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PEN America Opens Submissions and Nominations for 2021 PEN America Literary Awards

The multiple interconnected crises facing our nation have forced us to reimagine our norms and institutions from the ground up,” said poet and PEN America Trustee Gregory Pardlo. “As individuals and organizations, we have had to call on the ingenuity of our foremothers to ‘make a way out of no way,’ as Zora Neale Hurston puts it, ingenuity that yields opportunity where, previously, there had only been struggle.

PEN America today announced the opening of submissions and nominations for the 2021 PEN America Literary Awards. Publishers and agents can submit books between now and August, and PEN America Members can nominate writers for the organization’s landmark career achievement awards.

Opportunity Knocks For


This year, PEN America announced it has increased the cash purse for the PEN Open Book Award to $10,000. The award is offered annually to a writer of color. It’s meant to challenge the lack of diversity in publishing by championing literary voices that traditionally do not see wide media coverage, encouraging the development of these talented writers, and recognizing the exemplary publishers and small presses who discover, nurture, and publish writers of color. Past winners of the PEN Open Book Award include Claudia Rankine, Meena Alexander, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others.

“The multiple interconnected crises facing our nation have forced us to reimagine our norms and institutions from the ground up,” said poet and PEN America Trustee Gregory Pardlo. “As individuals and organizations, we have had to call on the ingenuity of our foremothers to ‘make a way out of no way,’ as Zora Neale Hurston puts it, ingenuity that yields opportunity where, previously, there had only been struggle. Strategic alterations to the 2021 PEN America Literary Awards demonstrate PEN America’s resourcefulness in pursuit of real structural change. Through the reimagined Literary Awards, PEN America redoubles its commitment to celebrating the talent and voices of the poets and writers most often marginalized by business as usual, and marshals its influence to counter inequities that distort the American literary landscape.”

PEN/Voelcker Award for


The literary and free expression group will also offer a newly reimagined award, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection, for the best poetry collection of the year. In partnership with Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, PEN America will confer an increased cash purse for the 2021 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. PEN America will additionally confer two PEN/Jean Stein Grants for Literary Oral History, with increased cash prizes of $15,000 each.

Director of PEN America’s public programs Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf and the organization’s senior director of literary programs Chip Rolley are available to discuss:

  • The role literary awards play in diversifying the American literary canon;
  • How PEN America’s awards have changed careers over its half-century history;
  • And what PEN America’s enhanced awards program will offer emerging and established writers at a moment of acute financial difficulty for writers nationwide.

The 2020 PEN America Literary Awards, held March 2, conferred some $330,000 of transformative support on writers and translators. Hosted by Late Night’s Seth Meyers, it was the largest ceremony in the Awards program’s 56-year history. Honorees included Yiyun Li, Tom Stoppard, Tanya Barfield, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Rigoberto González, among others.

Click here to learn more about the PEN America Literary Awards.

Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!


For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

I Still Recall . . . and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

Photograph courtesy of Jude Beck, Unsplash

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”  Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

And this being Tuesday, it’s time to share the responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, Hello Nazim . . . Hello, June 10, which invited poets to share memories and thoughts on their fathers. Some share good stories and some share sad experiences, not unlike the world’s populations writ large.  Thanks to Benedicta (Akosua) Boamah, Anjum Wasim Dar, Irma Do,  Irene Emanuel, Joan Leotta, Frank McMahon, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Nancy Ndeke, and Adrian Slonaker for this distinctive and relatable collection  Enjoy! . . .

. . . and do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome: beginning, emerging, and pro poets. This is a safe place to exercise your poetic muscle, to introduce yourself to our community, and to meet other poets who may be new to you.

a stern look
the outer resilence
of a man who instills discipline.

2020, Benedicta (Akosua) Boamah

You can read more of Benedicta’s poetry using the search engine on this site.

Dear Father, if you were alive today

Life would have been so different, I would
have spent a day with you, served you hot tea,

Discussed some aspect of English Language
then played an exciting game of Scrabble with you.

You inspired us all, by your elegant professionalism
I admired you in uniform you honored it so rightly.

