogue.” The LAL translators are able to make these “distortions,” in part, because, “We are liberated by the presence of the Arabic text on the left.”

The reader who can appreciate both languages can glance at the facing page and see what “sire” maps back to. But, Toorawa said, “for the English-only reader, there’s a way we’ve been able to introduce them into a text that is not completely inscrutable. It’s fine not to domesticate, but you don’t want to be completely inscrutable.”

At the end of the session, John-Paul Ghobrial circled back to Montgomery’s anxiety around distortion, and the question of working with texts that are generically very different, and written in very different contexts. He asked: What happens when you place them all within each other as a corpus?

Bray said that the translations themselves speak to this issue, particularly Consorts of the Caliphs. “Some of the poetry, the expert tells us, is authentic and some of it is spurious. And how do you tackle that in your translation?”

She and Montgomery also talked about other anxieties—about how people in the field were no longer trained to edit texts, and how translation wasn’t an activity given time by Western universities.  “By our massive collective investment in this, we want to try and reinstate this as a scholarly activity and get people time to do it and rewards to do it.”

“The[re are] distortions that we may be bringing to the material by bringing it under one umbrella, because it’s what we can do, or what we feel needs doing.” But these, Bray said, are “not just focused on the corpus itself, they’re focused on what is in some ways an even larger enterprise.”

Session One:

Re-membering: How to Assemble a Corpus of Classical Arabic Literature

Of course, if you’d like to re-member your own version of events:

You can listen to the whole day’s workshop online.

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Norman Weinstein on “Barzakh”

June 23rd, 2015 · Book Review, Poetry

Just published on Jacket2; below the opening paras & the link to the whole piece.

Healer and hunter:
A review of Pierre Joris’s ‘Barzakh’

Barzakh: Poems 2000–2012
Pierre Joris
Black Widow Press 2014, 306 pages, $19.95, ISBN 996007924

My father was a healer & a hunter. Is it any surprise I became a poet & translator? (“Nimrod,” 121)

“Nothing truer than fragment” — I’m quoting Robert Kelly — & I love the coupling of “truth” which in our Western culture is always associated with the simple, the whole, the complete with the notion of the fragment, which can only be incomplete, multiple, partial so that the notion of a “true fragment” is de facto oxymoronic” (“Maintenant #94 — Pierre Joris: An interview with Pierre Joris by S. J. Fowler)

In identifying archetypally with healer and hunter, Pierre Joris brings his poems of the twenty-first century into an ever more fervid and restless search mode. Healers and hunters operate under the most severe time constraints, with survival at stake. Which is why Robert Kelly’s sage half-truth “Nothing truer than fragment” needs to be fleshed out. What Joris does with fragments, with increasing acuity decade after decade in his poems, is search and sift among fragments with urgent speed and decisiveness — nomad on the run — to shape fragments so they coalesce into culturally vibrant patterns of meaning. Think of Pound’s image of iron filings magnetized, constellated into an image of a rose. Like Pound, Joris finds fragments that move through his field of attention at high-velocity. Often from source to target language(s), faithful to his Luxemborgian-cum-American self whose oscillations in youth between German and French gave rise to his unsettling-settling home language of American English. Heard in the play of his ear and intellect, a true world music mix from a hydrogen jukebox in “A Poem in Noon”:

where our r, French,
rolls & roils
into the dark of a round
wonder, a drop in
a bucket, to re-emerge
hissing wet, somewhat
sheepish, but not ain
so difficult to pronounce
for northern claritas. (130)

Roaming among romance languages — hunting in the terra incognita of romance — Joris finds fragments of extraordinary resonance among the exiled: Dante (“This afternoon Dante”), Jabes (“Reading Edmond Jabes”), and Celan (“Shakespeare sonnet #71, re-Englished after Paul Celan’s German version without consulting the original”). Hunting for fragments among them, carrying them with him on his US-Maghreb transits — he shares with his beloved exiles an acute moral vision, sparks crystallizing fragments into a poem as a patterned integrity, as dynamically whirling as a Calder mobile, intently defining exilic hideaways, latently healing/reweaving a ripped social fabric. Set to music in this book’s finale working through news fragments of yet another leaking oil tanker catastrophe at sea, “The Gulf: From Rigwreck to Disaster”:

what we know is oil & water do not mix
what we know is fish & oil do not mix

what we know is you & I have to mix
what we know is you & I have to live (175)

[ctd here]

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Stephen Kessler on Juan Felipe Herrera

June 22nd, 2015 · Celebration, Essays

This article was first published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel two days ago.

