Have you hugged a soldier today?

Yesterday, I received this email:

Dear Linh Dinh,

We are writing with what we hope is an exciting offer: we would like your work to be included in State of the Union, the Wave Books anthology of political poems forthcoming in September 2008. We would very much like to include your poem "Eating Fried Chicken" in the anthology. State of the Union will be comprised of 50 new political works from a wide range of American writers. We feel your poem would make a vital inclusion in this book.

Although we are unable to offer any direct payment for the use of any of the poems in the anthology, Wave Books will donate all royalties to an organization that supports veterans of the war in Iraq. We will provide each poet with five copies of the finished anthology.


With all best wishes,

Wave Books

To which I had no choice but reply:

Hi Wave Books,

I'd gladly let you use my poem in your anthology but I can't, in good conscience, support any royalties going to the idiotic or cynical war criminals of our sick enterprise in Iraq. I have written in an essay:

"In truth, the only difference between a defense contractor and an American GI in Iraq is the size of their paychecks, since both are hired guns, willing to kill for money. What else are they fighting for? Oh yes, for our SUVs, NASCAR, exurban way of life, which is non-negotiable. It's the petroleum, Gomer. Is there no higher purpose?"

Why do we feel compelled to "support the troops" instead of their victims?!




Anonymous said...

Excellent, bravo. I read your entire essay which is fascinating with the stuff about Tony's father and Vietnam. To me what is lost on liberals who want to support Iraq veterans is that, . unlike the Vietnam war, all soldiers fighting in Iraq volunteered.

Anonymous said...

so why did you let them use the poem for the anthology?

Linh Dinh said...

I did not let them use the poem for the anthology. I wrote "I'd... but I can't"

Linh Dinh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linh Dinh said...

In other word, I'm not against the anthology, just where the royalties would go. Since I didn't expect them to change their mind based on my email, I have not given them permission to use my poem. I haven't heard back from them, in any case. I appreciate Wave Books for their invitation, I have nothing against them, but I'm trying to make a bigger point here.

David Lansom said...

I really enjoyed your attack on some soldier. It was like watching a very smart kid at school pick on the slow kid. Whats better is you brag about your picking on of the man and his father or whoever you were talking about, like some righteous, victory drunk... soldier.

There are better ways to
disagree, better battles to chose.

You, Mr. Military-Industrial basher/supporter, became one with this soldier whom you despised. You became him, shooting his door down with your words.

Do you pay taxes Bruiser?
Do you have an auto Bully, ride a bus?
Do you type on a computer? Is it made using the most fair labor practices?
Or do you walk the earth, farming and finding, eating nothing produced by the heat of oil?

Perhaps in protest of the woes of American greed you should give up writing on your beloved Blogosphere, go to Iraq and stand between soldiers and Iraqis?

Does that frighten you?

Do you plant seeds of anything other than anger and contempt?

There are better places for you, angry oppressed human.
Places where you can learn to accept and love.
Places where you would be truly heard.

I hope you find acceptance and love.
I hope your voice be heard from the highest mountains and media outlets.
I hope you find the true source of your anger, and eliminate it.

Linh Dinh said...

David Lansom,

Your comment, sir, is seething with anger, superiority and righteousness. You should look in the mirror once in a while.

Linh Dinh said...
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Linh Dinh said...

David Lansom,

By your logics, the only way to show one's dissent towards the American invasion of Iraq is by placing one's body between American guns and Iraqis. Is that the only way to show one's dissent towards any war? So Bei Dao was a hyprocrite for not standing in front of a tank? Do we need Bei Dao as a poet and a voice of conscience or as a victim? Do we need Martin Luther King's words or is he more useful and more authentic, by your logics, as a corpse? Maybe we don't need poets at all, since all they do is talk and write and never volunteer to stand in front of guns to be shot?

Also, since every American partakes of the loots of Empire, should we all shut up until we can become hunters and gatherers?! Your Fair Trade coffee and everything else in your house were shipped and trucked to the store using diesel field, your food depends on petroleum fertilizers and pesticides, etc., etc., we're all a part of this system no matter where we live, not just in America. The American Empire has taken over the world, FYI. So should we shut up until we can get off the grid?! Even the Unabomber could't quite do that.

David Lansom said...

I am honored that you replied:

Here we are telling each other what each other should do when in fact we sit guilty of the very crimes we despise.

I have taken your suggestion and took a "look" in the mirror. What I see is occasionally discouraging and obnoxiously righteous but at least I look without delusion.

Your argument about poets and victims was accurate, and enlightening. So I retract this question,

"Perhaps in protest of the woes of American greed you should give up writing on your beloved Blogosphere, go to Iraq and stand between soldiers and Iraqis?"

I understand that you, albeit loosely, compare yourself to some great humans with ease, but you have not, at least in your essay, given any feasible plans for fixing the ills you are so willing to bash. Furthermore the subject matter is simplistic and inflammatory, and lacking any artistic flourish.

To summarize your essay:

The Christian Soldier is A Hypocrite!!! His Father a Moron!!!
America Sucks!!!

Where's the solution?

And "Not Quite Symmetry," is excellent, potent...


Linh Dinh said...
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Linh Dinh said...

Hi David,

I don't fancy myself Martin Luther King, Bei Dao or David Lansom, I was only pointing out the absurdity of you suggesting the only way to protest a war is to volunteer to be shot. If you'd reread my article, you'd notice that all the hostility is coming from the crazed father. I tried to listen to him and even befriend him yet to this day, I get violent emails from this unhinged individual. Also, I'm much better looking than Bei Dao, so there's no comparison.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I missed that. Read it as 'I'll' instead of the I would 'let you use it as long as the royalties don't go to veterans'. Which doesn't make sense really, unless you expected them to change the whole anthology for you or somehow make it that just your portion of royalties wouldn't go to soldiers, so, duh.

Good decision on your part, I think.