Port Townsend: Poetry reading marks anniversary of literary protest

PORT TOWNSEND — On Feb. 1, 2003, Doris Thurston got up before dawn to call the White House and express her disappointment that a poetry symposium had been canceled for fear it would provide a platform for political protest.

When she couldn’t get through, she sat down and expressed her frustration in a poem, which she titled “Telecommunications, 6:25 a.m.”

On Thursday, Thurston, who turns 80 this month, will present her poem at a reading — one of many that will be held around the world to mark the cancellation of the symposium and creation of a cyberspace soapbox for anti-war literary expression called Poets Against the War.

“We want to acknowledge the Poets Against the War organizations that have sprung up all around the world,” Sam Hamill said.

The founder of Copper Canyon Press, Hamill was the catalyst behind the PAW Web site, which grew from his idea to send anti-war poems to the White House in lieu of attending the symposium.

Three days later, the symposium was canceled, first lady Laura Bush saying it would be inappropriate to turn a literary forum into a political one.

Since then, the Web site he established has attracted 15,300 poems, many of which were presented to Congress last March, and spun off into a book by the same name.


The rest of the story appears in Sunday’s Peninsula Daily News.

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