Could Love and Peace be the Savior of the World?
The year 2017 saw the publication of an excellent anthology entitled NEWS FROM STRASBOURG - Kabar Dari Starsbourg. (A World Peace Poems Anthology Series, edited by Rokiah Hashim and published by Perbadanan Kota Buku, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Does the world need an exclusive anthology promoting peace poems? Obviously this need was felt by one of the leading figures in the Malaysian poetical circles as an internationally recognizable and versatile initiative. Needless to say our world is undergoing a very peculiar period in its whole existence in terms of dealing with human to human, community to community and nation to nation relationship patterns emerging in the face of so-called new Information Society Phase we are now experiencing alongside with generations who have an unprecedented access to a virtual world. This virtual characteristic holds a danger in itself to alienate the youth in particular and the general public in general nowadays to be cut off from their universal and community values, turning them into isolated islands of conscience that might deprive them of a responsible and humane community spirit.
Rokiah Hashim with her sensitivity on the subject worked tirelessly throughout many world congresses of poetry be them in, Peru, Taiwan or Prague to discuss and earn the approval of her fellow poets from all over the world. The idea of coming up with an anthology to give a perspective regarding the ultimate aim of the world poets, to underline the importance and indispensability of peace in our modern world had won the hearts of her fellow colleagues. And then miraculously her prayers were answered and she got the offer from Perbadan Kota Buku based in Kuala Lumpur to publish this anthology digitally or as an E-book. The renown poets from all over the world were asked to contribute to this collection of poems to create poetical awareness about this magic word, peace.
This bilingual (in Bahasa Malaysia and English) anthology contains in total 63 poems of poets from 13 countries. The subjects of the poems are not limited only to peace, the relevant concerns of humanity, love and environment are also among the themes of the poets.
Why the title of the NEWS FROM STRASBOURG? This anthology project was conceived right after Rokiah’s poem inspired by the EU Parliament report about 10.000 Syrian refugees perished while trying to reach the European soil escaping from the conflict zone and few other places in the Middle East and Africa until mid-2016.
Military operations and extremist approaches did not solve the acute problems of the unfortunate spots and communities of the world. On the contrary they exacerbated all the problems existed and created new ones, now even feeding extremism in those troubled zones. All those traumatic experiences, political conflicts, and the lack of peace and stability still affect much of the world population. And poetry seems and proves to be the most effective natural medium to reflect and portray them. Here with the peace poems of the world’s voices we can have our hopes to see the light at the end of the tunnel though this dark hole does not appear a short one at the moment.
And to me the most representing the true character of this anthology, and revealing and pleasing words about the whole work from the epilogue written by Rokiah Hashim reads like this: “…This little anthology unites us and break all dividing walls between us – Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc.”
The 13 poets come from these countries:
Rokiah Hashim: Malaysia
Ernesto Cahan – Argentine
Mohamed Rabie – the US
Istvan Turci – Hungary
Mesut Şenol – Turkey
Bei Ta – China
Samah Sabawi – Australia
Milutin Djurikovic – Kosovo
Jia Rongxiang – China
Fahreddin Shehu – Kosovo
Zhivka Baltadzhieva – Spain/Bulgaria
Moaen Shalabia – Israel
Amin Maher – Iran
In the lines of the poem called News from Strasbourg -2 by Rokiah Hashim you can feel utter disappointment and furiousness for what’s happening:
Close your eyes
That’s normal problems for the Universe
When you have the rich
The poor are around too
When you have strong ones
The weak have to accept
They are not important ones to exist
When wars happened
Death is just a statistic
Ernest Kahan, a Jew from Argentine, on the other hand writes the tragedy of the children regardless of their ethnic or religious origin:
Children of Syria poisoned by gas
Children of Auschwitz, ash and gas,
Hungry children, terminally ill, trapped
Children nameless slaves,
Children, sunless refugees,
Children, you had to be originally from
Muhamed Rabie from the US makes us see the real portrait of the refugees through the lenses of his poems. He writes in this poem entitled Portrait of Refugee exactly like this:
Running running everywhere
From here to there to nowhere
Running night and day
Where to go, where to stay
A displaced, dispossessed refugee
Must flee the war zone and hide
Deprived of home, identity and land
Searching for a hospitable homeland
Holding hand in hand
Young and old are walking
One eye on the road ahead
The other on what was left behind
And I would like to end this article with the ending lines of the poem called Let There Be Word by Kosovan poet Fahreddin Shehu:
Let there be Peace
And Peace alone
for we lack it as a soulless Merchant
lacks a Soul
Could love and peace be the savior of the world? I believe they are the only meaningful humane tools in our armory to fight against wars and cruelty. Whenever humanity faces deep crises in its history, then comes in the legendary human-power to eradicate evil on the surface of the world. We have to cling to the spirit of soft and strong alchemy of our will to live in peace and not to kill one another whereas there is an another option to love and care for each other.
I think this extraordinarily crafted poems in the anthology are awaiting your exploration to see the depth of poetic perception about peace in the world. The poets in the anthology also unearth the sentimental dimension of inclination towards love and peace. It is there in us as a potent potential. So, it’s worth plunging into its pages for a soul-searching journey and go under the skin of the treasured spokespersons of our hearts!!!