Taslima Nasreen: Poetry as an act of courage

Publish date:

The last session I was able to attend at last fall's biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival before starting the drive back to Ohio was "Poetry and the Lives of Women." Poets onstage in that intimate tent on a crisp fall morning were Toi Derricotte, Linda Pastan, Anne Waldman, and Taslima Nasreen.

I wasn't aware of Nasreen, her history, or her work before this panel, and I was awestruck at the courage and defiance this unassuming woman seated before me had shown in speaking out through her writing. The participants discussed many issues related to women and poetry, but at times the American poets seemed apologetic discussing their own personal and cultural hurdles as artists. Not that sexism, racism, or any personal challenge of any poet (of either sex) is negated by another poet's persecution. However, in the presence of Nasreen--exiled, with a price on her head--it was difficult for poets and audience members not to say, "Of course, what I went through doesn't even begin to compare, but…"

Last Thursday, Taslima Nasreen was attacked at a public appearance in Hyderabad, India (hat tip to The Poetry Hut for the information--and YouTube provides several videos of the disturbance). What's more, Nasreen was booked by Hyderabad police "for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, language--a charge that can get her two years in prison, if proven."

Take some time to learn more about Taslima Nasreen and to read her poetry; and consider how intensely important poetry can be.


P.S. If you weren't there, or simply want to relive the moment if you were lucky enough to be in the audience at the festival's Friday afternoon "poetry sampler," you can watch a video clip of Taha Muhammed Ali reading his poem "Revenge" thanks to the folks at Dodge.

John B. Thompson | Book Wars

John B. Thompson: On Researching Changes in the Book Publishing Industry

John B. Thompson, author of the new book Book Wars, shares the research that went into his account of how the digital revolution changed publishing for readers and writers.

From Script

Supporting AAPI Storytellers and Tapping into Mythical World Building (From Script)

In this week’s round-up from ScriptMag.com, meet South-East-Asian-American filmmakers and screenwriters, plus interviews with screenwriter Emma Needell and comic book writer/artist Matt Kindt, TV medical advisor Dr. Oren Gottfried, and more!

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a personal essay (also known as the narrative essay) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing, examples of effective personal essays, and more.

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

If your character isn't a trained fighter but the scene calls for a fight, how can you make the scene realistic? Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch has the answers for writers here.

April PAD Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts for the 2021 April PAD Challenge

Find all 30 poetry prompts for the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge in this post.

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic & Adobo, explains how writers can help their main character solve a mystery when they're the prime suspect.

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is not using your spare 15 minutes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, invite an unexpected visitor into your story.

7 Tips for Writing a Near Future Dystopian Novel

7 Tips for Writing a Near-Future Dystopian Novel

In this article, debut author Christina Sweeney-Baird explains how writers can expertly craft a near-future dystopian novel.