America’s new ‘bard without borders’

Juan Felipe Herrera, California’s poet laureate, the son of migrant farmworkers, will be the next U.S. poet in chief. Riverside Press-Enterprise file

Juan Felipe Herrera, child of Mexican-American migrant workers, schooled at UCLA and Stanford, native Californian and outgoing state poet laureate, frequent visitor to Santa Cruz (last year he was here for an appearance at Cabrillo College and was interviewed at the KUSP studios by “Poetry Show” host Dennis Morton and me), one of the most original and creatively energetic writers alive, has been named United States poet laureate by longtime Librarian of Congress James Billington. It is a brilliant parting shot from the retiring librarian, a shot in the arm for Latinos nationwide, and a shot of high-octane health juice for American poetry.

Juan Felipe, a friend of mine since 1980 when we met at the home of Fernando Alegría, then chair of Stanford’s Spanish and Portuguese department and Juan Felipe’s professor, has long been known as one of the top Chicano poets, but far more than that he is a truly international, multicultural, multilingual voice of tremendous inventiveness, artistic scope, theatrical panache and political wit. A dazzling performer and improviser, he can make up a poem on the spot and speak it aloud — I’ve seen him do this — as if it were all in a day’s work, which in fact it is.

Herrera’s great range of styles, tones, formal innovations, moods, attitudes, musical and rhythmic moves, his militancy and his comedy, his compound ironies and poignant insights give him a working canvas of big dimensions, and he fills it with amazing images and colors and emotions and associations. Though he has made his living teaching in universities — he’s recently retired from an endowed chair at UC Riverside — he is anything but an academic poet. While he is clearly in the modernist tradition and experimental in his radical poetics — he has been called “a rock ‘n’ roll surrealist” — he is also a people’s poet, a populist, an entertainer and a joker. He is indeed a bard without borders.

Herrera is a gust of fresh air for American poetry because he is such a master of his written and spoken medium that he can break all the rules and get away with it, switch genres and languages in the middle of a sentence, do whatever he wants to and pull it off with the grace of Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik turning a double play. His writing is both balletic and athletic, light on its feet and heavy-hitting in its depth of themes and intensity of feeling — it is funny and tragic and in constant and unpredictable motion.

Juan Felipe’s authentic humility is rooted in his sense of community, and while he has a completely distinctive individual voice (influenced by Walt Whitman and Woody Allen and Allen Ginsberg and César Vallejo and Al Pacino and Carlos Santana and Frank O’Hara and countless other creative models from every form of art), he understands that he also speaks for and represents the aspirations of others — not just workers or immigrants or Latinos but anyone alive enough to listen — and wants to encourage them through poetry to envision what he calls in one of his poems “a life without boundaries.”

Juan Felipe Herrera has lived such a life and it is testimony to the power of unleashed imagination that he will soon be poet laureate of the United States.

Stephen Kessler is a Santa Cruz writer whose latest book, a translation, is “Forbidden Pleasures,” by the Spanish poet Luis Cernuda.

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“Humanity at risk:” climate scientist Schellnhuber speaks at the Vatican

June 19th, 2015 · Climate Change

Press Release by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research


Pope Francis’ much anticipated encyclical “Laudato Si” on inequality and the environment mirrors not only religious insights but also the findings of climate science. “Not the poor but the wealthy are putting our planet, and ultimately humanity, at risk,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), at the presentation of the encyclical in the Vatican today. “Those who profited least from the exploitation of fossil fuels and contributed least to greenhouse-gas emissions are hit hardest by global warming impacts, unless we strongly reduce emissions.” Schellnhuber is the only scientist who has been invited to speak, alongside Cardinal Peter Turkson.

In the run-up to the encyclical, Schellnhuber participated in a number of workshops organized by the highly renowned Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which made him its member on Wednesday. The document now issued by the leader of more than one billion Catholics around the world is expected to be an important signal on the road to a global agreement on emissions reductions and eventually a full decarbonization of the world economy which will be negotiated by governments at the world climate summit in Paris later this year.

“The atmosphere, heaven above us all, is a global common – yet it is used as a waste-dump for greenhouse gases by the few,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of PIK and director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. “The Pope is making history in highlighting this. If we want to avoid dangerous climate change, we have to restrict the use of the atmosphere by putting a price on CO2 emissions. This would generate revenues which could be used to improve access to clean water or education, especially for the poor.”

