pen_american_center_official_logoYesterday,Tuesday, January 24, President Trump issued orders to several federal agencies to cease all communications with Congress, the press, and the public. PEN America decried the orders.

“This action is incompatible with American democratic values of government transparency and the public’s right to know,” PEN America statement

Multiple sources inside the government have told the press that the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health and Human Services, ordered employees to cease external communications, including press releases, blog and social media posts and correspondence with other public officials.

Federal employees have expressed concern that the communications blackouts will impede work, disrupt communication across branches of the government and leave the public in the dark.

“Blanket orders from the Trump Administration preventing the staffs and experts of federal agencies from communicating with the public send a chilling message that every governmental communication, no matter how routine or technical, will now be subject to a political litmus test,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America.

“Federal officials are being cut off from the American public, impairing their work and denying the American citizenry access to necessary information and understanding about the work of our federal government. These blunderbuss and draconian measures infringe upon free expression and the flow of information and ideas, imposing constraints that befit an autocracy, not American democracy. They should be rescinded immediately.” Suzanne Nossel

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. PEN champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. It’s mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Public domain illustration.


Blown Across Timelessness, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

photo-37-1I watched it all over my friend’s dear shoulder,
that time of living while dying and celebrating ~
like a garden snake ~ the shedding of the skin,
the detritus of material man with its hungers and
wild, woody creative soul, sketching ruby-jeweled
memories in sand to be blown like a Tibetan mandala
across Timelessness . . .

while he,

lone monk,


by systems on systems of hospital wiring, billing,
approvals, and laws around funerals and burials,
estates, plans, and proposals for headstones and
the where, when, and how of a memorial service,
the left-overs of his life to be sorted, sold or stashed
or sent to the right people in the right places.


… as though there had been nothing. No one.


There were a number of things on my mind when I wrote this, but one was the dramatic (or so it seemed to me) juxtaposition of the sacred (first stanza) and the material (second stanza).  That juxtaposition seems particularly clear in birth and death but it is also apparent at other points of change and transition – leaving home for the first time, marriage, dealing with catastrophic illness, career or job change and so forth. When in your life was this juxtaposition most profound for you?  Tell us in poem or story; i.e., in  creative nonfiction or in a fictionalized account.  If you feel comfortable, leave the link to your piece in the comments below so I and other readers may read you work.

© 2017, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

51qqbcpwhul-_sx332_bo1204203200_The WordPlay Shop offers a selection of books and tools especially selected for poets and writers … and in some cases, activists. Sales from the shop go to support the maintenance of this site.  Suggested reading this week – a read for these times – is the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber’s The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear

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