Categories
Paean To Peace

Recalling Hiroshima & Nagasaki

“I was three years old at the time of the bombing. I don’t remember much, but I do recall that my surroundings turned blindingly white, like a million camera flashes going off at once.

Then, pitch darkness.

I was buried alive under the house, I’ve been told. When my uncle finally found me and pulled my tiny three year old body out from under the debris, I was unconscious. My face was misshapen. He was certain that I was dead..."

-- YASUJIRO TANAKA/ LOCATION: NAGASAKI/DISTANCE FROM HYPOCENTER: 3.4 KM, AFTER THE BOMB, https://time.com/after-the-bomb/
The two atom bombs that ended the Second World War. (1939-1945) Courtesy: Creative Commons

Recalling the incidents of 1945 — when two bombs were dropped in the name of peace destroying towns, populations and a way of life of innocents who had nothing to do with the aggressive invasion of the power-hungry, instilling suffering for generations to come, and justifying the whole incident in the name of peace — should have taught humankind lessons that we would never forget. When I read about the incidents, the horror of these make me shudder. Even the sky changed colours. The Earth grew barren as life on it writhed to an untimely halt, some wounded towards a painful end and some dead. Some of our species suffered  in the most horrific ways. For some death lingered with pain. For others, life lingered with pain —  both emotional and physical. Has that all been forgotten or erased from our minds? 

Given the current global atmosphere, we perhaps most need to pray for peace: peace, to alleviate hunger; peace to be with loved ones; peace to have access to resources at a reasonable price so that all of us can afford to live in comfort. And yet the wars rage…

As we move ahead this year, poetry around war has proliferated in our pages, showing why we need peace. Today, in this issue we bring to you writing that looks for peace as well as our older pieces describing the horrors of the atom bomb in Hiroshima. 

Poetry 

Poetry for Peace by Michael R Burch… Click here to read. 

Oh, Orimen by Manjul Miteri, translated from Nepali by Hem Bishwakarma…Click here to read. 

Commemorating Hiroshima: Poetry by Suzanne Kamata …Click here to read. 

Prose

An interview with nuclear war survivor’s daughter, author Kathleen Burkinshaw, who continues to suffer the aftermath of the Hiroshima blast that only her mother had faced and has written a book, The Last Cherry Blossom, describing the horrors of the war, life before it and after. Click here to read. 

Can Peace come Dropping by... An essay by Candice Louisa Daquin, contextualising the current global issues and exploring peace. Click here to read.

No Nuclear War (1987) by Peter Tosh (1944-87)
Categories
War & Peace

Cry, Our Beloved…

The fakir sings a love song
for peace in times of war.

Can peace be the voice of dissent?

-- Mitali Chakravarty, A Love Song for Peace

With an openly-declared call for nuclear alert blaring in the headlines of newspapers, we bring to you reminders from the past of what hatred and war, nuclear holocausts can do to humanity. Recalling the need for peace and for solidarity with all of the human race, we have here a selection of writing from different parts of the world — people who have been writing for peace even without the war that now darkens our own Earth and further impacts humans, living conditions and the climate.

Here is what climate experts said way back in 2017: “The climatic consequences would be catastrophic: global average temperatures would drop as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) for up to several years — temperatures last seen during the great ice ages. Meanwhile, smoke and dust circulating in the stratosphere would darken the atmosphere enough to inhibit photosynthesis, causing disastrous crop failures, widespread famine and massive ecological disruption.

“The effect would be similar to that of the giant meteor believed to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. This time, we would be the dinosaurs.” How much worse will it be now, five years later while we are already impacted by rising water levels and climate change?

We start our presentation with the past impact of a nuclear blast on humans and nature.

Nuclear Holocaust

Surviving Hiroshima : Kathleen Burkinshaw is the daughter of a woman who survived the Hiroshima blast. Burkinshaw suffers neural damage herself from the impact of the bomb that her parent faced. She has written a book called The Last Cherry Blossom recounting her mother’s first hand experiences. Her novel has been taken up by the United Nations as a part of its peacekeeping effort. She has been actively participating in efforts to ban nuclear weapons, including presenting with Nobel Laureates. Click here to read the interview.

Commemorating Hiroshima: Poetry by Suzanne Kamata that brings to life August 6th and the impact of the bombing on the victims and the devastation around them. Click here to read.

Oh Orimen! A poem in Nepalese about a victim of the blast written by a sculptor, Manjul Miteri, who while working on the largest Asian statue of the Buddha in Japan visited the museum dedicated to the impact of the blast. The poem has been translated to English by Hem Bishwakarma. Click here to read.