Up early getting ready for office, I remember the
sweet smell of lather, the small foamy shaving brush

You would lovingly tease me by touching my cheek
with it, your silver table mirror swinging back from

time to time, and had to be adjusted again and again,
the small mug of warm soapy water, I watched in awe

when you changed the blade after shaving the cheeks
a bit of chin, you respected the beard but never kept it.

I remember the brand name Treet, sharp metallic cutter,
wrapped in yellow and purple, while music played on

Radio Ceylon,Triple 5 cigarette tin stood at attention,
uniform clean pressed stiff, brass pips shining, awaited you

How lovingly and expertly you would treat us in times when
we injured ourselves running and falling, or getting fever,

Your love of music always surprised us in joyful suspense
till the needle of Grundig touched the HMV 75 rpm record,

this reflected the musical moods of the Renaissance. The best
collection was of books,every month from England

“The Companion Book Club”classics arrived. I know all that
reading created the writer in me. Thank you Father, I love you,

miss you, I could write so much more, as there is so much more,
with you in heaven, then I talk to you in silent prayers,

I am fortunate to receive so much affection, care, teachings of
true values of life in this world. Your best lesson was:

“Have a big heart, forgive and relax, always try to do good with
patience and courage, to be alive is a blessing”.

Father,  You were a true soldier, served actively in Burma and Java, experienced a brush with death against the Japanese, a healing doctor of humanity, veteran of WW II, awarded the Burma Star, King George the 6th Queen’s Medal 1950, Royal British Indian Medical Service Medal and Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Service and Indo-Pak War Medal 1965.

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

I Still Recall

I still recall the moments

when I sat up in bed crying

for how long?

I do not know,no one came

for quite some time, perhaps

because it was

in the late hours of night-

I was hardly four or five

playing more and eating less-

I was crying for food

I guess…

and then he was by my side-

Father sat patted and said,

“What’s the matter dear?

is it something that you fear?

Its not the cold nor heat nor pain,

its hunger you need something to eat”.

And so I still feel the taste so sweet

delicious to the root,full juicy was the

tinned mixed fruit.

Father opened the can right there

made me eat with love and care

what else so ready could he get,as

I felt hungry in the middle of the night…

No sooner had I eaten

when all tears were forgotten

I was overtaken by peace

and fell off into a very deep sleep.

Father your love was profound

it sustains me still.

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Da

Anjum-ji’s sites are:

“POETRY PEACE and REFORM Go Together -Let Us All Strive for PEACE on EARTH for ALL -Let Us Make a Better World -WRITE To Make PEACE PREVAIL.” Anjum Wasim Dar


I zero in
On the cracks in the walls
The spaces between the tile and grout
The layer of dust on the grand piano
The peeling Formica under 80’s sought after giveaway cups
The places where your innovative nature took precedence over getting the job done right.

I zero in
On the grays in your hair
And the spots on your hands
The slowness in your cane aided walk
Your mouth agape during your afternoon nap
The hand me up shirt you’ve been wearing for decades because it still fits

I zoom out
And see the humor and kindness in your eyes
The hands that lovingly prepare my favorite meal
The 20 year old bed that fits generations
The clock where time has stopped but happiness lives on
The struggle of remembering and honoring and forgetting and accepting.

I zoom out
And notice what you do without
What you’ve sacrificed
What you’ve preserved
What you’ve done with love
What you’ve done for love.

I zero in on that detail.

© 2020, Irma Do

Irma’s site is: I Do Run, And I do a few other things too . . . 


My heart’s bereft
now you have left this Earth.
Just thoughts of you
to see me through the years.
When last did I
see eye to eye with you?
Your World and mine,
by age and time, were different.

As memories come creeping in,
why, only now, do I begin to see your worth?
How dumb and blind;
how closed my mind to everything of you.
You tried your best,
why did I test your love?
Love and warmth were always there,
I just never gave my share to you.

And now you lie beneath the ground,
my words of love are tightly bound inside me.
So all the times I ever had
to say ” I love you, Dad,” are gone forever.
Too late I’ve woken,
the words unspoken remain unheard.
Why did you go
before I let you know
how much I loved you?

