Gitmo Detainees Turn Poetic
Posted Jun 20, 2007 10:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A Guantanamo defense lawyer with a Ph.D. in English has compiled poems written by detainees that will be published in an 84-page book.
Marc Falkoff, who represents 17 Yemeni prisoners, began the project after two of his clients mailed him poems, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. Falkoff asked other lawyers if their clients were also writing poetry, and he learned the answer was yes.
The military will allow publication of 22 poems by 17 prisoners, despite reservations that the writings could contain coded messages for terrorists. Linguists with security clearances translated from Arabic.
Detainees didn’t get paper or pens until 2003, so they scratched their poems into foam cups or wrote with toothpaste.
Most of the poems openly denounce the United States. "America, you ride on backs of orphans/and terrorize them daily," writes Sami al Haj, a cameraman for al-Jazeera who is suspected of supporting al-Qaida. "Bush, beware./The world recognizes an arrogant liar."
Haj also uses his poetry to express emotions. "When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees/Hot tears covered my face," he writes.