Mushroom Clouds: Poetry by Michael Burch that reflects on Enola Gay and the Bikini atoll. Click here to read

Surviving More Wars

Our Children poetry by Bijan Najdi, translated from Persian by Davood Jalili. Click here to read.

How Will They Know by Sybil Pretious commemorates the Remembrance Day that mark the end of the first world war. Click here to read.

Soldiers & Missives Poetry by Prithvijeet Sinha. Click here to read.

In a Land Far From Home: A Bengali in Afghanistan, an excerpt from an account by Syed Mujataba Ali, translated from Bengali by Nazes Afroz. Click here to read.

Unveiling Afghanistan: In Conversation with Nazes Afroz, former editor of BBC and translator of a book on Afghanistan which reflects on the present day crisis. Click here to read.

Bundu, Consoler of the Rich is a story based on memories of the Partition by Nadir Ali, translated from Punjabi by Amna Ali. Click here to read.

Categories
A Special Tribute

Peace in the footsteps of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

The mother of a soldier once told me she did not agree that winning a war was a solution to peaceful living. She said, “If our army kill the enemy, some other mothers lose their sons; some other wives are widowed; some other children lose their fathers…”

Her summation of the war seems like an accurate description of the current day scenario. While politically the bombs that killed 140,000 in Hiroshima and 74000 in Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August respectively(1945), destroyed two cities, ended the Second World War (1939-1945) which claimed a total of 70-85 million lives over six years and led to the celebration of VE Day (Victory Europe Day), can we afford such horrors of violence and annihilation again? This is a question that remains in the grey zone as nuclear non-proliferation looks like agreeing to peace because the terror of war frightens. Will we ever have a world where peace is loved for the sake of what it brings and not for the fear of annihilation?

Writers in this special commemorate the horrors of the atom bomb and write their plea for peace. While American-Japanese writer, Suzanne Kamata, and Manjul Miteri of Nepal explore victimhood, Michael Burch talks of the Enola Gay, the legendary bomber that dropped “Little Boy” and annihilated a whole city. He reflects on the testing that continued on Bikini Island and further to ‘maintain peace’. We also have the words of Kathleen Burkinshaw who continues impacted by this terror — though it was her mother who was the hibakusha or survivor of the bomb blast. We round up this section with Candice Louisa Daquin’s reflections on peace and the reality as it is.

Poetry

Commemorating Hiroshima: Poetry by Suzanne Kamata that brings to life August 6th and the impact of the bombing on the victims and the devastation around them. Click here to read.

Oh Orimen! A poem in Nepalese about a victim of the blast written by a sculptor, Manjul Miteri, who while working on the largest Asian statue of the Buddha in Japan visited the museum dedicated to the impact of the blast. The poem has been translated to English by Hem Bishwakarma. Click here to read.

Mushroom Clouds: Poetry by Michael Burch that reflects on Enola Gay and the Bikini atoll. Click here to read

Prose

Surviving Hiroshima

Kathleen Burkinshaw is the daughter of a woman who survived the Hiroshima blast. Burkinshaw suffers neural damage herself from the impact of the bomb that her parent faced. She has written a book called The Last Cherry Blossom recounting her mother’s first hand experiences. Her novel has been taken up by the United Nations as a part of its peacekeeping effort. She has been actively participating in efforts to ban nuclear weapons, including presenting with Nobel Laureates. Click here to read the interview.

Peace: Is it even Possible?

In the post second world war scenario, Candice Lousia Daquin explores war and peace through history. Is peace possible? Click here to read.

Categories
World Poetry Day, 2021

Celebrating Poetry without Borders

“And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name”

(William Shakespeare, A Midsummer's Night's Dream,1596)

Like clouds float, words waft through currents of ideas and take shapes and forms. We celebrate poetry across the world, across space and time, with the greatest and the new… our homage in words to the past, present and future…

A paean to the skies, the Earth and empathy with nature sets the tone for this poetic treat. I offer you a translation/transcreation of a Tagore song, from the original lyrics penned by the maestro in Bengali…

The Star-Studded Sky  by Rabindranath Tagore

( A translation/transcreation of Akash Bhora, Shurjo Tara, 1924)

The sky replete with sun and stars, the Earth brimming with life,
In the midst of this universe, I have found my abode.
Spellbound by the plenitude, songs awaken in my being. 