© 2020, Irene Emanuel


He was otherworld;
othertime, otherplace;
he was othertongue;
otherman, otherface.
He was a Polishman;
strongman; bright and aware;
wiseman, everybody’s friend,
busyman, goodman, always there.
He was a workman;
kindman; animal lover.
He was caring and gentle,
adored his kids, worshipped our mother.
He was a sickman;
weakman, fading away,
he lingered on until he died
one glorious bluesky day.
He was Polish Henek, English Henry,
different names and time—–
for me, he was my fatherman,
my dearest Daddy, mine.

© 2020, Irene Emanuel

You may read more of Irene’s poems by using the search engine on this site.

Dreaming Across the Styx

My father walks into my view.
He is in a long, narrow room,
wearing his tan trench coat.
A finely blocked felt hat
tops his jet-black, wavy hair.
He tamps down the tobacco
in his cherry wood pipe, then turns
to me, his brown eyes twinkling.
He steps back into
a poorly lit hallway I do not recognize.
Dad removes his coat and
sits in an orange plastic chair.
Coat on his lap,
he draws softly on the pipe and
nods toward me .
Cherry -flavored tobacco smoke
soothes me.
Dad is waiting for me,
as always.
Through theatre classes
piano lessons, dance lessons.
Patiently enmeshed in his own thoughts,
he waits without complaint.

Suddenly I wake.
I’m at home.
No hallway. No chair.
No cherry tobacco.
Only the smell of coffee.
My father smiles from his photo.
Some say dreaming across the Styx means
Ferryman Charon will soon arrive.

Not for me.

Instead of Charon,
my own beloved father
waits, patiently, to
ferry me across the Styx
in his white 1960 Thunderbird.

First published, Red Wolf Journal, Summer 2014, this is an excerpt from Joan’s collection Languid Lusciousness with Lemon

© 2020, Joan Leotta

Donut Dialog with Dad

Once a month on an

afternoon when my

dad worked night shift,

he’d pull up to my school in

his white Ford Thunderbird

at one, to fly downtown.

so the orthodontist could poke,

prod, and adjust the cacophony of

wires and metal bands

promising to shape

my teeth into a better smile.

By 2:30 it was over.

Dad would check his watch.

“Time for a donut?”

We headed to the swirly counter stools

of the Mayflower Coffee Shop.

Dad ordered coffee, and I hot chocolate.

Sour cream cake donut—

always his choice.

I vacillated between Boston Cream

and vanilla cake with chocolate icing.

One afternoon, after our donuts came,

I poured out a litany of all the day’s

wrongs – friends, studies.

“Why do I need a better smile, if

I have nothing to smile about?”

Dad sipped his coffee quietly.

When I finished, he pointed to the

ceramic mosaic behind the counter

with its iconic poem and read,

“Keep your eye

upon the donut, Joanie,

not upon the hole.”

Words to live by,

not just when eating donuts.

First published in ovunquesiamo spring, 2020

© 2020, Joan Leotta

Joan tells us: “I still miss my father. He passed in 1988.” Joan’s site is: What Editors Want You to Know


Lost, replaced, now traced at last,
my father’s.
Neat cursive script in different hands,
no wasted words:
ships, dates, evaluations,
a carpenter in a world
of steel and water.

Winnipeg2/ chartered once by Pablo Neruda/ to take from France/
Spanish refugees/ and carry them to Chile/
“The critics may erase all of my poetry if they want/
But this poem, that today I remember, nobody will be able to erase”/

Convoy ON-139
A line of life stretched taut
and fear haunts each keel.
Curse/ bless the storm pounding
against the knuckled rivets;
pray that the head grinding
down against the crushing walls,
pray that the head will rise and breathe,
pray that the engines will not fail,
pray you will not be lost
in the ocean’s wrack.
U-443, Wolf Pack Puma.
This line of life, men and cargo,
war, time and water intersect.

49°,51’ North, 27°,58’West
Two sudden blows.
The pictures show a ship in a gentle ocean,
scuppers nearly under water, men in lifeboats.
I magnify and peer, hoping I will see him.

21.48. The line of life, a shipmate
who saw he wasn’t there,
who went below, hefted him
over his shoulder. Four days unconscious.

Only once he talked about what he had seen and heard,
annihilating seas and storms, men burning in oil.

