Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Did anyone catch Larry King Live last night? A large portion of the show was the response of several members of the GOP to Tuesday night's DNC. There was also the tirade of a really, really weird gal named Elizabeth Joyce, who is a member of Just Say No Deal, who repeatedly stated her long term support of Hilary Clinton, while railing about Barack Obama needing "to court [her]vote. I'm a good Catholic girl, I want to be courted; he hasn't done that." She said this at least five times.
When host Larry King responded that since she, the woman in question likes Hilary Clinton, that it made sense she'd support "Hilary Clinton's candidate, Barack Obama.", her voice became tremulous, and filled with emotion. Her eyes sullen, in a dead-stare. Once again, she denied any support for Senator Obama, saying he'd have to "earn" her vote.
In my opinion, this woman was less Hilary-supporter, more infatuated, bat-shit-crazy-stalker-fan.
If ever there was a person on whom Saturday Night Live could base a character, it's this woman. I daresay she's funnier than the female character currently played by Kristen Wiig who constantly one-ups everyone in the room.
But I say, PEACE TO ALL HILARY-SUPPORTERS. It's time to declare a truce, ladies. Please get behind this fellow with whom Hilary agrees, nearly 95% of the time! Because I have supported Senator Barack Obama for a long time now, I certainly understand the Clinton supporters' loyalty. I have loyalty to my candidate, too. But let's not turn loyalty into a caricature of what the political process should be. Let's raise our hands in the air-not with fists clenched, and grim determination-but with palms open, and with a deep breath, a smile on our faces.
Peace, kids.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


TURNING THEIR PAIN, INTO ACTS OF BEAUTY. AND FINDING PEACE.Here's a bit of news that begins in horror, and becomes uplifting:
Pakistan burn victims turn beauticians
By NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Writer

Saira Liaqat squints through her one good eye as she brushes a woman's hair. Her face, most of which the acid melted years ago, occasionally lights up with a smile. Her hands, largely undamaged, deftly handle the dark brown locks.
A few steps away in this popular beauty salon, Urooj Akbar diligently trims, cleans and paints clients' fingernails. Her face, severely scarred from the blaze that burned some 70 percent of her body, is somber. It's hard to tell if she's sad or if it's just the way she now looks.
Liaqat and Akbar are among Pakistan's many female victims of arson and acid attacks. Such tales tend to involve a spurned or crazy lover and end in a life of despair and seclusion for the woman.
The two instead became beauticians.
The women can't escape the mirrors or pictures of glamorous models that surround them, but they consider the salon a second home and a good way to make a living. The two also serve as reminders of that age-old lesson on beauty — a lesson that, needed or not, they learned the hard way.
"Every person wishes that he or she is beautiful," says Liaqat, 21. "But in my view, your face is not everything. Real beauty lies inside a person, not outside."
"They do it because the world demands it," Akbar, 28, says of clients. "For them, it's a necessity. For me, it isn't."
Liaqat and Akbar got into the beauty business in the eastern city of Lahore thanks to the Depilex Smileagain Foundation, an organization devoted to aiding women who have been burned in acid or other attacks.
About five years ago, Masarrat Misbah, head of Pakistan's well-known Depilex salon chain, was leaving work when a veiled woman approached and asked for her help. She was insistent, and soon, a flustered Misbah saw why.
When she removed her veil, Misbah felt faint. "I saw a girl who had no face."
The woman said her husband had thrown acid on her.
Misbah decided to place a small newspaper ad to see if others needed similar assistance.
Forty-two women and girls responded.
Misbah got in touch with Smileagain, an Italian nonprofit that has provided medical services to burn victims in other countries. She sought the help of Pakistani doctors. Perhaps the biggest challenge has been raising money for the cause, in particular to build a special hospital and refuge for burn victims in Pakistan.
Her organization has some 240 registered victims on its help list, 83 of whom are at various stages of treatment.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan found that in 2007, at least 33 women were burned in acid attacks, and 45 were set on fire. But the statistics are likely an undercount, as many cases go unreported for various reasons including out of fear of their attackers, or because the victims can't afford the legal bills.
The victims Misbah has helped need, on average, 25 to 30 surgical procedures over several years, but she soon realized that wasn't enough. Some, especially those who were outcasts in their families, had to be able to support themselves.
To her surprise, several told her they wanted to be beauticians.
"And I felt so sad," Misbah says. "Because beauty is all about faces and beautiful girls and skin."
She helped arrange for 10 women to train in a beauty course in Italy last year. Some have difficulty because their vision is weak or their hands too burned for intricate work. But several, including Liaqat and Akbar, are making their way in the field.
The salon in Lahore is not the usual beauty parlor. There are pictures of beautiful women on the walls — all made up, with perfect, gleaming hair. But then there's a giant poster of a girl with half her face destroyed.
"HELP US bring back a smile to the face of these survivors," it says.
Working for the salon is a dream come true for Liaqat, whose mischievous smile is still intact and frequently on display. As a child she was obsessed with beauty. Once she burned some of her sister's hair off with a makeshift curling iron. She still wears lipstick.
Akbar, the more reserved one, also carries out many administrative and other tasks for the foundation. One of her duties is collecting newspaper clippings about acid and burn attacks on women.
Both say they are treated well by clients and colleagues, but Misbah says some clients have complained.
"They say that when we come to a beauty salon, we come with the expectation that we're going to be relaxed, in a different frame of mind," Misbah says. "If we come here and we see someone who has gone through so much pain and misery, so automatically that gives us that low feeling also. They have a point.
"At the same time, there are clients who take pride in asking these girls to give them a blow-dry, or getting a manicure or pedicure taken from them."
Sometimes they ask what happened.
According to Liaqat and a lawyer for her case, she was married in her teens, on paper, to a relative, but the families had agreed she wouldn't live with him until she finished school. Within months, though, the man started demanding she join him.
One day at the end of July 2003, he showed up at their house with a package. He asked her to get him some water. He followed her to the kitchen, and as she turned around with the water, she says, he doused her with the acid. It seared much of her face, blinded her right eye, and seriously weakened her left one.
Liaqat shakes her head when recalling how a few days before the incident she found a small pimple on her face and threw a fit. After she was burned, her parents at first wouldn't let their daughter look at a mirror. But eventually she saw herself, and she's proud to say she didn't cry.
"Once we had a wedding in the family. I went there and all the girls were getting dressed and putting on makeup. So that time, I felt a pain in my heart," she says. "But I don't want to weaken myself with these thoughts."
Her husband is in prison as the attempted murder case against him proceeds. The two are still legally married.
Akbar says she found herself in an arranged marriage by age 22. Her husband grew increasingly possessive and abusive, she says. The two had a child.
About three years ago, Akbar says, he sprinkled kerosene oil on her as she slept and lit it. A picture taken shortly afterward shows how her face melted onto her shoulders, leaving her with no visible neck.
Akbar has not filed a case against her now ex-husband. She says she'll one day turn to the law, at least to get her daughter back.
Both women were reluctant for The Associated Press to contact their alleged attackers.
Liaqat and Akbar have undergone several surgeries and expect to face more. They say Misbah's foundation was critical to their present well-being.
"Mentally, I am at peace with myself," Akbar says. "The peace of mind I have now, I never had before. I suffered much more mental anguish in my married life."
Bushra Tareen, a regular client of Liaqat's, praises her work.
"I feel that her hands call me again and again," Tareen says. She adds that Liaqat and Akbar remind her of the injustices women face, and their ability to rise above them.
"When I see them, I want to be like them — strong girls," she says.
Liaqat is grateful for having achieved her goal of being a beautician. She worries about her eyesight but is determined to succeed.
"I want to make a name for myself in this profession," she says.
Akbar plans to use her income one day to support her little girl, whom she has barely seen since the attack.
"I'm independent now, I stand on my own two feet," she says. "I have a job, I work, I earn. In fact, I'm living on my own ... which isn't an easy thing to do for a woman in Pakistan, for a lone woman to survive."
Associated Press Writer Manal Ahmad contributed to this report.
On the Net: (Italian only; English version under construction)
Peace, kids.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