The infinite, eternal waves that create planetary tides 
Resonate through the blood coursing in my veins.

As I walk to the woods, I step on the grass. 
Heady perfumes of flowers startle me into a rhapsody.
Benefactions of joy anoint the universe.

I have listened, I have watched, I have poured my life into the Earth.
Through knowing, I have sought the unknown. 
Spellbound by the plenitude, songs awaken in my being. 

(Translated/transcreated by Mitali Chakravarty on behalf of Borderless Journal,2021)

Poetry connects with eternal human emotions over space and time with snippets from old and verses from new.

Poets continue to draw from nature to express and emote. In empathy with the forces that swirl around us are poems written by moderns, like Jared Carter.

 What is that calling on the wind
           that never seems a moment still?
 That moves in darkness like a hand
           of many fingers taken chill?

(Excerpted from Visitant by Jared Carter)

Click here to read Jared Carter’s Visitant and more poems.

Tagore wrote and painted. Here we have a poem about a painting done by the poet-artist herself, Vatsala Radhakeesoon.

An endless expanse swirls
over the tropical island.
At the foot of the Meditative Mountain,
birds, bees and butterflies wonder --
who is this mystic blue?

(Excerpted from Swirling Blues by Vatsala Radhakeesoon)

Click here to read Swirling Blues by Vatsala Radhakeesoon and gaze at the painting.

Separated by oceans and decades, were poets empathetic?

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you...

The smoke of my own breath,...

My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and 
dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.

(Excerpted from Song of Myself, Walt Whitman, 1881)

And despite exuberance of poets and their love of nature, came wars from across continents. Here are some of the responses of poets from all over the world to war and the pain it brings…

A soldier and a poet, Bijan Najdi (1941-1997) wrote in Persian, he captured the loss and the pain generated by war on children for us. This has been translated by Davood Jalili for Borderless

The world does not become bitter with the sword.

It does not become bitter with shooting, cries and fists.

The bitterness of the world

Is not the deer’s necks

And leopard’s tooth

And the death of a fish...

(Excerpted from Our Children by Bijan Najdi)

Click here to read Our Children by Bijan Najdi

Maybe children have a special place in poets’ hearts. Michael R Burch from across the Pacific writes of their longings too…

I, too, have a dream …

that one day Jews and Christians

will see me as I am:

a small child, lonely and afraid,

staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,

(Excerpted from I, too have a dream by Michael R Burch)

Click here to read Dreams of Children by Michael R Burch and more by him.

From Nepal, Manjul Miteri travelled to Japan to design a giant Buddha. While visiting the Hiroshima museum, he responded to the exhibits of the 1945 nuclear blast, a bombardment that ended not just the war, but many lives, many hopes and dreams… It heralded the passing of an era. Miteri’s poem was translated by Hem Biswakarma for us from Nepali.

Orimen*!
Oh, Orimen!
Mouthful of your Tiffin
Snatched by the ‘Little Boy’*!
The Tiffin box, adorned with flowers,
Scattered and spoilt,
Blown out brutally.

(Excerpted from Oh Orimen! by Manjul Miteri)

Click here to read Majul Miteri’s Oh Orimen!

Continuing on the theme of war, what can war weapons not do? Karunakaran has written a seemingly small poem about warplanes in Malayalam that embraces the nuclear holocaust and more. The words are few but they say much… It has been translated by Aditya Shankar for us.

No warplane 
has ever flown like a bird,
has lost way like a bird,
has halted mid-flight reminiscing a bygone aroma.

(Excerpted from No Warplane Has Ever Flown Like A Bird by Karunakaran)

Click here to read No Warplane Has Ever Flown Like A Bird by Karunakaran.

From wars and acquisition of wealth, grew the greed for immortality.

Aditya Shankar writes rebelling against man’s greed, greed that also leads to war.

Through the tube,

the world poured into that room

with news of war and blood.

(Excerpted from Human Immortality Project  by Aditya Shankar)

Click here to read Human Immortality Project by Aditya Shankar.

Continuing the dialogue on discrepancies is a poem written by a visiting professor from Korea. Ihlwha Choi was in Santiniketan and just like Tagore found poetry in Krishnokoli, he found poetry in Nandini…

There was Nandini’s small shop along with fruits' stalls and the bike shop.

Cows passing by would thrust their heads suddenly

Into the shop thatched with bamboo stems....

...There lived a flower-like little girl selling chai near the old house of Poet R. Tagore.