A father discharged from life
with honour.

This is an except from Frank’s debut collection, At the Storm’s Edge, (Palewell Press, London, January 2020)

© 2020, Frank McMahon

At the Storm’s Edge is available through Amazon US HERE and Amazon UK HERE.

..father’s side of the family..

it goes deep. they came from malta. maybe gibralta. they rhyme you see.

it was because of her accent, her size and working in the laundry. sun light

was the name.

she could not say electricity nor mattress i believe. thought it leaked through

the wire.

he was deaf when i found him, could not hear my words, so not the right

answers there, wherever it was.

we wonder , we wander in drifts.

even if we knew the truth, it may be wrong.

for us.

© 2020, Sonja Benskin Mesher


my father told me that he was too deaf for the war

so stayed in britain instead

of fighting

my father said he did not understand my mother’s illness

no one told him beforehand

the incidents

said that the doctor advised his leaving; the desertion

he said that he was there at my brother’s funeral;

stood back

where no one saw him, no one heard him

my father said he was always around if we had needed him,

so i said where?

but he did not hear me.

© 2020, Sonja Benskin Mesher

Sonja’s sites are:

Story in the History of a Man

The name that is also a thing,
What a story in the history of a man,
The man who give me his love wrapped in a name,
Ndeke; loosely translates to Aeroplane,
A bird too, both creatures of flight,
A man married to the soil of his land before a wife,
A man true to the seasons,
Now, firmly rested in the very soil that so amazed his hands,
Every cup of coffee bears memories of this man,
Every bird, every jet and chopper,
A poet melting metaphors of the crops and sweat,
A boon to his brood and provisions,
A legacy of tireless endeavors,
Laughter was a short affair in a grunt,
Discipline came with a stern look and a wave of the head,
When he pointed a finger in admonishment, raised remorseful regret spoke,
For this rough and refined figure of my father,
Led the example with his own ways,
School meant much to him, and rebuke came by way of sample failures,
Never heard a single ” I love you child ” from his tongue,
Yet, never doubted this love withheld verbally,
Only once in my life,
Did I hold my father close to my heart,
A hard time fell on his son,
And age added to great sorrow,
Brought my father to my bossom,
He said nothing, but said everything in that moment,
A year later, he went his sky way,
Now, he lives in my name and bones,
And the wonder of his efforts,
That’s a testimony to this verse.
May all father’s leave something to hold for their children.
I have a name.
And a legacy too.

© 2020, Nancy Ndeke

Nancy Ndeke’s Amazon Page is HERE.

Vinyl Run

In a burgundy Buick LeSabre
stopped before a storefront
stammering “Records! Records! Records!”
waited a professor
with salt-and-pepper hair,
puffing on a pipe
packed with Dutch Masters tobacco,
on a break from weekend yardwork
while his bespectacled kid with brackety braces
lingered inside,
fingering forty-fives and albums and
mulling over which artistes
merited his allowance
and the privilege of spinning on
the stereo supplied
by the chap in the car
watched through a window
by an incredulous clerk who
clucked, “That must be
the world’s most patient man.”
Blushing with shame,
the teen high-tailed it to the till,
swapped crumpled banknotes for
rock ‘n’ roll and
rushed to shower his chauffeur
with contrition and thanks.

© 2020, Adrian Slonaker

You can read more of Adrian’s poetry by using the search feature on this site and on The BeZine.

Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!


For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton


THE BeZine, Vol. 7, Issue 3, June 2020, SustainABILITY

Ultimately, talking points preserve narratives seeking to keep the status quo or create a reality that aligns with the person’s ideology or personal needs. Marshall Shepherd 3 Common Things In Race, Coronavirus And Climate Change Debates, Forbes, June 12 2020

We want to start this introduction to the SustainABILITY issue of The BeZine with a pause and breath.

Go ahead, breathe in deeply. This is both calming and symbolic of the interrelated crises of humanity at this time.

Three huge, potentially shattering issues loom large today, what commentator Elizabeth Sawin, Co-Director of the nonprofit Climate Interactive calls “three massive threats”:

Climate Change, COVID-19, Racism a sustainABILITY pastiche

Climate Change

Climate change concerns the atmosphere and excessive carbon.

