Monday, March 30, 2009

Call for National Action for Peace in Afghanistan

From our friends with United for Peace & Justice
(Split This Rock and DC Poets Against the War are long-time members of this national coalition of peace and justice organizations.)

Today, President Barack Obama announced his plans to send another 21,000 troops to Afghanistan: he is girding the nation for a long and costly military occupation there.

While he also made some good statements on increasing diplomacy and economic aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the emphasis is clearly on military operations. Predictably, the Pakistan and Afghan factions of the Taliban are already uniting to oppose our escalation of troops. As the spring fighting season approaches, only one thing is certain -- more death, destruction, and misery in a desperately poor country that has had little respite from war for decades.

Here in the U.S., Obama's escalation in Afghanistan and the continuing occupation of Iraq threaten our nation's urgent economic and domestic agenda. Now is the time for more diplomacy, not more war!

United For Peace and Justice calls for immediate action for peace in Afghanistan. Here are three things you can do:

1) Call the White House today - 202-456-1414
Make sure President Obama knows that you disagree with his plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1414 between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM ET.

2) March with UFPJ on April 4!
Building on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are marching on the anniversary of his historic speech against the war in Vietnam and the anniversary of his assassination. On Saturday, April 4, we are taking our message to Wall Street in NYC: addressing this country's economic crisis must include drastic cuts in military spending and that means ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last thing our country needs is a new quagmire in Afghanistan - it is time to bring the troops home, not send more.

3) Help organize local actions April 6 - 9
Congress will be in recess so this is a perfect time to meet with your representatives while they are home. Actions can also be community or media-focused -- vigils, rallies, public education forums with local speakers, film showings or other events to educate and mobilize support in your community. This is an important time to educate people about Afghanistan and the urgent need to change U.S. policy.

UFPJ calls for the following:

- A halt to the planned escalation of 21,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. We need to bring all our troops home now, not to send more into a country where military solutions have never worked.

- A strong commitment to diplomacy as the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The U.S. must support negotiations already underway among various actors in Afghanistan, and must also engage all countries in the region with a stake in a peaceful Afghanistan. The announcement that Iran will join negotiations over Afghanistan is a positive development. We need to share more cups of tea for negotiating rather than more weapons where military solutions have never worked.*

- A dramatic shift from military spending by the U.S. to funding for Afghan-led humanitarian community development and reconstruction projects to enable Afghan communities to improve daily life for their own people. Our goal is to put an end to U.S. war funding.

Please let us know of the actions you are planning by posting them on the UFPJ calendar.

*The reference is to the work of Greg Mortenson as described in his New York Times #1 best-selling book, 'Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time', by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Help UFPJ continue to do this critical work: Make a donation to UFPJ today.

UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE 212-868-5545PO Box 607; Times Square Station; New York, NY 10108

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti is 90 today!

Read a lovely tribute at the LA Times website:

Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:

And he was also a poet, driven by a sense of both art and political engagement. "Besides molding an image of the poet in the world, he created a poetic form that is at once rhetorically functional and socially vital," the critic Larry Smith wrote. "His work exists as a vital challenge and a living presence to the contemporary artist, as an embodiment of the strong, anticool, compassionate commitment to life in an absurd time."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Contest Deadline Extended to March 23 - Send those poems!

New Deadline for 2009 Split This Rock Poetry Contest: March 23

$1,000 awarded for poems of provocation & witness
Patricia Smith, Judge
NEW Postmark Deadline: March 23, 2009
We've extended the deadline for the 2nd annual Split This Rock poetry contest, to be judged by poet and National Book Award finalist Patricia Smith.
So, if you missed the original deadline, don't panic - just send those poems! And please help us spread the word by posting this notice widely. Thanks!

First place receives $500; 2nd and 3rd place, $250 each.

Winning poems will be published on, and the 1st-place winner will be invited to read winning poem at Split This Rock Poetry Festival, 2010.

$25 entry fee. Proceeds support the next festival (March 10-13, 2010).

Find full details and guidelines online at: