Thursday, March 31, 2011

100 Thousand Poets for Change Anthology


(Ed. Anny Ballardini & Obododimma Oha, in collaboration with MICHAEL ROTHENBERG)

"We will turn to the idea of the messianic in Chapter Ten of this book, but for the moment it suffices to stress that both Benjamin and Agamben employ the term in singular fashion. For them, a messianic idea of history is not one in which we wait for the Messiah to come, end history, and redeem humanity, but instead is a paradigm for historical time in which we act as though the Messiah is already here, or even has already come and gone. What is so difficult about Agamben's use of the term messianic is how radically it is to be distinguished from the apocalyptic. Agamben says that to understand "messianic time" as it is presented in Paul's letters "one must first distinguish messianic time from apocalyptic time, the time of the now from a time directed towards the future" (LAM, 51). To this he adds, "If l had to try to reduce the distinction to a formula, I would say that the messianic is not, as it is always understood, the end of time, but the time of the end" (LAM, 51). The model of time corresponding to this idea is one that no longer looks for its decisive moment in a more or less remote future, but instead finds it in every minute of every day, in this world and in this life; and it is through such expressions as "dialectics at a standstill" and "means without end" that the two thinkers aim to return our gaze from the distant future to the pressing present."
(from GIORGIO AGAMBEN: A Critical Introduction, Leland de la Durantaye, 2009, p. 120)

Set in the context of this split between "the end of time" and "the time of the end" is Michael Rothenberg's recent invitation for the global writing public to participate in "a demonstration/celebration of poetry to promote serious social and political change" titled 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE on 24 September, 2011. As protests for political reforms sweep across North Africa, the Middle East, in some parts of Europe, in the United States, with the recent disasters in The Gulf of Mexico and in Japan, one cannot help thinking about the "Rothenberg Project” as a highly significant creative response to change as something more than an adjustment to the way social relations are constructed.

Obododimma Oha and Anny Ballardini, in collaboration with Michael Rothenberg’s event, will edit and feature outstanding poetic compositions for the 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE on Fieralingue's Poets’ Corner. Visual artwork, poems, poetic fiction, poetic nonfiction, and photographs to be submitted for consideration should go beyond the simple and gratuitous statement that ‘a change is needed.’ Our present, our Messianic time requires a STILLSTELLUNG (Benjamin’s word) translated by Dennis Redmond in On the Concept of History (1940) with “an objective interruption of a mechanical process” into which we have been engulfed. Dennis Redmond continues in his explanation of STILLSTELLUNG: “rather like the dramatic pause at the end of an action-adventure movie, when the audience is waiting to find out if the time-bomb/missile/terrorist device was defused or not.” We feel that we are living in a similar situation, and we are in need of a Stillstellung followed by ideas to offer our politicians, to make students/friends/our communities more aware of how we can change, revise history, start over again.

Visual works and photographs for submission are to be saved in JPEG format, while texts, which should not have rigid formatting, are to be in Word. All submissions should be emailed to the editors and by September 1, 2011 with "100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE" in the Subject line.

Best wishes,
Obododimma Oha
Anny Ballardini

Ps. If you are interested in signing up to participate as a reader, organizer or attendee, in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event on September 24, 2011, (in your town) please go to Facebook for more details and indicate that you would like to attend the event. Link: . At Facebook you will be able to read more about event organization ideas and our thoughts about “what kind of change.” Over a thousand people have already signed up and over twenty cities have begun to organize events for their communities. JOIN US!!