Breathe in again, deeply. Breathe out.

That exhalation, as you probably know, is CO2, carbon dioxide. We breathe the atmosphere.

And, as we pollute it, we poison our own breaths through industry, fossil fuels, factory farming, and other human activity. We poison the globe. And as climate change continues its charge ahead in leaps and bounds, it will be increasingly difficult for us to breathe, literally.

Climate Change hits much more than White areas in what Hop Hopkins (“Racism is Killing the Planet,” Sierra Club) calls the “Sacrifice Zones,” where White Supremacy’s “Disposable People” live. The 1% remain more secure and protected.

Have you tried to breathe when the temperatures go above body temperature (37C / 98.6F)? Imagine what it must be like for those locations that have had recent record-breaking temperatures of around 50C / 122F?

Where do you think waste is dumped? Where are polluting industries and power plants built? Who lives in areas that risk their health the most? Certainly not those with money, status, and power in societies.

How long can we continue this way? Are we able to find a path to sustain life on earth (human and otherwise)? That is the goal—sustainABILITY.

From Climate to Pandemic

What we should fear now is a perfect storm: a health, economic and mental health crisis. —Slavoj Zizek (Slavoj Zizek’s ‘Brutal, Dark’ Formula for Saving the World, Haaretz interview, 04 June 2020)

According to a 2015 study published in PNAS, a 30,000 year old virus was found in the permafrost of the Arctic, raising concern that rising temperatures could lead to the rise of deadly, archaic illnesses. —cited in Science Alert (Melting Glaciers Are Revealing Dead Bodies And Ancient Diseases, 23 March 2019).

The economic problems will compel those in power to take actions that before this crisis appeared to be radically leftist measures. Even conservatives are having to do things that run against their principles. —Slavoj Zizek (Slavoj Zizek’s ‘Brutal, Dark’ Formula for Saving the World, Haaretz interview, 04 June 2020)

Climate conditions are classified as top predictors of coronavirus illnesses (Dalziel et al., 2018) as wind speed, humidity, temperature and wind speed are critical in the transmission of infectious diseases (Yuan et al., 2006). Bull (1980) reported that pneumonia’s mortality rate is highly correlated with weather changes. —cited in Correlation between climate indicators and COVID-19 pandemic in New York, USA, (Science Direct 20 April 2020)

Higher temperatures and respiratory problems are also linked. One reason is because higher temperatures contribute to the build-up of harmful air pollutants. —U.S. CDC and American Public Health Association (Extreme Heat Can Affect our Health)


COVID-19 blocks our lungs. It literally stops us from breathing. Yes, also organ damage, including heart problems. But it stops our breath, in a world-wide pandemic. Like the global crisis of climate change will, eventually, stop our breath.

There will be more pandemics with continued Global Warming. There will be more disruption, economic loss, social unrest, and all of the things we have seen so far in this pandemic.

Will we avoid the next pandemic? Could a 30,000 year-old virus, or a 150 year-old virus revive to attack? If so, who will have our back? The government?

How will we be able to sustain human and other life on earth if we continue on this path? Will we build a sustainABLE future for our children, our grandchildren? Ourselves?

In the US, even the current CDC admits that COVID-19 has hit POC and Indigenous Peoples, especially African Americans, harder than White people. The 1% remain more secure and protected.

From Pandemic to Race

The effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minority groups is still emerging; however, current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups. —US CDC (COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups page last reviewed on by CDC June 4 2020)

Robert D. Bullard is a professor at Texas Southern University who has written for more than 30 years about the need to redress environmental racism. He welcomed the statements of support this week from the leaders of big environmental groups but he lamented that the vast amount of donor money still goes to white-led environmental groups.

