The violence in Gaza has taken another torque into anguish and grief. Tal Nitzan, an Israeli poet and pacifist, has written a beautiful open letter to her Palestinian colleague Basem Al-Nabriss, also a poet and peace activist (view here).
Tal posted this letter from Basem Al-Nabriss on facebook:
“The situation is really like Dante’s Inferno.
Little Tal [Basem’s granddaughter] and the entire family are in horror. No-one can sleep but for a few hours. I am in constant contact with them, and I try to give them some hope.
There is massive destruction of homes, unprecedented numbers of casualties, mostly innocent people.
What concerns me now is that we get out of this hell as soon as possible.
Regrettably, I feel that being a writer is futile now. What can words do in the face of this fanatical madness? In the face of burnt flesh?
It must be a nightmare for you too.
I imagine and feel the pain of everyone on both sides.
I wish you safety. Safety for our two peoples, and peace for all.”
I wrote about Tal, and another great poet of peace, Maram Al-Masri, in an earlier essay on arts in dark times. I join all of them in solidarity and love, and invite others to do the same. Tal speaks of the role of prophecy in awakening conscience and the awareness of responsibility. She claims poetry as ‘a rebellious act that unsettles axioms, generates question marks, and asserts the right of readers and writers as one to doubt, protest, and rise up.’ I hope she is remembering her own brave words in this time of terror, for she reminds us that ‘throughout history, literary creations have expressed the forbidden and the revolutionary and have … precipitated’ great changes.