Poets read at NKU to promote peace

“Never has there been a good war, or bad peace.”

These words of Benjamin Franklin were spoken in the eighteenth century and, to some, still hold true today.

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni gathered Feb. 13 in Budig Theater to share poetry that conveys messages of peace and voices opposition to war.

R.L. “Bob” Barth, Vietnam veteran and NKU alumnus, started the event by reading poems he wrote about his experiences in Vietnam.

His poetry explored the realities of war from a soldier’s viewpoint.

Although they were from a different generation, some feel his words are still relevant today and that the horrors of war are timeless.

To further prove his point, Barth finished by reading Rudyard Kipling’s 1917 poem “Mesopotamia.”

Professor Andy Miller read his poem “Homeland Security,” written in response to the Department of Homeland Security encouraging citizens to purchase duct tape and sheets of plastic to protect homes.

Miller believes that their emphasis was more about the “perception of being safe, rather than being safe.”

Miller followed by reading E. E. Cummings poem “Next to of course God America I…” which he felt was pertinent today because “these decisions [of war] are made by people who are not going to war.”

Assistant Professor Dr. Kristine Yohe was involved in organizing both this and last years’ poetry readings.

The tradition originated nationwide last year due to the cancellation of a White House ceremony honoring American poets Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes.

Officials were worried that the contemporary poets invited to the event would express their views on the opposition of war and attract negative attention to the ceremony.

This year Yohe was again on the committee who helped organize the event at NKU.

Yohe said she was “glad to get so many people involved [and] to see the response of students.”

When asked why they chose to hold the event this year Yohe said, “It’s important in a democracy to invite debate and to recognize that supporting peace is patriotic.”

Yohe said that she hopes “protesting against the war continues.”

Many participants in the poetry readings said they hope there will not be a reason to hold events like this in the future.

They also said that by spreading their message and getting their words to hold true in people’s hearts, hopefully they will succeed in their quest to bring about peace.