Poetry of Peace

By Rira Abbasi

Rira Abbasi is an Iranian poet, fiction writer and peace activist. Acclaimed as Iran's Lady Poet Laureate, she is the winner of the 2005 Parvin Etesami Poetry Award. She is the founder and has been director of Iran's biennial international festival of peace poetry since 2007.

Poetry in relation to war and peace could be categorized as poetry of war, antiwar poetry and poetry of peace.

Poetry of war is centered on the destruction of life and wealth of others and is usually accompanied by chivalry and creations of epic stories. It is the tool of warmongers, written with the purpose of creating a long line of brave and fearless fighters. Infused with a sense of hardship and sacrifice, it proclaims the defense of honor and country. But where is the honor in assaulting women and children, who are usually the first casualties of war? Such poems, glorifying martyrdom, helped fuel the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq with its copious casualties.

Antiwar poetry attempts to make sense of wars gone past. But after the damage of war has been done, the people, freed from their trance, every dark reality speeding through their minds, do not want to remember the bloody war zones. This is the outcome of war--its profound emptiness and inhumane and conniving character revealed. However, warmongers continue creating epics, the public heroes remaining anonymous and the ones tied to those in power heralded as legends. The ethos of poetry of war is to undermine people's expectations for a normal postwar life.

But intellectuals, poets and free thinkers find opportunities to speak of the ignorance and militaristic culture of those in power. They invite society to take pride through art and literature, wise poets writing poems against the destruction.

Poetry of peace, with its progressive culture and quiet style of objection, slowly and intelligently moves forward. Poetry of peace does not create heroes and epics about brave and fearless people; it discourages all-consuming beliefs, the polarization of differences and the obedience of people. Poetry of peace instills courage, clarity, common sense, imagination and, finally, the strength to awaken justice.

It is necessary to educate governments in accordance with the needs of civil society, and it is the free thinkers of every society who are the connecting loops of this education. Poetry of peace is joy and common sense in the protection of justice and prosperity.

Article translated from Farsi by Fariya Mohammadkhah

زمین سپید می خواند

مادر که می شوی
کلمه ها از عزیزم عزیزم بالا می روند
عزیزترین ها شال وُ کلاه می کنند
و الفبا روی تخته ی سیاه، سفید می نویسد
به خانه که برمی گردی روی در وُ دیوار
سفید بنویس
با مردان به دریا که می روی
روی هر تورِ سیاه
سفید بنویس
با دوست روی هر خاک
سفید بنویس
زمین سپید که می خواند
شادی از برابری برمی خیزد
برف پروانه وار می بارد
زمین عاشقانه به صلح می بالد

The Earth Sings White

When you become a mother
words go beyond dear dear
The dearests wear their hats, their scarves and leave
and the letters of the alphabet on the blackboard write
themselves in white:
When you return home
write in white on the walls, on the doors: Mother
When you go to the sea with the men,
write in white on every black net: Peace
With a friend write in white on every land: Home
When the earth sings light, joy rises from equality
snowflakes fall like butterflies
and the earth takes delight in peace
the earth thrives lovingly on peace

Poem translated from Farsi by Maryam Ala Amjadi