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BIPARTISAN SUPPORT for Ukrainian filmmaker’s, Oleg Sentsov, release as hunger strike approached 40 days

Oleg Gennadyevich Sentsov: Ukrainian filmmaker and writer, native of Crimea, best known for his 2011 film Gamer. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea he was arrested in Crimea and convicted to 20 years in jail by Russian court on charges of plotting terrorism acts. The conviction was widely described as fabricated or exaggerated. On 14 May 2018, he went on an open-ended hunger strike protesting the incarceration of 65 Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and demanding their release. (Photo courtesy of Antonymon under CC BY-SA 4.0)

I am currently in the process of working up Sunday Announcements, which will post by end-of-day. Meanwhile, I share this encouraging news. 

In response to the release by two United States Senators—Roger Wicker (R-MI) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)—of their letter to the U.S. president calling on him to urge Vladimir Putin to release unjustly imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker and activist Oleg Sentsov, PEN America Washington Director Thomas O. Melia issued the following statement:

“We are heartened by this bipartisan expression of support for the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, 2017 recipient of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write award. As Sentsov’s hunger strike goes into its 37th day, his health continues to deteriorate in his remote prison north of the Arctic Circle, where he is facing a twenty-year sentence on fabricated charges due to his peaceful opposition to the Russian annexation of his native region of Crimea. We urge President Trump to do as the senators request and call on President Putin to release Sentsov from jail immediately.”


PEN America nonprofit logo courtesy of Mltellman under CC BY-SA 4.0

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. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

glory our broken bodies and the broken gods that haunt our lives, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt


“Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means ‘Glory to the Lord.’ The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist. I say: All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.” Leonard Cohen (b. 1934), Canadian musician, singer/songwriter, poet and novelist

Walkers are lined-up neat by the dining room,
like race horses at the starting gate and the
Asians wear crosses, insured by Christianity.
The Europeans find comfort in Vipassana,
Savor the ironies. Hallelujah. Glory be!

Glory be, Hallelujah; glory our broken bodies
and the broken gods that haunt our lives
Praise in all perfect and fractured Hallelujahs

At three they’re viewing Brokeback Mountain,
but I’m staying in my room, playing Hallelujah!
Compressor humming in the background.
I’m just toking O2, pondering the complexities,
savoring the ironies. Hallelujah. Glory be!

Glory be, Hallelujah, glory the broken bodies
and the broken gods that haunt our lives
Praise in all perfect and fractured Hallelujahs

© 2016, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved


Write a poem in praise of all the hallelujahs, the perfect and the fractured, an affirmation of ultimate faith in life despite the broken places and the ironies.  Share your poem/s or a link to it/them in the comments section below.

All poems shared on theme will be published next Tuesday. Please do NOT email your poem to me or leave it on Facebook. If you do it’s likely I’ll miss it or not see it in time.

IF this is your first time participating in The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at in order to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-).  These will be partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

Deadline:  Monday, June 25 at 8 p.m. PDT.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, sharing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you. This is a discerning nonjudgemental place to connect.

SOLIDARITY: 100,000 Poets (and Artists/Musicians/Friends) for Change, for Raising the Collective Consciousness

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” Elie Wiesel

In 2011, The Bardo Group Beguines (The BeZine and Beguine Again) collected poems and other works that addressed the need for, the desire for, and prospective paths toward peace. We were inspired by a global movement that was founded by poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion called 100,000 Poets for Change.

The following year we connected with that global movement and hosted a virtual 100,000 Poets for Change so that folks from anywhere in the world could participate in this extraordinary event even if they were homebound or if there was no event being hosted in their area. It wasn’t long before drummers, mimes, musicians, artists and clergy joined this global initiative.  Followers and supporters included people who aren’t in the arts but appreciate the power of the arts to raise the collective consciousness and to foster sensible and compassionate action and policy.


This year The BeZine September issue  (September 15) will be devoted to social justice and on Saturday, September 29, we’ll host 100,000 Poets and Friends for Change on The BeZine site in concert with off-line efforts to be sponsored by communities all over the world.

I hope you’ll join us at the Zine in September.

Perhaps you’ll decide to host an event in your town or region. For details on that connect with Michael Rothenberg on Facebook or sign-up HERE.

Here’s a message Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion asked me to post for you earlier today:

“100 Thousand Poets for Change began in 2011. It was an initiative that spread by word of mouth across the globe.

“Poets in nearly 100 countries around the world expressed their outrage at war, ecocide, gender inequality, police brutality and a slew of other issues that were not being addressed. Up to then, poets as a community had been fragmented and silenced by the corporatization of the arts and peer pressure that insisted poetry should not be political, that poetry and art did not matter in changing the world.