Along with other international experts, Edenhofer has been consulted by the Vatican in the run-up to the encyclical. He was joint leader of a recent project on climate justice and development, which resulted in a number of conferences at the Vatican. On the evening of 18 June, he will discuss the encyclical in Berlin at an event hosted by the Catholic Academy and the Deutsche Bischofs-Konferenz. On 1 July, he will debate the Pope’s messages with Cardinal Turkson and author Naomi Klein (“Capitalism versus Climate”) in Rome.

Attachment: Paper by John Schellnhuber distributed at the Vatican event today

Weblink to encyclica “Laudato Si”in eight languages.
Weblink to the Rome event on 1 July.
Weblink to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. 



Common Ground

The Papal Encyclical, Science and the Protection of Planet Earth

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany; Santa Fe Institute for Complex Systems Research, USA

Laudato si’, the Papal Encyclical[1], is compiled at a crucial moment in the history of humanity: today.

We are faced with the great challenge of limiting global warming to below 2°C while fostering development for the poorest. But we are also experiencing a special window of opportunity because the knowledge about the Earth system has never been greater. Moreover, we have the technical and economic solutions at hand to overcome the challenges we are confronted with.

The urgency to act on these pressing issues that is expressed in the Encyclical mirrors the scientific findings which have accumulated into an overwhelming body of evidence. The science is clear: global warming is driven by greenhouse-gas emissions which are the result of burning fossil fuels. If we fail to strongly reduce these emissions and to bend the warming curve, we, our neighbors and children will be exposed to intolerable risks. The scientific consensus as represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been continuously reaffirmed by the most eminent scientific academies, including the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences which have congregated several times over the past years to address the topics of climate change and global sustainability ([2]–[5]). As any further delay to mitigation measures may jeopardize climate stability and thus our future, it is time to form alliances, find common ground and act together as humankind — but also to take on individual responsibility and change what is in our power to change.

What we have done

The large-scale production of fossil fuel energy which was initiated by the Industrial Revolution and accelerated in the 20thcentury has led to great human development – for a minority. For the very few, it has even generated extreme wealth. On the other side of this development stand the poor and the poorest of the poor. The structural violence of this development predetermines their lives. Sources of fossil fuel energy are private goods, owned by corporations or controlled by governments. Access to energy thus largely depends on the financial resources of the individual. It follows that the deployment of fossil fuel energy and the connected technological advances have led to unprecedented disparities and to wasteful over-usage of resources. The carbon history of humankind is one of exploitation.


Figure 1:
Distribution of global carbon emissions over the world population (grouped in countries and ranked by their wealth). The left part of the curve is “flat”, indicating that the bottom billion contributes virtually nothing to global warming. Also, the lower income groups contribute little to global emissions on average. The right part of the curve is “steep”, indicating how much more the lifestyle of the average individual in rich countries contributes to the total global problem.
Data sources: CDIAC for emissions and Penn World Tables 8.0 for GDP and population. Not for all countries was the necessary data available, hence the difference to the actual world population number of more than seven billion people.

But not only were the poor excluded from participating in human progress, now they are forced to cope with the dreadful byproduct: climate change. This constitutes an unacceptable double- inequality: the poor are responsible for a tiny share of global emissions (Figure 1), yet they have to bear the greatest consequences. Contrary to what some have claimed, it is not the mass of poor people that destroys the planet, but the consumption of the rich. Global warming is the consequence of this development of a few and will affect everyone, but brings devastation especially to the weakest in society. As has been pointed out in the Encyclical, it is not possible to address climate change and poverty consecutively, in either order. It is indispensable to confront them simultaneously, as human development is deeply intertwined with the services the Earth provides. If these services are under threat through manmade environmental destruction, the poor will be the first to suffer. They live in exposed areas and have no resources to adapt to a changing climate. Furthermore, some climate impacts will disproportionately affect many of the developing countries.

Presently, the disparities are engrained so deeply that the poor remain voiceless, well-aware of the changes to their environment, but without any knowledge about the underlying causes. They are continuously kept from forming an opinion on climate change because they lack a formal education, yet their need for a life of dignity has been repeatedly misused as an excuse for inaction on climate


change. Hitherto, dignity has remained impossible to attain for the many who live in their own and foreign waste, without access to clean water, exposed to environmental hazards and without the power to shape their own future. The unnecessary hardship the poor have had to experience in a world of abundance can no longer be accepted.

