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9/9/01
To the Editors:

I have to confess that if I come across a negative review of one of my books, it is a great relief to find that the reviewer is stupid. Scannell's review is staggering in its so-called analysis. His identification of my politics could not be farther from the mark.

As for poetry, he barely discusses it as an art, nor does he look closely at any poem. He calls me an ideologue, and yet his criticisms are all ideological. And he does indeed misread "Genealogical Rag," as well as other poems. His remarks about the work of other poets equally displays his ignorance of the art of poetry.

More, more.

Robert Mezey
rm014747@pomona.edu

 

9/10/01

Tim Scannell responds to Robert Mezey:

Robert Mezey's fundamentally ideological verse masquerades as poetry, and his letter is the typical tantrum of Liberalism: ad hominem attack and begging-of-the-question. He says, "the reviewer is stupid," and "displays his ignorance of the art of poetry."

Inasmuch as Mezey answered to not one line I cited from his poems, for him to hide behind the word "art" is merely the trait of a dilettante ľa dabbler. Robert, explain this trope: "It's the Angel Maroni, resplendent in gold drag." Robert, tell us about this tone: "The face of Jesus, one side of a flowered bedspread, / False teeth drowning in a glass of water." Finally Robert, explicate the connotation and detonation of this voice: "I'm the king, the pope, the CEO, the chieftain of the clan - / Yes, I'm phallologo, logophallo, Eurocentric Man!" No poetry (that's for certain), but kindly explain your rhetoric!

Mezey's ad hominem attacks are, of course, pathetic (and deserve no response at all).

--Tim Scannell

 

~ . ~ ~

September 13, 2001

My heart goes out to you, and our beloved, beloved New York City.

I was on my way there the day it happened, but we had to land in Halifax in Canada--camping out on the floor of a school gym with about 400 people waiting for air space to open up, and borders too. But all my thoughts are with you and our city.

Tanuja

 

September 17, 2001

I am safely back in London.

This is a terrible terrible situation, and I just want you to know your emails have been a great help. I am feeling very far from home right now. Our entire flight got sent back to England--they said all flights in air at the time it happened had to return to country of origin for a thorough security check before being allowed back. Flights are just beginning to go out again, I think. But it is now Monday, and I don't think I can go back right now. Flights are filling up with people who are trying to get home to America, to get to funerals, to look for loved ones.

I am one of the unbelievably lucky ones who does not have to do that.

Ironically, in some ways I have never been so hopeful about the goodness of (most) people as I am now. We were treated with such kindness in Halifax. They took in 14,000 of us who were stranded and found places for us all to stay that same night. Schools shut down so we could live in them. Students came in and volunteered their time helping people set up internet accounts so they could reach family/read the news. The school and city sucked up the cost of all telephone calls. Local stores donated unbelievable quantities of food, soap, toothpaste. Over 200 families came forth and opened the doors of their homes to anyone who wanted to sleep in a bed, take a shower, or simply share a meal with a family. And everything was done with warmth and gentleness, sad eyes and loving smiles--everything!

The passengers on the flight also all looked out for each other--people with cell phones handed them over to people without so they could contact loved ones, tourists with food items cracked them open and shared with everyone, from boxes of cookies to a Harrod's Christmas pudding, as we were fast running out of food and water while waiting the 9 hours on the runway, and as on the flight back there was no food and water at all. The crew was a pillar of strength under pressure, and the people of Halifax were nothing short of angelic.

We were, in short, surrounded by kindness and grace at the darkest of moments.

And thank God we landed in such friendly territory when the flight got diverted, too--what a relief to have Canada for a neighbor.

Sending you lots and lots of love,

Tanuja [Desai Hidier]

~ ~ ~

Dear People,

I just now got back from a vigil/demonstration/march for peace - beginning at Union Square and marching to Times Square.

Union Square is filled with candles and flowers and writings -- chalk, drawings, paintings, pictures of missing people, with details written down -- one person lists a tattoo, another, an earring, a third speaks about a smile -- really moving, and this more than anything, shows the extent of the loss.

At six, people were already there -- a woman playing taps on a sax; an actor dressed as a preacher, imitating and instructing/home made signs; so many many young people, of all nationalities, and then the older folks, those who were seasoned in the 60's, or who have kept going through the Gulf War, Mumia, and other needs. Mixing and singing, and acting, and one woman painted herself green, and wore a crown. Leaflets, and singing, some chanting -- a lot of hellos, hugging, sharing of water, candles, there was someone there dishing out free food.

It was huge. The march, the walking, up to 23rd Street, then turning left to Sixth Ave - people honking, waving out of windows, some bystanders in stores with tears in their eyes. There was very very little counteryelling -

Islam is not the enemy -- peace is the answer - I love life, screw war -- peace and justice -- no more war - Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) had banners announcing another rally in DC on the 29th / signs were everywhere, and candles, and chanting.

It seemed the march reached from at least 23rd Street to 38th street -- and more. The newspapers write as if there is a hundred percent agreement with the insane policy of war and revenge and the madness of "defending the Homeland"- but there isn't -- and this demonstration -- in the very city where the tragedy happened, should hearten everyone out there. There was so little fear, but no one was reckless. In fact, this weekend there are so many events -- in New York and Brooklyn and other places.

For those who didn't know, or couldn't go, or whatever -- there is some sanity out there, and we are not alone.