“Now, 8 years later, it has been regularly demonstrated that poetry and the rest of the arts are a powerful resource in broadcasting the need for positive change. This could be in a very small part because of the effect of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

“However, I believe that, mostly, there was a paradigm shift in regard to the need for protest and engagement in the world. Many individuals and organizations came to the realization that silence is complicity.

“Today you can hear voices raised against injustice everywhere. It has become part of the curriculum. But sadly, it seems that these voices are not loud enough or strong enough, that although the poetry community has unified in many ways and pushed forward in expressing opposition to injustice, situations have gotten worse.

“War continues and expands, militarization continues and expands, children are gunned down in schools, neo-nazis and white supremacists are emboldened, gender inequality is still the norm, and at this very moment we are witnessing a country that professes to be the most democratic and freest country in the world, the USA, tearing children out of the arms of their parents and putting them in cages as part of their immigration policy.

“My heart is broken.

“Some days, I feel like disconnecting entirely from the horrifying news. I can hardly stand to hear it any longer. But then there are the poets and artists who keep up the fight, who continue to speak out, the beautiful souls who refuse to be broken, and go on against all odds.

“So I go on.

“September 29 is the next global 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day. I am convinced this is an initiative worth continuing. Poets and artists must continue to rally and bond, connect, create and speak out in unison against the daily horrors. For each other and for our very own sanity, we must continue and grow.

“The 100 Thousand Poets for Change initiative saves me and keeps me focused and sane.

“I invite you to join hundreds, maybe hundreds of thousands, of other poets globally on this day, September 29, to gather and unify. If you can’t organize on September 29, pick any other day in September or October and let me know where and when you will organize.

“I will spread word of your event to the global poetry community for change, and together we can be empowered to re-write the narrative of civilization to a sustainable alternative. There is strength in numbers. Together we can raise our voices for peace.

“We can do this!”

Love, Michael and Terri, 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

“Scaffold” . . . and other Responses to Wednesday Writing Prompt

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.” Ursula K. Le Guin

These responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, the lesser being of a lesser god, June 13 certainly take us through time and geography, touch lightly or deeply on theme, all while warming our hearts and spinning our minds along the way.  Enjoy! and Thanks! to Paul Brookes, Irene Emanuel, Sonja Benskin Mesher and Marta Pombo Salés. These poets seem always up for a challenge.

Thanks also and a warm welcome to The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt to Debbie Felio, Carol Mikoda and Anne G. Myles, accomplished writers all.  Debbie’s work was featured before on The Poet by Day but not for Wednesday Writing Prompt, so here she is introduced in this context.

Join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome to share their work on theme.

Least of These

I find myself
in losing self
amid the grander
moments in creation

for why would I
settle as the larger
of the lesser
among so little

grant me the serenity
to seek the enormity
of a great God’s creativity

lesser me at the edge
of Grand Canyon’s
cragged colors

lesser me in the depths
and breadths
of roaring oceans

lesser me in the wonders
of rainbows and cloud banks
snowstorms and tornados

lesser me counted
as one of millions
stars and galaxies

never am I so grand
as when the Grandest
includes in His resume
the lesser me.

© 2018, Deb Felio

Debbie Felio

DEBBIE FELIO is a poet/witness living and writing in Boulder, Colorado



Death’s Immensity

Stand next to one wall, let’s say
the north side, of a massive
building. Look up into the
sky, noticing only a
few puffs of clouds. Sweep your eyes
back down, catching sight of this
wall — gray, smooth, unending — and

recall it.

Instantly, the personal fantasy of
existence disintegrates,
leaving only wisps. Lungs


breath sucked away.
Only flatness,
a loss of all
color and detail.
Once again,
know Death
and be


© 2018, Carol Mikoda

Carol Mikoda

CAROL MIKODA teaches writing and new teachers in upstate New York. She lives in the country where she walks in the woods, studies the sky to photograph clouds, and grows vegetables and flowers. She also sings and plays piano, guitar, and bass. Although she enjoys travel, her cat, Zen Li Shou, would rather she stayed home.



For Mary Dyer, Quaker martyr, d. 1660


The only woman to be taken to the scaffold twice.

In October, you watched your friends drop,

then they let you go. In May you came back

and the second time it was for real.

Both times they marched you the last mile

flanked by soldiers, drummers, ministers —

the charivari of execution. You said

It is the greatest joy I can enjoy in this world.


I hunt online to see what you saw before you,

gaze lifted, sure and unrepentant:

the raw wood architecture of terror

set up on Boston Neck,

a strange delicacy in it perhaps;

its silence, its certainty, full stop.

The light that was the frailest metaphor

pouring through the noose.


Scaffolding, as educators call it,

means how you model or demonstrate

the way to solve a problem,

how you build on students’ experiences

adding support, until in time

they can do it for themselves.


