PEACEWRITING ANNOUNCES ITS AWARDS FOR THE BEST UNPUBLISHED BOOKS ABOUT PEACE AND WAR FOR THE YEAR 2002

Now beginning its fifth year, PeaceWriting was established in 1998 to encourage writing about the causes, consequences, and remedies of wars and about nonviolent peacemaking and peacemakers.

Cash prizes are awarded for the best non-fiction manuscript, the best imaginative work, and the best book for young people (no award was given in the youth category this year).

The Awards for 2002:

PHILIP METRES for "Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry in the United States" (literary criticism)

In contrast to other books and anthologies on war poetry, "Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry in the United States, 1940-2000" by Philip Metres grasps as it s original subject lyrical poetry written by noncombatants. The application of Cultures of United States Imperialism by Peace and Kaplan to illuminate the special value of this war poetry has produced an excellent analysis of ‘behind the lines" anti-war poets. The author shows well how these superlative poets dedicated to resisting war expose the dominant national myths and narratives that lead to war, including exceptionalism, nationalism, and imperialism. Two chapters explain incisively how resister poets tried to counter the government’s pro-war propaganda.

Metres examines lyric poets writing about three wars: World War One, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. The poets discussed most completely, in chronological order are Robert Lowell, William Stafford, William Everson (Brother Antoninus), Denise Levertov, John Balaban, June Jordan, and Barrett Watten. In addition, Metres considers the ways in which the publication and circulation of poems through journals and anthologies, particularly during the Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War, contribute to the culture of pacifism and war resistance.

One reader described the book’s strength as the well-written, well-informed "contribution to our knowledge of the wide range of authors who felt compelled to focus on the effects of war and violence on the larger culture."

MARY LEE MORRISON for "The Life of Elise Boulding" (biography)

Elise Boulding is often considered the matriarch of the latter half of the twentieth-century peace research movement. Her writings on the role of the family, women, spirituality and international non-governmental organizations in peace building have offered peace activists and educators new ways of conceiving the tasks inherent in making peace. Her support of the important role of women in peacemaking has created a more public space for the practice of peace by women. Her commitment to networking involved her in the creation of many peacemaking organizations and in the creation of numerous newsletters. All her life’s work led her to efforts to establish cultures of peace, which is the title of her latest book, with close relationships to the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. She has received over 19 awards for her peace work, and she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

Mary Lee Morrison splendidly grasps the wholeness of this great life for peace—young Quaker, wife of fellow great peace scholar and activist, Kenneth Boulding, parent, educator, activist, scholar—through a focus upon her work on educating for peace. As early as 1959, she and her husband Kenneth helped to found the Center for Research on Conflict Resolution at the University of Michigan, the first of its kind in the United States. Today, Boulding continues to live and work for her passion for peace education. Morrison conveys inspiringly Boulding’s hope for a culture of peace.

KEVIN SHAY for "Walking Through the Wall" (memoir)

A journalist from Texas, Shay walked for peace from Dallas to Moscow in 1984-85, "A Walk of the People," and about 600 miles in India in 1987-88. "Walking Through the Wall" is his account of these walks. When in 1984 the nuclear arms race intensified—nuclear arms increasing on both sides and leaders seemingly intransigent--, Shay and others joined together in A Walk of the People to raise awareness of the nuclear danger and to break through the governments’ walls. His journey’s urgent purpose and the stories he tells of individual and official breakthroughs during the march call us today to join the struggle to avert nuclear war.

Almost 500 pages long, "Walking Through the Wall" (the title comes from a passage in Richard Bach’s Illusions) gives both a powerful personal story and an engrossing history.

Why did he make the walks? Not for money, fame, or adventure. He felt in 1984—and his story urges us to feel in 2002 with President Bush canceling the ABM Treaty and Pakistan and India on the brink of war—that "it was time to take some extraordinary action" against the nuclear arms race, when some U. S. leaders were talking of a "winnable" nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Why did he reach such an unusual decision? He was steeped in the words of Thoreau, Krishnamurti, Emerson, Jesus, Confucius, Kennedy, King, Gandhi, and others. He was ready. "To change society," Krishnamurti said, "you must break away from it" with love. In breaking away he stepped into the long history of peace pilgrims. The Preface offers a wonderful summary of his perception of his place in that history.

And then he walks away from Dallas to Moscow (and later to India).

Appendices gives readers backgrounds on key members of A Walk of the People along with letters, a bibliography which reveals Shay’s intellectual roots, and organizations whose values he shares. The appendix on A Walk’s members significantly broadens one’s understanding of the march; the memoir offers a rich introduction to leading advocates for peace at the time. The book also includes an Appendix listing "Marches and Pilgrimages in Modern History" from 1676 to 2001, mainly after WWII.

This year we recognized two works with Honorable Mention Awards:

CAROLYN SCARR for "The Wedding and Other Poems of War and Resistance" (poetry)

From the Gulf War, the sanctions against Iraq, to Vietnam, East Timor, Kosovo, Haiti, Central America, and nuclear weapons, to capital punishment, homelessness, racial injustice, and mental health, these 49 poems cry out forcefully against violence and injustice. A mother in the United States speaks to a mother in Iraq, a Marine chooses conscientious objection, a mother answers her child’s question about what a body bag looks like, a bird in burning Iraq, flags and ribbons patriotism, a hospital emergency waiting room, five generations of women struggle for peace and freedom, mice and the homeless—each poem jolts the reader to think and respond to some aspect or root of violence or callousness. Even "the stones cry out."

TOD SCHNEIDER for "Transcending Violence" (treatise)

Tod Schneider’s "Transcending Violence" offers a wise, comprehensive approach to violence. In Part One, Schneider considers together—interweaves—the roots of violence to give us a "confluence mode" for understanding the complexity of violence. No one factor of violence can explain the widespread violence of our society, but all must be assessed together. This Schneider accomplishes comprehensibly by establishing their shared characteristics and sorting them into "steps" and "reinforcers." In Part Two, Schneider employs his model to show how peace might be achieved: he explains how the interrelated roots of violence, their steps and reinforcers, can be dissassembled, reversed, and eliminated on all social levels. Just as root causes of violence are mutually reinforcing, so are the forces for peace. His book is a major contribution to violence theory. No longer can commentators limit their studies to one or a few perspectives.

One reader states: "’Transcending Violence’ is a good primer" for thinking "both conceptually and tactically about slowly changing our communities from fostering violence to engendering nonviolence."

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