Already, we have not only violated the moral boundaries of our global civil society, but are also leaving the safe operating space of our planet by crossing planetary guardrails [6]. The continuation on this development pathway will not bring prosperity for all, but may end in disaster for most. But it is not an inevitable fate to which humanity has to succumb. As climate change is human-made, it is also in our hands to turn the trend around. Although the Earth system is characterized by great complexities and further research is needed in many areas, the scientific knowledge on climate change impacts is already so profound that it will be impossible to refer to ignorance as a justification for our inaction.

What we have learned

“If the Lord Almighty had consulted me before embarking on the Creation, I would have recommended something simpler” stated Alonso X of Castile in the 13th century. Were this advice taken, we would have been deprived of the exquisite joy that lies in the admiration of the complexity surrounding us – nature itself. Even the most abstract-minded mathematician recognizes the awe- provoking mystery behind the fact that a very simple-looking equation can wonderfully unfold into a beautiful picture of intricacy. The Earth’s climate (in keen competition with the human brain) constitutes perhaps one of the most breathtaking manifestations of this complexity [1, No.20]. We live in an age that grants us the privilege of building on centuries of tradition in natural sciences fueled by human curiosity – this enables us more than ever before to assess the causes of climatic change.

I have had the honor to elaborate on that subject in a contribution to a workshop of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility last year [7]. It states that “The climate system is a most delicate fabric of interwoven planetary components (such as the atmosphere, the oceans, the cryosphere, the soils, and the ecosystems) that interact through intricate physical, chemical, geological and biological processes (such as advection, upwelling, sedimentation, oxidization, photosynthesis, and evapotranspiration). […] We eventually become aware of the fact that even slightly pulling one single string might have the potential to tear apart the entire fabric.“

This fabric constitutes the parachute for our daily flight in the environment surrounding us, shaken by the mighty forces of nature – and yet a small, privileged group of mankind has been pulling strings ever more strongly since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. And as a result, we are already starting to tailspin. For instance, after a “decade of weather extremes” [8] it is now clear that local heat records happen about five times more often than they would in an unchanged climate – that is with an intact parachute [9]. At the same time, although still too far away to be directly visible to most of us (but not to all!), major turbulence is approaching inexorably: almost 20 cm of global mean sea-level rise since 1880, for example, is starting to impact entire societies, washing away the ground they live on or degrading the soil on which they grow their food through salt-water intrusion.


Sea-level rise distinctly illustrates many dilemmas often involved also with other climate change impacts. Rising gauges, for example, are on the one hand caused by the expansion of sea water as it warms, on the other hand by the extra amount of water in our ocean basins stemming from melting glaciers and ice caps. Since most of the Earth’s ice – inherited from many ice ages over countless millennia – is located near the poles on Greenland and the Antarctic continent, its loss by melting reduces the gravitational pull and sets the water free to float more towards the Equator. This is the region on the globe where most of those people are living who do not have the means to purchase reserve parachutes in the form of uphill estates. Another dilemma lies in the long time span between cause and effect – the already damaged fabric will silently but inexorably unravel more and more until the consequences can no longer be ignored. Ice flow changes that are happening now, for instance, in a large ice basin in West Antarctica ([10], [11]) seem to have been triggered by warm ocean waters bathing the floating tongues of the glaciers. But the resulting speed-up of the ice flow – once initiated – can likely not be halted due to nonlinearities in the underlying dynamics. This means that ultimately about 1.2 meters of sea-level rise – in addition to all the anticipated contributions stemming from human interference with the climate system – have to be expected from that single source over the centuries to come.

The West Antarctic ice sheet is – due to the mentioned nonlinearity – a classic example of a tipping element in the Earth System [12]. But there are many more: from the ice sheets and glaciers, to permafrost in the vastness of Siberia and northern North America, to monsoon systems, the Jet Stream and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation pattern, and to biological systems like coral reefs or the Amazon rainforest. What they all have in common is that fundamental changes of state, caused by a relatively small external disturbance, are possible due to the complexity of the associated nonlinear system. Although the respective dynamics of those elements is beginning to be better understood, our ability as human beings to intuitively grasp nonlinearities is surprisingly limited: in our everyday experience, cause and effect are usually closely connected in time, space and extent. This, however, is not the case with the tipping elements: Climate change, caused by this tiny molecule of CO2, can trigger sudden, irreversible and large-scale disruptions in the above-named interwoven physical and ecological systems. It is therefore of utmost importance for the scientific community to clearly communicate the risks involved with altering our climate – crossing certain thresholds may turn tiny holes in the fabric into long, ever increasing ladders.