“I’d like to see these groups start to embrace this whole concept of justice, fairness and equity,” he said. “Those statements need to be followed up with a concerted effort to address the underlying conditions that make for despair.” —(Black Environmentalists Talk About Climate and Anti-Racism, NYTimes, June 2, 2020)

It’s essential to have anti-racism baked into the goals that even white-led organizations are pursuing because both political racism and environmental racism are drivers of our excess pollution and climate denialism. —Heather McGhee, senior fellow at Demos, a nonpartisan research and advocacy group, and the author of a forthcoming book called The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together (cited in Black Environmentalists Talk About Climate and Anti-Racism, NYTimes, June 2, 2020)

Police violence is an aspect of a broader pattern of structural violence, which the climate crisis is a manifestation of. Healing structural violence is actually in the best interest of all human beings. —Sam Grant, executive director of, the Minnesota affiliate of the international climate activist group (cited in Black Environmentalists Talk About Climate and Anti-Racism, NYTimes, June 2, 2020)


Racism has come to the fore with the anti-racist, anti-police-brutality protests and riots since the murder of Floyd George in Minneapolis. His quoted last words, echoing those of Eric Garner (murdered by police in New York City six years ago): “I can’t breathe.” Protest signs and chants have repeated this phrase thousands of times since last month.

Floyd George, a Black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20, was strangled by a police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Eric Garner, a Black man selling loose cigarettes, was strangled by police using a “choke hold.” The 1% remain totally secure and protected.

Structural, systemic racism is an integral part of our extraction economy, according to Hop Hopkins, writing for The Sierra Club. It keeps those in power in power by dividing us against each other—so that the 1% (or 3% or 5% or 10%) can keep in power and grow their wealth. It is built into not only the U.S, but Western Society.

Hopkins writes:

Devaluing Black and Indigenous people’s lives to build wealth for white communities isn’t new. White settlers began that project in the 15th century, when they arrived in North America. Most Native peoples of North America lived in regenerative relationships with the land; they were careful to take no more than the land could sustain. The settlers had another ethic: They sought to dominate and control. —Hop Hopkins (Sierra Club, Racism is Killing the Planet, June 8, 2020)

From “Three Massive Threats” to SustainABILITY

One of the most baffling things throughout the coronavirus pandemic is that even with a life-threatening global pandemic, sides emerged. At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember thinking that this threat to humanity would unify us and strengthen public trust in science. Boy was I wrong. The economic realities of the pandemic, cries of “just the flu”, and protests against social distancing policies tell a different and complex story. —Marshall Shepherd (3 Common Things In Race, Coronavirus And Climate Change Debates, Forbes, June 12 2020)

I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. The answer is for all of us to figure out together.

All I know is that if climate change and environmental injustice are the result of a society that values some lives and not others, then none of us are safe from pollution until all of us are safe from pollution. Dirty air doesn’t stop at the county line, and carbon pollution doesn’t respect national borders. As long as we keep letting the polluters sacrifice Black and brown communities, we can’t protect our shared global climate. —Hop Hopkins (Sierra Club, Racism is Killing the Planet, June 8, 2020)

Today we face threemassive threats, and the only way to neutralize any one of them is to succeed at addressing all three at once.…

…we must as soon as possible – in our cities, states and nations – convene emergency task forces to tackle equity, the pandemic and climate change as an integrated whole. These task forces will need expertise in climate, clean energy, equity, public health, epidemiology and people-centered economics. Each task force should include an additional kind of expertise: the life experience of those who are most impacted by inequity, climate change and COVID-19. Those who live with the impacts of multiple problems often have the most creative ideas about addressing them. Time and money are in short supply. There isn’t enough of either to treat equity, climate change and the current pandemic as separate issues. A holistic, multisolving approach is an effective, cost-saving way to tackle the great challenges of our times. —Elizabeth Sawin (US News & World Report, Commentary, Why We Can’t Ignore the Link Between COVID-19, Climate Change and Inequity, April 1, 2020)

The June Theme of The BeZine: SustainABILITY

We can’t wait. The time to act is now.

We may want to say, “God save us.” But we have free will, so it is up to us to move forward and make the change, so that we are ABLE to sustain the earth.

Then, perhaps 100% of humans (and other life) would be more secure and protected.

