Talk about embargoed poets! The University of Iowa Press has just published a collection of poems by Guantanamo prisoners called : Poems from Guantanamo - The Detainees Speak. ($13.95, hardcover) The detainees have been composing and writing poetry, but the Pentagon has refused to declassify the poems, saying that poetry "presents a special risk" to national security because of its "content and format". Many of the poems have been lost, confiscated or destroyed, and a number have yet to be cleared for publication, but this small collection speaks with loud voices.
Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, in a poem called Hunger Strike Poem, says:
They do not respect the law,
They do not respect men,
They do not spare the elderly
They do not spare the baby-toothed child
They leave us in prison for years, uncharged,
Because we are Muslims.
Where is the world to save us from torture?
Where is the world to save us from the fire and sadness?
Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?
and a poem by Jumah al Dossari
Take my blood.
Take my death shroud and
The remnants of my body.
Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely.
Send them to the world,
To the judges and
To the people of conscience,
Send them to the principled men and the fair-minded.
And let them bear the guilty burden before the world,
Of this innocent soul.
Let them bear the burden before their children and before history,
Of this wasted, sinless soul,
Of this soul which has suffered at the hands of the "protectors of peace."
These poems, and the short biographical sketches which accompany them, let us see these up until now nameless, faceless "detainees" as human beings, creative, passionate friends, brothers, poets. We need to listen closely, and make a new future for the world.