(Excerpted from Nandini by Ihlwha Choi)

Click here to read Nandini by Ihlwha Choi

Poetry is about moods — happiness and sadness, laughter and tears.

Reflecting on multiple themes that mankind jubilates and weeps about is the poetry of John Grey, camping out in Australian outbacks, revelling in the stars and yet empathising with hunger… A few lines from his poem hunger.

Hunger can sing soft but compelling

in the voice of the one who last

provided you with three meals a day.

That’s years ago now.

Hunger has no memory

but it assumes that you do.

(Excerpted from Hunger by John Grey)

Click here to read Camping out, Hunger and more … by John Grey

And now we introduce some laughter. A story-poem by Rhys Hughes, about an alien who likes to be tickled…

“Oh, tickle me under the chin,
   the chin,
 please tickle me
 under the chin.
 It might seem quite fickle
 or even a sin
 to make this request,
 to ask such a thing,
 but I must confess
 that to ease my distress
 there’s nothing so fine
    as a tickle.
 So please tickle me 
 under the chin,
    the chin.
 Tickle me under the chin.” 

(Excerpted from The Tickle Imp by Rhys Hughes)

Click here to read The Tickle Imp by Rhys Hughes

And here is a poem by Tamoha Siddiqui, jubilating the borderless world of friendship.

Yesterday I heard the sound of colourful feet

to Indonesian beats, in the middle of Michigan:

white, black, brown, all were one

pitter-patter paces in a conference hall.

(Excerpted from Birth of an Ally by Tamoha Siddiqui)

Click here to read Tamoha Siddiqui’s Birth of an Ally

We share with you now from the most unusual poetry we have on our site, from a book called Corybantic Fulgours. If you want to know what it means, click here to check it out!

Concluding our oeuvre to jubilate a world without borders, here are lines from a poet who probably has influenced and united majority of writers across the world…another truly universal voice.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
...
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.

Excerpted from TS Eliot's Four Quartets, Burnt Norton(1936)

The poetry of the historic greats are all woven by eternal threads that transcend man made boundaries. They see themselves almost as an extension of the Earth we live. Tagore, Whitman and Eliot write of the universe coursing through their veins. Shakespeare gives the ultimate statement when he brings in the play between imagination and nature to lift the mundane out of the ordinary. With inspiration from all these, may we move into a sphere, where poetry not only moves but also generates visions for a more wholistic and inclusive future.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Poetry

Oh, Orimen!

A Nepali poem by Manjul Miteri: Translated to English by Hem Bishwakarma

Manjul Miteri
Orimen*!
Oh, Orimen!
Mouthful of your Tiffin
Snatched by the ‘Little Boy’*!
The Tiffin box, adorned with flowers,
Scattered and spoilt,
Blown out brutally.
A handful of your young breath
In the silence of Hiroshima Peace Museum,
In the depth of this stillness,
Sobs every day and night,
Cascading incessant tears!

Oh, Orimen!
Blown out
With the hot lethal smoke of the Bomb
In the misfortune of your hunger and thirst.
Looking at your Tiffin box that carries
An unuttered scream,
I feel that
In the nooks and corners of this Earth,
By the tremor of the missiles
Blasted in war celebrations,
Your deformed body
that bears the creviced Earth,
Is postured in peace.

Oh, Orimen!
The war slays 
Countless innocents like you.
The war deletes many opportunities
For innocents like you.
Then,
As your Tiffin box
Stands on the ruins of life
That is destroyed and slain,
War repetitively writes
Histories of triumph and courage!

The war
In the sky, in the cloud, in the air,
In the rays of the sun and the moon,
In the womb of the Earth,
In the surface of the oceans,
Is trying to pen a ballad
Wiping out the existence of life.

We are out to teach,
The scripts of love, life, peace and harmony
Copied from your Tiffin box
To all the guns that merely write death!

With the same avowal,
I have arrived feeling so frantic
From the land of the Buddha, Nepal,
Striding on the roads fired in war,
To bring this message to you.
Sorry, if I have been too late!

*An innocent boy who lost his life in Hiroshima Bombing during WWII.

*A devastating atomic bomb dropped in Japanese city, Hiroshima during WWII.

Manjul Miteri is a  renowned sculptor and poet from Nepal. He is currently working with the biggest sculpture of Gautam Budhha in Asia in Japan. 

Hem Bishwakarma is a translator and poet from Nepal. His works have been published in national and international poetry and literature journals and magazines.

First published in Gorkha Times, edited by Borderless to suit our needs.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL