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Being the voice of change

In every man is a cry for self expression. He either expresses this by contributing to society's good, or if gagged, by pulling at the very fabrics that hold society together.
–Ugochukwu Urim

Frank Zappa once called the U.S. government, "the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex." In light of recent White House events--Laura Bush's cancellation of a poetry reading once it became evident that poets would speak out against the war and the covering up of Picasso's painting, "Guernica," during Colin Powell's address on "findings" that necessitate a pre-emptive strike--it would seem that indeed, the types of "entertainment" the public has been allowed access to, of late, has been heavily edited by our current war-centric administration. And Americans--not to mention, global citizens--have not taken this political censorship lightly.

Lately, we have seen some of the largest global displays of anti-war demonstrations since the Vietnam War. Multiple organizations, Web sites and groups have been formed to speak out against the U.S. government's (and other nations') support of military action in Iraq. And artists, as usual, have been instrumental in lending their voices to the anti-war effort, organizing poetry readings (poetsagainstthewar.org), dramatic readings (the Lysistrata Project) and speak-outs across the nation and around the world.

But not everybody is feelin' this proliferation of artistic articulation. In a recent editorial in Seattle's alternative weekly, The Stranger, columnist Neal Pollack had this to say about the emergence of anti-war literary voices: "Nobody gives a shit what anti-war or pro-war writers think. Really. So shut up. That goes double for poets. Shut the hell up, poets. Everybody just shut up."

... And now, a moment of silence for those who don't give a shit ...

Regardless of where you stand socially, ideologically, politically, globally or artistically, one thing--as always--is certain: Every voice matters. For the past several weeks, The Independent has been soliciting entries for our annual poetry contest with the theme: Stone Soup: What do you add to the pot?--a theme that hopes to showcase a diverse range of voices and experiences and lives and ideas. We want to hear from you regarding what ingredient you contribute that sweetens the soup of life. Look in this week's (and recent) issues of The Independent or visit our Web site (www.indyweek.com) for contest rules and detailed guidelines, and add your own voice to the mix (by March 5). Because really, we do give a shit. And as Mahatma Gandhi reminds us, it's up to each of us to "be the change you want to see in the world." In literary solidarity,

  • Being the voice of change

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