Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO)
Poems against war, occupation and for liberation
Words of resistance poured out of El Cocal Restaurant on Friday night. Seventeen poets and spoken word artists filled the room with their expression and were received by over 55 people who joined together on that night. Diversity was the strength of the evening, with poets from all walks of life and experiences coming together under one banner of resistance to war and occupation.
The evening was kicked off with the words of long-time social justice fighter and poet, David Morgan of Veterans Against Nuclear Arms. David read of his experience in Baghdad as an antiwar activist, as well as sharing poems from his youth as a soldier. Following David were Capilano student Aubyn Radar and well-known slam poet Stephanie Lent. Ameena Mayer of Poets Against War took the stage next and launched into a beautiful set with guitar accompaniment. The evening then sped up with hip-hop MC Lyric, followed by freestyle champ Tameem Barakat.
US War Resister Kyle Snyder then shared his poetry, articulating his struggle as an American soldier who has refused to fight. Renowned progressive poet Wayde Compton took the stage at the height of the night, in a room packed full his words broke through the silence and moved the crowd. A musical interlude followed, with Latin-American guitarist and singer Ramon Flores.
A special reading of the late Taum Danberger, introduced by Ivan Drury followed, the words of a downtown eastside poet, friend and social justice fighter were played over the sound system. The evening developed with Mobilization Against War and Occupation member Ernesto Dais reading Latin American poetry in Spanish, with English translation. Dax Be then moved to the stage and quickly hit the audience with powerful and stirring opening antiwar piece. Arabic words filled the room next with Imad reading his poem about struggle and resistance to imperialism. Noah Fine then read a poem from Bud Osborne, who could not be at El Cocal in person, but who asked for a poem of his to be shared. Chicana poetry was then brought to the stage by Manuela Valle, a UBC graduate student and member of Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and Internationally.
Special guest Hadi Ebrahami, the editor of ShahrvandBC, the first and largest Persian publication in BC, came to the stage to read his stirring and moving poetry in Farsi, with English translation read by Ivan Drury, editorial board member of Fire This Time newspaper:
For the last couple of days
Pope John Paul the Second
Has laid down
Across the covers of the newspapers
And his body comes away on the hands of public opinion
About Arafatís passing away
Shakeel Lochan ended the night with a spoken word piece that pierced to the heart of the destruction of war. He perfectly brought the night to an end, with encouragement to all those present to take the words that they had heard and reflect the message to others who could not be there.
Ramon Flores graced the stage for a final time, and roused the crowd off their seats, dancing and joining in singing with him.
The poetry night was organized by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO). It was indeed a wonderful success, full of passion, emotion, hope and struggle. Through the words of many talented artists the struggle of humanity stood on the stage and flowed from the lips of women, of youth, of elders, it flowed in Arabic, in Spanish, in Farsi, it flowed with fervor, rage, anticipation and resistance. Through this night, and many more to come, we can connect our minds and hearts; and in unity, we can continue to fight.