—Michael Dickel, Co-Managing Editor

Much thanks to Michael Dickel for stunning and exhaustive editorial collaboration and technical innovations on this issue, to the whole of the Zine team for stalwart efforts and supports, to our readers and supporters who share our peaceable values, and to Margaret Shaw for the wonderful header-art gracing this edition of the Zine. In the spirit of love (respect) and community and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,

—Jamie Dedes, Founding Editor and Co-Managing Editor

Given the scope and magnitude of this sudden crisis [the COVID-19 pandemic], and the long shadow it will cast, can the world afford to pay attention to climate change and the broader sustainability agenda at this time? Our firm belief is that we simply cannot afford to do otherwise.McKinsey & Co., April 7, 2020 Addressing climate change in a post-pandemic world

Table of Contents


“Earth care, as it turns out, is really about self-care and other-care. What we design today impacts how we live tomorrow. For better or for worse, it impacts far into upcoming generations.” L.L. Barkat Earth to Poetry: A 30-Days, 30-Poems Earth, Self, and Other Care Challenge

Dreaming—Poems, Mike Stone Three Haikus, Irma Do Cento, Eric Nicholson A Walk in the Park, Eric Nicholson Let Freedom Ring, An Anti-Deterministic Poem, Linda Chowen Do We Need To?, Munia Khan The Veggie Lady, Adrian Slonakar One Sky, One Earth, Ambily Omanakuttan Tread Softly, Irene Emanuel Tomorrow’s Question, John R. Ehrenfeeld creatures today, Connor Orrico Nature We Failed, Wayne Russell Three Poems, Shoko Cosmas A Series of Haikus, Chris Northrop rootes in solide erthe & 2 other poems, Dennis Formento Côte-Nord, Candice O’Grady Daylighting, Candice O’Grady Migration, Candice O’Grady


“All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.”                      —Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

World’s End or World Without End, Corina Ravenscraft Clothing Production for a Sustainable Earth, John Anstie


“The main thing, Ruby said, was not to get ahead of yourself. Go at a rhythm that could be sustained on and on. Do just as much as you could do and still be able to get up and do again tomorrow. No more, and no less.”                      —Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

In Your Hands, Margaret Read MacDonald


“The environmental movement of the 21st century created a new path to sustainability for cities, the path of wilderness.”                      —Archimedes Muzenda,                      Dystopia: How The Tyranny of Specialists Destroy African Cities

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Art / Photography

“In the end, the term ‘circularity’ may just be one way to make us aware that we need a more encompassing, integrated and restorative sustainability path that includes people as much as technology and nature.”                                                    —Michiel Schwarz A Sustainist Lexicon

Imagined Futures, Images, Noelle Richard Habitat Loss, Eric Nicholson

“..despite myriad differences in beliefs and value systems, people have the capacity to acknowledge that the one constant across the board is the Earth. Her health is our health. Her life is our life.”                      —Heidi Barr, Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth


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We need to stop thinking through a capitalist prism. I don’t agree with those who claim that now is no time for politics, that we should just mobilize to survive these dangers. No! Now is a great time for politics, because the world in its current form is disappearing. Scientists will just tell us, ‘If you want to play it safe, keep this level of quarantine,’ or whatever. But we have a political decision to make, and we are offered different options. Slavoj Zizek Haaretz interview, 04 June 2020 Slavoj Zizek’s ‘Brutal, Dark’ Formula for Saving the World

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On the 31st Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre . . .

A replica of the memorial in the Polish city of Wrocław depicting a destroyed bicycle and a tank track as a symbol of the Tiananmen Square protests. The original was destroyed by Security Service despite the fact that it was after the 1989 elections./ Photograph courtesy of Masur and generously released into the Public Domain.

The Tiananmen Square protests or the Tiananmen Square Incident, commonly known as the June Fourth Incident were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Squarei n Beijing during 1989. The popular national movement inspired by the Beijing protests is sometimes called the ’89 Democracy Movement. The protests started on April 15 and were forcibly suppressed on June 4 when the government declared martial law and sent the military to occupy central parts of Beijing. In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, troops with assault rifles and tanks fired at the demonstrators and those trying to block the military’s advance into Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded. MORE

On June 4th, the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, PEN America announced it will bestow the 2020 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award on Chinese essayist, civil rights activist, and lawyer Xu Zhiyong. Xu, a longtime civil rights leader, was detained February 15 for penning an essay criticizing the leadership of China’s president Xi Jinping, including his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and calling on Xi to resign.