The visualization of those risks in Figure 2 aims at making these sometimes dry scientific results come to life: it illustrates a crucial reasoning behind the well-known 2°C guardrail. While for many millennia, human civilization has had the privilege to relish a largely stable Earth temperature (in blue), we are now on track to abandon this climate paradise, as can be seen by the sharp increase in temperature (in black). Depending on the choices we make today, in our future we may follow the green path, respecting the 2°C guardrail, or – if we continue with business as usual – greenhouse gas emissions will lead us along the red path, past 4°C by the end of this century and with even higher warming levels in store after that.


Figure 2:
Global-mean surface temperature evolution from the Last Glacial maximum through the Holocene, based on paleoclimatic proxy data ([13], [14]) (light gray), instrumental measurements since 1750 AD (HadCRUT data, black) and different global warming scenarios for the future (see [15] for the latter). Threshold ranges for crossing various tipping points where major subsystems of the climate system are destabilized have been added from refs. ([15]–[20]).

What difference does it make? This question is often asked with the notion that a doubling of temperature increase would mean a simple doubling in the severity of the consequences. And it reveals the linear thinking that is so natural to most of us. However, this assumption is completely misleading. The complexity of nature gives rise to temperature thresholds which – if crossed – leave the associated tipping element in a fundamentally different state. Those thresholds are visualized in Figure 2 for a number of climatic elements. The coral reefs, for example, are at risk of long-term degradation [16] and the Greenland ice sheet may melt down in the end [20], even if the 2°C guardrail is respected. But the further the temperature rises, the higher is the risk of crossing the tipping point for each element, and the more climatic elements are in danger. The consequences such as the collapse of the “lung of the Earth”, the Amazon rainforest, would be disastrous, not to mention a complete disintegration of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, associated with about 3.3 and 7 meters of sea-level rise, respectively. As has been addressed also in the Encyclical [1, No. 34], technological advances would not be able to keep up in providing solutions to manage changes of this scale.

The difference between 2 and 4 °C global warming is reflected in these tipping elements. But even without explicitly considering these potential large-scale, non-linear changes, it is indisputable that a 4 °C warmer world has to be avoided ([21]–[23]). For instance, heat extremes, which are virtually absent today and almost certainly never occurred since the rise of human civilization (and not even since the formation of key ecosystems), would become normal in central West Africa following the red path – this is the scenario for business as usual. Such a drastic change would again strike most heavily those who have not eaten from the fruit of fossil fuel burning to any noteworthy extent: the poor.


Figure 3:
Regional distribution of the frequency of extremely hot months (“5σ-months”) in a 4 °C world ( June, July and August between 2080 and 2100). The color coding indicates the percentage of months which are hotter than today by five standard deviations (5σ) – those heat extremes would be virtually absent without climate change. On one end of the color scale is dark blue (0%-10% of all months are hotter by five σ); on the other end dark red (90%-100% of all months are hotter by 5σ). This shows clearly that 5σ-months become the new “climate normal” in the tropical land regions ([24]– [26]).

What we need to do

The long-term perspective illustrated through the tipping thresholds in Figure 2 reveals a far-reaching insight: Although the poor are the first to suffer and will be most fundamentally affected, all of mankind are ultimately reliant on the same parachute, irrespective of the temporary short-term benefits for a handful. This parachute – a stable climate – being destroyed by the few, is our common good. The Encyclical confirms this assessment which scientists and moral philosophers have claimed in the context of climate policy: “The climate is a global commons of all and for all” [1, No. 20]. The atmosphere is a global good because of its limited disposal space for greenhouse gas emissions. Presently, the upper-middle classes worldwide are rapidly depleting this scarce resource by emitting greenhouse gases in vast amounts. In contrast to the limited disposal space in the atmosphere, fossil fuels, especially coal, are abundant. Hence limiting the increase of global mean temperature to 2°C requires confining the amount of carbon still to be released into the atmosphere to 1000 gigatons of CO2 (or less). Whereas restricting the use of the atmosphere as a carbon dump is absolutely necessary to avoid intolerable damage and suffering for the many, it will devalue the assets and the property titles of today’s owners of coal, oil and gas. Almost 80 % of coal has to remain underground in a climate-change mitigation scenario compared to a business-as-usual case. Hence, climate policy implies shifting property rights for using the atmosphere from fossil fuel owners to a novel owner – humankind as a whole [27].

