guantanamo via waterloo

Last Thursday evening, along with a few other hardy souls, we braved the bitter weather to listen to a reading of Poems from Guantanamo at the Calder Bookshop, near Waterloo. The book consists of twenty-two poems, written by detainees in Guanatanmo Bay, most of whom are still held there, uncharged yet with little prospect of being released. Poems written in the most unimaginable circumstances, written without any notion that they would ever see the light of day, written from that most basic human need to create, to retain a sense of self and dignity in the face of torture, isolation and despair. Two of the bookshop staff read from the book, with Sergio (I think!) in his orange shirt and ‘239’ badge (detainee Shaker Aamer‘s prisoner number) investing great passion in each of the poems. His colleague then read the Afterword by Ariel Dorfman, an inspiring (and necessarily angry) essay about the power of words – of poetry – to resist tyranny and to bear witness. It was particularly humbling to hear two of the ‘Cup Poems’ – very short poems, composed in the first year when even basic writing materials were denied to the captives, scratched into polystyrene cups and handed from detainee to detainee. These are urgent voices, which must be heard – and, more importantly, released.


3 thoughts on “guantanamo via waterloo

  1. Pat S

    So glad you got to this event. I don’t know how I managed to miss it – maybe the weather but that’s no excuse. Shaker Aamer is now in his 10th year with no prospect of a trial or a release back to his family in Battersea, while a polite exchange of words between William Hague and Hilary Clinton goes on and on…

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