Xu Zhiyong / Photograph courtesy of Shizhao under CC BY 3.0

Xu Zhiyong (b. 1973) is a Chinese civil rights activist and formerly a lecturer at the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications. He was one of the founders of the NGO Open Constitution Initiative and an active rights lawyer in China who helped those underprivileged. He is the main founder and icon of the New Citizens’ Movement in China. In January 2014 he was sentenced to four years in prison for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”. He was detained again on 15 February 2020, in the southern city of Guangzhou.Xu was born in Minquan County, Henan Province.  He is married to Cui Zheng, a journalist. Their daughter was born on January 13, 2014, while Xu was in a detention center facing trial. He had been in hiding since late 2019 and was detained by Chinese police on February 15, 2020.

Xu received his Bachelor of Law degree from Lanzhou University in 1994 and Doctor of Law degree from Peking University in 2002.

Xu is currently being held incommunicado in state custody, and it is widely expected that he will soon be formally charged with “subverting state power,” an offense that carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence. Earlier this spring, PEN America labeled China as the top jailer of writers worldwide based on a global census published in the PEN America 2019 Freedom to Write Index.

The PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, given annually, recognizes an imprisoned writer targeted for the exercise of free expression. Of the forty-seven jailed writers who have received the this honor since 1987, forty-one have been released due in part to the global attention and pressure the Award generates. By conferring the award on Xu, PEN America kickstarts a global campaign for his release.

“Xu Zhiyong has guts,” said Suzanne Nossel, PEN America’s CEO. “His essays have served as calls to conscience at pivotal moments in China’s recent history. The one that resulted in his arrest was a detailed, blistering analysis of President Xi Jinping’s blind spots and shortcomings as a leader, published while COVID-19 still raged in China. His detention forms part of a Chinese government effort to control the global narrative about the outbreak, including by disciplining Chinese doctors and journalists who tried to sound alarm bells and punishing critics of the government response to the pandemic. In his writings, Xu has been a persistent voice calling out Beijing’s intolerance for dissent—and campaigning for social equity, rule of law, and a joyful vision for his country’s future.”

Alongside his human rights advocacy, Xu is well known for his series of online essays concerning contemporary social issues in China. He has written prolifically online on issues including access to fair education, governmental mistreatment and repatriation of migrant workers, corruption, and wasteful government spending. His essays have achieved the status of samizdat-like writing among reform-minded intellectuals and advocates across China. In the essay published just before his detention, entitled “Dear Chairman Xi, It’s Time for You to Go,” Xu wrote: “If you are determined to set yourself against history, you will surely visit disaster upon this country. What China needs above all other things is freedom! Only with freedom will creativity truly flourish and progress be possible.”

“Thirty-one years ago today, Chinese dissidents and activists peacefully protesting to demand greater liberty—including the freedom to speak openly and without fear—were massacred in Tiananmen Square,” said novelist and PEN America’s president Jennifer Egan. “As our own country reels in crisis, citizens peacefully demanding that leaders be held accountable must be protected. We stand in passionate solidarity with those who use language as a tool of protest—in words and writings, and as a spur to mobilize others and drive forward public debate—around the world and here at home. We are proud to honor Xu Zhiyong for his indomitable will to speak the truth in the face of grave danger, and we pledge that his voice will not be silenced, nor his name erased. We will fight on his behalf until he is free.”



PEN America’s 2019 Freedom to Write Index, the organization’s first annual global count of writers and public intellectuals unjustly detained or imprisoned worldwide, found that China held 73 writers and public intellectuals in prison or detention for their writing in 2019—more than any other country.

Traditionally bestowed at PEN America’s annual New York City gala, the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write award kicks off a campaign of advocacy for the awardee’s freedom. Past honorees include Saudi writer-activists Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan (2019); Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (2018, freed in 2019), Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov (2017, freed in 2019), Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji (2016, freed in 2018), Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova (2015, freed in 2016 with continued restrictions on her movement), and Uyghur professor Ilham Tohti (2014).

PEN America’s annual gala is scheduled for December 8, 2020 at the American Museum of Natural History, health and safety permitting.

This post is complied courtesy of PEN America and Wikipedia.

Jamie Dedes:

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