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Poets to focus on war in Iraq during reading

Tim Kennedy

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To promote discussion and create a venue of debate on one of America’s most heated issues, Northern Kentucky University faculty members are hosting the fourth annual Poetry Against the War reading Feb. 16.

The event is a forum designed to allow students and faculty the chance to speak their minds about the war in Iraq – in a poetic manner, of course.

“Poets are dangerous. You never know what they’ll do,” said co-organizer Dr. John Alberti, who referred to poets’ passionate public readings.

Poetry Against the War planted its roots during the Vietnam War, when many American soldiers returned to find that they were not welcome or appreciated. Soldiers were looking for a way to relate the events of the Vietnam War to citizens who only possessed a vague conception of the truth, Alberti said.

However, this poetic tactic became dormant after the war ended. But according to www.poetsagainstthewar.com, the concept re-emerged in 2003, when a poet Sam Hamill, strongly disagreed with George W. Bush’s plan to attack Iraq; Hamill wanted to “reconstitute a Poets Against the War movement like the one organized to speak out against the war in Vietnam … to speak up for the conscience of our country and lend your names to our petition against this war.”

Thus, NKU faculty, such as Alberti, adopted Hamill’s movement three years ago.

This year’s poetry event is different from the last two years. The key organizers of this event, Alberti, Kris Yohe, and Robert Wallace, sought to do something positive by accepting donations for the Wounded Warrior Project, a program that assists men and women who have been injured in the War in Iraq.

In response to the organization of this event Alberti received three e-mails (from NKU faculty) questioning the validity of this vocal protest.

“The e-mails were not inflammatory in any way and they were written with the utmost civility,” he said.

Nevertheless, Alberti welcomed the e-mail disagreements: “If you speak up, there’s no guarantee it will do any good, but if you don’t speak up at all, you cannot hope to do anything.”

The three organizers agreed the goal of the event is to provide the student body with a message of hope.

“The responsibilities of artists are about healing, to tell the truth and to create something beautiful out of the atrocities of mankind,” Yohe said. “This is about reclaiming our humanity.”

Poetry Against the War begins at 3:15 p.m. in the Otto Budig Theatre and will last until 5 p.m.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Poets to focus on war in Iraq during reading