Sunday, February 09, 2014

Hashem Shaabani - Cherish the Poets and Other Heretics

How can we honor the silence, the empty space left after the loss of the Iranian poet, Hashem Shaabani?

An article by David Newhoff in Illusion of More communicates this:

 "....the irony is that when it comes to establishing or maintaining autocratic rule, one must first kill all the poets...

"There’s a reason artists are invariably among the first to be killed or imprisoned by any authority predicated on orthodoxy; and it is the underlying reason why I will never stop writing or speaking about the rights and the value of artists.  Because their work is not just content.  And while we may take the absence of orthodoxy in our own governance for granted, we should not underestimate the social or economic force of artistic diversity for helping it stay that way."

" we debate the subtle and profound ways in which technology changes our world and  our notions of civil liberty, that we are privileged to have this dialogue in relative luxury, with the leisure of academics, and at a safe distance from people who still hang poets."

Shaabani's own words, quoted by several sources:

“I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen."

I found a poem attributed to Shaabani:

Seven Reasons Why I Should Die

For seven days they shouted at me:
You are waging war on Allah!
Saturday, because you are an Arab!
Sunday, well, you are from Ahvaz
Monday, remember you are Iranian
Tuesday: You mock the sacred Revolution
Wednesday, didn’t you raise your voice for others?
Thursday, you are a poet and a bard
Friday: You’re a man, isn’t that enough to die?

Breath, life are gifts tyrants seek to control--and cannot be taken for granted.

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