It is understandable that there are claims for compensation for the devaluation of the assets in the fossil fuel sector. However, the devaluation of these assets is by no means an illegitimate expropriation because it serves the common good – the avoidance of catastrophic climate risks. The Encyclical draws attention to the principle of “the social obligation of private property”. This goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas and has been further developed by the social teaching of the Catholic Church, in particular by this Encyclical “Laudato si’” of Pope Francis [1, No. 20, 93-95, 156-158]. It maintains that private property, in general, and in natural resource endowments, in particular, is


ethically justifiable only if it serves the common good. Moreover, the upcoming devaluation of fossil resources could be viewed as an act of ‘creative destruction,’ instigating a new integral industrial revolution that would bring enormous economic opportunities – possibly also to those who have so far not participated in human progress. The transformation of the way we produce our energy may well cause a greater transformation of society as a whole.

International negotiations over national emission reduction goals, national carbon prices or even a global price, implicitly or explicitly allocate rights for use of carbon space in the atmosphere to nation states, firms and consumers. “Laudato si’” does not provide technical guidance on how to allocate user rights for the atmosphere. However, Pope Francis highlights the ethical dimension of the climate problem and provides fundamental principles to be applied for solutions: the preferential option for the poor, inter- and intragenerational justice, common but differentiated responsibility, orientation to the common good. The Encyclical argues for a global governance structure for the whole spectrum of the planetary commons [1, No. 174]. Putting a price on CO2 emissions – either in the form of emissions cap & trade systems like the one in Europe or the one that China plans to set up, or through national CO2 taxes – is an effective instrument to protect the common good.

Figure 4 shows that a mitigation pathway is economically feasible, without significant consumption losses, compared to a business-as-usual scenario. Further, a strong, legally binding target and an adequate CO2 price would provide businesses with more predictable frameworks to operate in – something that even major oil companies recently called for – and give incentives to invest in clean technologies. This would significantly accelerate innovation in the fields of renewable energy production, distribution and storage and at the same time bring down production costs and retail prices. To spur the build-up of new energy systems in the developing world, to support them in their mitigation efforts as well as in adaptation measures to build climate resilience, financial instruments such as the Green Climate Fund are indispensable. Controlling efficient use of the funding for the benefit of the poor of course is a challenge. Yet insurance systems, for instance, which enable subsistence farmers to economically survive climate-related yield failures and other disasters, illustrate how much can already be done today. Moreover, a variety of solutions have emerged from the scientific discourse, including, for example, international monitoring of national emissions reductions or the establishment of a global ‘climate bank’ to manage the emissions allowance.


Figure 4:
“The cost of saving the planet”. The blue mitigation path shows the median reduction of consumption and its uncertainty range as estimated by IPCC, illustrated here relative to a baseline example (red) with 2.3% annual growth. The nearly 8-fold increase in global consumption by the year 2100 in the baseline case is reached 2 years later in the case that includes the median climate mitigation costs. Note that these cost estimates do not consider damages from climate change, which would likely turn out to be a much greater burden than the mitigation costs, nor does it include co- benefits or side effects of mitigation

Technologically, the deployment of clean energy for all is feasible [28]: this energy, in fact, is available in abundance. All we have to do is develop the means to properly harvest it and responsibly manage our consumption. While we have been working decade after decade on developing an incredibly expensive fusion reactor, we are already blessed with one that works perfectly well and is free to all of us: the Sun. Photovoltaics, wind and energy from biomass are ultimately all powered by sunlight. These new technologies could unfold potential in poor countries where no grid exists to distribute electricity produced by centralized power plants and where settlements may be too distantly located from one another to make such a system feasible. Just like the evolving use of mobile phones without the previous establishment of landlines, developing countries could leapfrog the fossil episode and enter the age of decentralized renewable energy production without detour.

The care for our planet therefore does not have to evolve into a tragedy of the commons. It may well turn into a story of a great transformation in which the opportunity was seized to overcome the profound inequalities. These disparities arose from the geological coincidence of regional fossil fuel distribution controlled by the few and the concomitant exploitation. Today, the implications of our actions and the pathways are clear. It is solely a question of what future we choose to believe in and to pursue [29].