This fine little bookstore with the great big heart needs a bit of help. You can make a huge difference, by dropping in to donate a few dollars. The owner, Zachary Steele, has put out a public appeal for monetary donations to keep this bookstore from closing!
I think Wordsmiths' Books is a treasure. The Pride Events held there over Fourth of July weekend were lovely, and I felt right at "home", wandering through the well-placed shelves of books, listening to local musicians, and perusing the great selection of cards and local poets' and author's collections.
This weekend, you can make a difference--indeed, make history, by helping a local businessperson with their business. Not just any business, but a business that brings internationally acclaimed authors, poets, musicians, and chefs/cookbook authors to you, while supporting up-and-coming poets and authors, too!
We NEED Wordsmiths' Books!
Commit to an act of Peace, and come out this weekend, to Wordsmiths' Books, in Decatur. To read more about Wordsmiths', check out my most recent entry at my main blog, complete with letter from the owner, and all the information on donating, at:
Peace, kids.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Peace via Poetry

"Peace goes into the making of a Poet, as Flour goes into the making of Bread."-Pablo Neruda
The quote above reflects the kind of sensibility I hope we all can become more familiar with. That we can make important to us.

Earlier today, I called in to read on The Radio Open Mic for Poetry at
BlogRadio. The host is Rick Lupert, the man behind "The Poetry Super Highway" and its' Poet of the Week feature.
I read "For Aunt Carolyn", and I also spoke about how important poetry is, how we need "communion" with one another. I mentioned the day of Peace I attended(months ago) at a Catholic church, where I listened to members of The Parents' Circle-Families Forum discuss the loss of their family members' to the war in the Middle East. And I shared the name of this blog, as well as my website:
where you can find my blog:
Here's the poem I read:

For Aunt Carolyn

She’s had to photograph bodies
some raped, and
left for dead
others died a quick death in their sleep,
or at the request of some pills,
or on the order
of a stranger’s knife.

I wonder if there have been torsos
bodies with no heads
like the Playboys
she used to collect.
She beheaded those perfect girls
took their heads to the beauty parlors (it was 1965)
and said
Make me look like this
and they did.

I remember the big yard sale
where I peered at perfect torsos
and wondered why it meant so much
to run my hands over their too-full breasts
tanned legs
slim sleek necks
why it felt natural to stare at girls,
who, faceless,
still stare back at me.

Peace, kids.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Please post here, or at:
if you're interested in a workshop on poetry and/or heroes/myth/peace-making at your school, private school, arts center, or house of worship.
Amazingly talented John Stephens(of Theatre Gael, and WorldSong fame, and current Artistic Director of Decatur's Academy Theatre) has a program to best benefit your children!
Peace, kids.