This letter was given to attendees at the Cut Loose the Body reading at American University Museum. Rose Marie Berger, co-editor of the anthology, suggested posting it here to give people some ideas for taking action to stop torture:
We are very grateful that this copy of Cut Loose the Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib Paintings has found its way into your hands.
“Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants,” writes author Umberto Eco, “but also what you imagine might please him, because a bond (this, truly, diabolical) is established between you and him.”
We want the poems in this collection to establish a different kind of bond between you and those who are held without trial and subjected to inhuman interrogation techniques. We invite you to consciously remove your tacit support from the inquisitor and boldly step forward as defender of human decency and the rule of law.
We ask you to do three things: Educate yourself. Talk with others. Act courageously.
Educate Yourself: Write down three questions you have about torture, then look for answers to your questions on these Web sites: The Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccrjustice.org); Amnesty International (web.amnesty.org); Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (www.tassc.org).
Talk with others: Host an evening to read the poems in this book and discuss with others what you’ve learned in the process of developing your questions and seeking answers. (Poets Against War offers tips on how to host a poetry reading at www.poetsagainstthewar.org/createreading.asp.) Consider showing the one hour interview between poet Robert Hass and Fernando Botero about the Abu Ghraib paintings (available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGIa-9vCSto).
Act Courageously: Send a copy of these poems to your local, state, or federal representatives and ask them to explain to you what they are doing to prevent torture in America’s name, what steps they are taking to close the Guantánamo detention camp, and how they are holding the Executive Branch accountable for preventing torture in any form. Include one of Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib paintings with your letter. These can be downloaded from Revista Diner (www.revistadiners.com.co/noticia.php3?nt=24663) and the Marlborough Gallery (www.marlboroughgallery.com/artists/botero/artwork.html).
The true poetry begins where the words of the poems end. Your action in the world is pure poetry.
Rose M. Berger and Joseph Ross
Editors, Cut Loose the Body