When the terror of the present gripped me

I wanted to write your story,

attempt to interweave it with my own,

tell what happened while it was possible.

By the time I reached the end, I hoped

(though I no longer believed what you did

as I’d tried to many years ago

and it almost crushed me)

you would teach me to be brave.


Before they led imaginary

John Proctor to the scaffold,

before he thought better of it,

before he chose the honor of his name,

he bellowed in desire

I want my life!


The poet said in workshop:

The scaffolding of a poem is its skeleton.

Consider the poem as a body;

what’s keeping it upright?

What are the rules that keep it alive,

that build its world?


I couldn’t help but smile.

I saw that after all it was this I got:

in middle age as you were,

you helped bring me back to poetry

and left me there, lesser, grateful,

heart pounding with desire

to walk and keep on walking

in my own recovered light.

© 2018, Anne G. Myles

ANNE G. MYLES, originally from the east coast, and now  Associate Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, specializing in early American literature. You can find some of my earlier academic thoughts about Mary Dyer in her Wikipedia entry, as I recently learned to my surprise. I have been drawn back to my lost origins in creative writing in the past year or so, and poetry (the form in which I was trained) even more recently, including but not limited to working on a series of Mary Dyer poems. I hope to begin sending work out soon. I have a blog about matters related to my recovering my creative voice at “How public — like a Blog –,”


My god is

Imperfect, a perfect image for me.
Humbled by its mistakes.

My god is a mistake.
A wrong answer,

Differently abled.
Its winters often in spring.

Its summers sometime in autumn.
My god is a fracture, a flaw.

Gender fluid. Defined by its
Inhumanity, it is complete

in its incompleteness. Aspires
not to aspire. My god is contradiction,

counter intuitive. Fresh in its decay.
Its more is always less. Thank god.

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration * History * Imagination)

Gust Is Deaf, Hills Are Blind,


trees can’t walk properly,
Flowers twitch haphazardly.

Grass is mute, rivers are dumb.
Nature is differently abled.

Mountains are too tall,
struggle to talk when they can’t

bend a knee, get down to those smaller
who are in awe when all mountains need

is to speak face to face , dispel their myth.
Same with water that rushes by,

no time to stand and stare, moments pass
before they have time to fully comprehend.

Flux needs a still moment but has to go on.
Still waters wish they could rush.

All hankers after what it Is not,
Cannot accept their place as their lot.

Never before, nor ever again
will there be such a special night;
the night a possum stopped at my feet
and allowed my touch without fright.
Glancing round the purple-black,
I saw a wondrous sight;
sparkle-threads of countless stars
roped round the Milky Way;
back-dropped moon-beams
filigreed in shining silver ray.
Thrilled beyond coherent thought,
I blended with this dream
and optically imprinted
that empyreal starry scene.
Cradle Mountain calls to me,
with haunting “siren” powers;
“come back and stay,
you’ll be entranced,
your life forever ours.”

© 2018, Irene Emanuel

. the robe.


kept in a box, precious.

lifted down for those to see,
that care.

did the understanding come,
the idea that all old things
are wanted, needed for their story.

not discarded on higher ground,
where dust and moth abound.

the lesser garment became prefered,
as the last shall become the first.

we shall look at the photographs.

© 2018, Sonja Benskin Mesher (poetry and illustration below)



.. bad night dreaming ..


dreamed of devastation,           flew miles        low

over concrete .   skeletons,      bones of the thing.


all is dust, as dust we have become.                 slow.


grey.    nothing moves here no more.          no sighs.


they have forgotten us.        we have forgotten them.


are we  now the bones of what we were?


bad night dreaming.


© 2018, Sonja Benskin Mesher


Llac de Banyoles copy


With ebbs and flows
like sea and lake waters
the ground was trembling,
magnificent earthquake
confidence was at stake.
Wanted to do your best
so never felt at rest
you are too self-demanding
so confidence faded.
Too much self-exigency
leave me please, let me be
tell it now.
That parent, sister, brother,
that relative of yours
or that good friend or lover
if not, the teacher you had
someone said: great, keep up
or someone said, instead,
I think you have no talent
you will not earn a living
you are now wasting your time.
Your confidence fluctuating.
Ghosts of self-exigency
ghosts of negative people
let them vanish.
Hateful comparisons,
like storms amid the sea
till everything seems awash,
like strong winds on Earth
till each house looks swept,
mercilessly taken.
What light dwells in your soul
what thoughts in your mind
this is not to be disregarded,
disrespected or dismissed.
From your uniqueness, your creation
comes as a true revelation.
Let the ghosts of comparison
fade away from the sea
from the land you inhabit.
As the sun shines on you
so will confidence.

© 2018, Marta Pombo Sallés (Moments)