  1. [1]  Pope Francis, Carta Encíclica Laudato si’ – Sobre el Cuidado de la Casa Común. Vatican City, 2015.
  2. [2]  Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, “Sustainable Humanity Sustainable Nature – Our Responsibility,” Vatican City, 2014.
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  1. [16]  K. Frieler, M. Meinshausen, A. Golly, M. Mengel, K. Lebek, S. D. Donner, and O. Hoegh- Guldberg, “Limiting global warming to 2 °C is unlikely to save most coral reefs,” Nat. Clim. Chang., vol. 3, pp. 165–170, 2013.
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Nicole’s Chantilly Communion

June 18th, 2015 · Performance

communionWas unable to actually download & embed the little video by Françoise Lonquety from FB, but click on the still image above & you’ll get there. The lucky person getting communion above is Cyrille Commène, author of Zola, rêve sans nom. Happy Birth-day, Nicole!


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Post-Marché de la Poésie

June 17th, 2015 · Whatever

Four exhilarating & exhausting days are over. The Marché de la poésie was exciting as every year — though a slight shadow seems to hang over it, i.e. economic politics (& conditions) may see it disappear, which would be a real shame. Was also sad that old friend Jacques Darras, whose last year as president of the Marché this was, couldn’t be there as he was ill (but is better now).

Below a little gallery of pictures I took — not an activity I like or am any good at (two aspects that should usually complement each other). There’s also a funny video of Serge Pey, Eric Sarner & me doing a  bullish little two-step circulating on FB, as well as a good video of Nicole’s performance whisking crème chantilly & offering communion to the audience in front of her publisher’s stand.


Abdellatif & Jocelyne Laabi — both excellent writers & an immense treat to spend time with talking of poetry, Morocco, politics, poetics, politics, &  poetry again ad infinitum over good food — French or Moroccan.


Paul Stubbs, English poet, & Blandine Longre who together edit Black Herald Press & the magazine, The Black Herald here in Paris. They are the most recent bi-lingual undertaking in this town known for such ventures for more than a century.


The other Luxembourg nomad poet & translator Jean Portante resting beneath Nicole’s “Hemnas de Oo.” We’ll meet up again in 2 weeks in Durango Mexico.


Poet, film-maker, translator Eric Sarner expressing surprise after getting the “Prix A. Ribot” (which rhymes suspiciously with “Haribo,” the name of a well-known commercial sweet) a literary prize the name of which jokingly riffs off the actually bestowed “Aristo(tle”) prize.


Grand old master publisher Jean-Michel Place (specialized in Surrealism, full editions of classical avant-garde magazines & beautiful avant-garde art books)  offering me cherries from his own garden in the South of France.

See you — hopefully! —next year at Place Saint Sulpice in Paris for another installment of the Marché de la Poésie.

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Battle over Free Speech for Artists and Writers in Israel

June 16th, 2015 · Israel, Palestine

on ( 0 )

In mid-April, pots began banging over Parallel Timea production for which the state froze Haifa-based al-Midan Theatre’s financing. The state also began an investigation into the theatre’s financing, and the Education Ministry effectively banned the play from schools, retracting the work’s eligibility for subsidized performances for students:

Haifa's Al-Midan Theatre.

This happened when the Palestinian play, which depicts the life of a prisoner, was sur-titled in Hebrew. The Education Ministry, under Naftali Bennett, intervened to stop the play in schools.

After that, the culture ministry threatened to cut funds for a Jaffa children’s theatre because its Palestinian founder, Norman Issa, refused to perform in a settlement.

And a recent statement from Israel’s new Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, trans. +972, states that “Institutions that delegitimize the State of Israel will not receive funding. …. As minister of culture it’s my job to ensure a diversity of voices in Israeli society, [but] currently we are in the midst of a diplomatic campaign and we must do everything possible to stop giving ammunition to our enemies.”

It’s sparked a wave of protest from Israeli artists, 2,000 of whom signed a petition “warning against what they call anti-democratic measures being taken by the government against freedom of expression,” according to The Guardian. 

Well-known Israeli novelist David Grossman, for instance, told Haaretz, “There are so many things to say, and yet Miri Regev has demarcated a field of discourse that is no wider than the opened blades of the censor’s scissors.”

This came on the heels of the Knesset celebrating its first ever “Arab Book Day,” where MK Issawi Frej called for greater support for Arabic literature, according to The AlgemeinerThis project, which includes a digital library of Palestinian literature, seems little likely.

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