So over the weekend, Dayton held its annual Literary Peace Prize Event. For those of you not in the know, the DLPP is the ONLY internationally-awarded prize of its kind. Created to celebrate Dayton’s historic Peace Accords and to maintain the Gem City’s connection with peace, the DLPP is a big draw and brings authors, activists and artists from around the world to celebrate.
This year, my motley crew and I in the Robert Dizney Writing Center put together a little celebration of our own. On Thursday last, we held a Writing for Peace event designed to complement the DLPP event. Those who attended had a chance to hear local authors read their work created around the theme of (wait for it) “peace.”
I was blown away by the quality of the work we received, and it looks like we’ll be expanding this event next year to include other nearby universities. Overall, I think Dayton is very lucky to have the excellent authors and poets it possesses scattered throughout the local countryside.
Of course, they also have ME, an item that falls into the “plus” or “minus” column depending on how well you know me (or don’t). My submission, entitled “La Paz,” is below; by way of preface I’d like to say that humans have a longstanding habit of giving names to things that mirror our desires (including the nigh-universal giving of names involving “love,” “peace,” and hope” to our cities), but inevitably irony comes to call and we find ourselves wondering if it is the angel or the ape in our peculiar mix that calls the shots.
That said, here is my small contribution. As always, your thoughts are both welcomed and encouraged, my friends.
Someday, I will go to Bolivia.
I will stand in the shadow
of snow-capped Illimani.
I’ll take great gasps of
the thin, dry air; I’ll listen
In Quechua, Aymara,
Guarani and the unnamed
common language of human despair.
Trying to ignore
the tattered, grey-faced phantom
of Che Guevara,
I’ll pick my way across
arid earth soaked to ebon
by blood, by smoke, by tears.
Perhaps I will pause
in the Prado, one hand raised
as thin shelter from the fierce midday sun,
And on the brisk mountain wind
I’ll feel the touch of Nuestra Señora,
As I contemplate
the treasures we define by
the things they – and we – are not.