Poets for PeaceMark Gregory (March 2003)
The political power of poetry became evident late last year when President George Bush's wife cancelled a poetry reading in the White House incase some poets spoke against the impending war with Iraq. By March 5th a small army of poets in Britain presented Prime minister Blair with 10,000 poems. And in Australia our most famous poet, Les Murray, had penned his own anti-war poem as if in revolt against his many years as a conservative icon.
This revolt of the poets is just as world wide as the huge demonstrations. It too makes extensive use of the internet, gathering not just the information that we dont find in our daily papers but also the artistic work of the thousands of creative people who simply say "War is not the Answer". People who no longer trust their elected representatives to do their job and represent them.
From his clifftop chalet at Whitsand Bay, Cornwall England, poet Anthony Ginn started a "Poets Against War" http://www.poetsagainstwar.org.uk/ website last October.
Simultaneously and coincidentally American poet Sam Hamill started a "Poets Against the War" website
http://www.poetsagainstthewar.org/ in the US. As often happens in the web world the two poets linked their sites and began to work together and by March had attracted over 13,000 poems from all over the
world. 10,000 were selected to present to Bush and Blair.
There have been wonderful speeches and letters against the war by writers and playwrights recently, from John LeCarre, Kurt Vonnegut, Harold Pinter, Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. A good example is this extract from "Confronting Empire" a speech made by Arundhati Roy in Brazil January 28, 2003
"When George Bush says "you're either with us, or you are with the terrorists" we can say "No thank you." We can let him know that the people of the world do not need to choose between a Malevolent Mickey Mouse and the Mad Mullahs.
Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe.
The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
Songwriters are getting together in much the same way as the poets, the writers and the actors. The Centre for Political Song in Glasgow has a page for songwriters to add their anti-war songs.
Songwriters in Britain have already published a CD "The Price of Oil". Peter Hicks and Geoff Francis have invited other Australian songwriters to join with them in a compilation CD (No Blood For Oil) , and John Williamson will release his single called "Keep Australia Beautiful" on March 24.
Many anti-war songs and poems have been added to the Union Songs website including:
A Better World For You by Anthea Sidiropoulos
Agent Orange by John Warner
The Cavemen by Peggy Seeger
Call To Arms by Richard Mills
Coalition of the Willing by John Warner
Faces In The Dark by Peter Hicks and Geoff Francis
Four Strong Women by Maurie Mulheron
Hey, Mr. President, Don't You Kill for Me! by Ron and Tom Piechota
International Cowboy by John Warner
The Iraqi War Song by Country Bumpkin and the Hog
Johnny Howard's March by John Dengate
No Blood For Oil by Jim Lesses
P.E.A.C.E. by Ken Stewart
The Pig-Iron Song by Clem Parkinson
September 11th by Keith McKenry & Bruce Watson
Smart Bombs, Dumb Politicians by Bruce Watson
So Many Tears, So Many Flowers by Peter Hicks and Geoff Francis
Stop the War by John Warner
Terrorist Song by John Dengate
This is a Perfect Moment by Rob Brezsny
Warsong by Bernard Carney
The War is Still Wrong by John Warner
Water to the Trenches by Steve Barnes
Who needs friends? by Colleen Burke
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union songs..........a selection by mark gregory