Veronica Golos

~ ~ ~

 

My name is Usman Farman. I am Pakistani and I am Muslim. In October, I will turn 22. I graduated from Bentley with a Finance degree last May, and I used to work in Building 7 at the World Trade Center. I had friends and acquaintances who worked in Tower 1 right across from me. Some made it out; some are still unaccounted for. I survived this horrible event. I found out, regardless of who we are or where we come from, we only have each other.

I commute into the city on the train from New Jersey. That morning I was tempted to catch the late one, but told myself I really should get to work on time. When I got to Hoboken at 8:20, I thought about getting something to eat, but decided instead not to stop. I took the PATH train, got to the World Trade Center at 8:40 and was walking into the lobby of Building 7 at 8:45 just as the first plane hit.

Had I taken the late train or gotten a bite to eat, I would have been on the crosswalk at 8:45, caught under a rain of fire and debris. I would be dead.

I heard the first explosion; it didn't register. They were doing construction outside and I thought some scaffolding had fallen. I took the elevator up to my office on the 27th floor. The whole place was empty. There were no alarms, no sprinklers, nothing. Our offices are--or rather, were--on the south side of Building 7. We were close enough to the North Tower that I could literally throw a stone from my window and hit it.

My phone rang. As I told my mother I was leaving, I saw an explosion rip out of Tower 2. I called my friend in Boston, waking her up, and told her to tell everyone I was okay, and that I was leaving. I looked down one last time and saw the square and fountain that I eat lunch in covered in smoldering debris. I was apparently one of the last to leave my building; as I was riding up in the elevator, my co-workers were already making their way down the stairs.

When I evacuated, there was no panic. People were calm and helping each other; a pregnant woman was being carried down the stairwell. I'll spare you the more gruesome details of what I saw, things that no one should ever have to see, and which are beyond human decency to describe. Those are things which will haunt me for the rest of my life. My heart goes out to all who lost their lives that day, and those who survived with the painful reminders of what once was. Acquaintances of mine who made it out of the towers only got out because a thousand people formed a human chain to find their way out of the smoke. Everyone was a hero that day.

We were evacuated to the north side of Building 7, still only a block from the towers. Then, security people told us to go north and not to look back. Five blocks later I stopped and turned around. A thousand of us did, a thousand of us staring in shock as the first tower collapsed. No one could believe it was happening; it is still all too surreal to imagine. The next thing I remember, a dark cloud of glass and debris about fifty stories high came tumbling towards us. I turned around and ran as fast as possible. I didn't realize until days later that the reason I'm still feeling so sore is that I fell down trying to get away.

I was on my back, facing this massive cloud that was approaching. Though it must have been 600 feet off, everything was already dark. I wear a pendant around my neck, inscribed with an Arabic prayer for safety. A Hasidic Jewish man came up to me lying there, took the pendant in his hand, and looked at it. He read the Arabic out loud. Then, with a deep Brooklyn accent, he said, "Brother, if you don't mind, there's a cloud of glass coming at us. Grab my hand. Let's get the hell out of here." He helped me up, and we ran for what seemed like forever without looking back. He was the last person I would ever have thought would help me. If it hadn't been for him, I probably would have been engulfed in shattered glass and debris.

I finally stopped running about twenty blocks away, and looked back in horror as the second tower came crashing down. Fear came over me as I realized that some people had been evacuated to the streets below the towers. No one could have thought those buildings could collapse. We turned north, in shock and disbelief, and began the trek to Midtown. It took me three hours to get to my sister's office at 3rd Avenue and 47th Street. Some streets were completely deserted, completely quiet, no cars, no nothing, just the distant wail of sirens. I managed to call home and say I was okay, and get in touch with co-workers and friends who I had feared were lost.

We got a ride to New Jersey. Looking back as I crossed the George Washington Bridge, I could not see the towers. It had really happened.

As the world continues to reel from this tragedy, people in the streets are lashing out. Not far from my home, a Pakistani woman was run over on purpose as she was crossing the parking lot to put groceries in her car. Her only fault? She had her head covered and was wearing the traditional clothing of my homeland. I am afraid for my family's well-being within our community. My older sister is too scared to take the subway into work now. My 8-year-old sister's school is under lockdown and armed watch by police.

Violence only begets violence, and by lashing out at each other in fear and hatred, we will become no better than the faceless cowards who committed this atrocity. If it hadn't been for that man who helped me get up, I would most likely be in the hospital right now, if not dead. Help came from the least expected place, and goes only to show, that we are all in this together, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. Those are principles that this country was founded on.

Please take a moment to look at the people sitting around you. Friends or strangers, in a time of crisis, you would want the nearest person to help you if you needed it. My help came from a man who I would never have thought would normally even speak to me. Ask yourselves now how you can help those people in New York and Washington. You can donate blood, send clothing, food, money. Funds have been set up in the New York area to help the families of fallen firefighters, policemen, and emergency personnel. The one thing that won't help is if we fight amongst ourselves, because it is then that we are doing exactly what they want us to do, and I know that nobody here wants to do that.

I am Pakistani and I am Muslim, and I too have been victimized by this awful tragedy. The next time you feel angry about it, and perhaps want to retaliate in your own way, please remember these words:

"Brother, if you don't mind, there's a cloud of glass coming at us. Grab my hand. Let's get the hell out of here."

Usman Farman

~ . ~ . ~