Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Moledro…and the Power of Poetry

You can also read my article at The Huffington Post

Moledro (n). a feeling of resonant connection with an author or artist you’ll never meet, who may have lived centuries ago and thousands of miles away but can still get inside your head…

Moledro is the name of my literary magazine, which has released three online issues and has published poets, writers, and artists from countries across the globe. I started Moledro Magazine in November 2015, as a small project that would probably be confined to my new school. However, it has grown tremendously since then, and consists of a team of committed high school and college students. I had even decided to add a separate section in Issue 3, on the theme ‘The Shadows Stalking Society’. I’ve always believed in the power of words in initiating social change; this belief was heightened after reading the wonderful poems I had received for Issues 1 and 2.

I suppose the greatest virtue of poetry is its accessibility. As long as one understands the nuances of a language, nothing can stop him or her from grasping the true meaning of a poem. Reading and understanding a poem is a wonderful way of emotionally connecting with a social issue. I distinctly remember a time when poetry opened new avenues to global and cultural awareness in my life. I had heard about an international, human rights poetry award organized by the Universal Human Rights Student Network in 2015, which aimed to raise awareness about the plight of European refugees and their fundamental rights as humans. As a teenager living a rather sheltered life, I would be unable to actually empathize with European refugees. Although I’ve read news articles and watched videos, they only provide me with a statistical indication of what is really happening. So, I eagerly waited for the winning poems to be posted on the UHRSN website—and was rewarded when they were. The poignant voices of people who had been refugees, whose family members had been refugees, and social activists hoping to mitigate this issue rang out loud and true. Reading about the young Aylan Kurdi on online newspapers let me know about the issue; but reading a passionate poem about him, and about how fortunate most of us are, really brought the pain of the refugees to life. There was one poem that touched me in particular: “For Aylan”, by Laura Taylor. It started off like this: “I just wanted you to know

your lovely bones have not been wasted […]”.

In a particularly intriguing article published in The Huffington Post, Tammara Fort talks about the prevalence of human trafficking—and how Sarita Callender, a victim of international trafficking, used poetry as her means of speaking up. Sarita’s poem, “Fus Ro Dah”, aims at breaking the stereotypes surrounding modern-day slavery. Moreover, it expresses the agony and horrors of trafficking, and how it can happen to absolutely anyone. I have been exposed to numerous books and articles regarding modern slavery. And yet, it was this concise poem that left a perceptible mark on my memory. Perhaps because a haunting poem is impossible to forget, or because its simple, honest words can be understood by all. Here are a few lines, which vividly describe the horrors of human trafficking 5:

I am woman torn from home, from all that was known.

I was a child in innocence, lost at their hands.
I was mother, sister, daughter, cousin, friend .... all gone.
But through it all I never gave up.

Furthermore, this incredible poem induces other victims to speak up against the atrocities they’ve been forced to accept. Its language is simple, yet inspirational—and has the ability to let a sheltered person stand in the shoes of another, physically distant person. It helps raise awareness about an incredibly serious and widespread occurrence, which is the most crucial step to initiating social change. Its straightforward language unites people across the globe—which is, after all, what poetry is all about. 

I would like to end this post by quoting a poem I read several years ago, sent to me by my grandfather. It was the poem that exposed me to the resentment Africans experience regarding racism. In fact, it was probably the poem that cemented my love for poetry—and made me realize that poetry is synonymous with social change. This is a poem written by an African child; it was nominated the best poem of 2005 by the UN:

When I born, I black
When I grow up, I black
When I go in Sun, I black
When I scared, I black
When I sick, I black
And when I die, I still black

And you white fellow
When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white
When you go in sun, you red
When you cold, you blue
When you scared, you yellow
When you sick, you green
And when you die, you gray

And you calling me colored? 

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