Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Christal Ann Rice Cooper
Christal Ann Rice Cooper March 2017

Thursday, September 11, 2014

PART ONE 9/11: The Artistic & Spiritual Experience


Christal Cooper 



PART TWO:  An Online Illustrated Anthology: 9/11: The Artistic & Spiritual Experience



An Online Illustrated Anthology: 

9/11:  The Artistic & Spiritual Experience
Part One

37 individuals from across the globe were asked two questions:  1.  What is your personal experience of 9/11? (and) 2. How did 9/11 influence your art and/or your faith?  
     Their responses, photos, and examples of their artwork and/or symbols of their spirituality are included in this blog post.         


MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI
OPAL PALMER ADISA
MAX ELLIOT ANDERSON
        NIGEL BEALE
PJAY BOEVING
CHARLES CLIFFORD BROOKS III
PATRICIA CHIAPPA
LORRAINE CIPRIANO
CHRISTI COCHRELL
J.M. CORNWELL
ROBERT CRAVEN
CURTIS L CRISLER
LYNN DOMINA
TONY D’SOUZA
        ALEXIS RHONE FANCHER
LEWIS GORDON
ROBERT GRAY
NATALIE MOTES GRIFFIN
CRISTINE A GRUBER
KAREN HEAD
SHONDRA JEPPERSON
JENNIFER JUNEAU
MARILYN KALLET
TAMARA LINSE
JENNIFER COLELLA MARTELLI
JOE MILFORD
PAULETTE MOORE
THYLIAS MOSS
ANSTED MOSS
TIMOTHY SCHMALZ
ANYA SILVER
RAM KRISHNA SING
CARLOS SOLIS
SUSANNE SWANSON-BERNARD
STEVE WICKHAM
SCOTT WILKERSON
BOBBY R WOODALL 




***  

MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI

Poet
Topanga, California



I Actually Believe Them When They Say That

It was early, the same year my mother died.
We woke to someone yelling in the alley
about a gas main, and we leaned
out the low window in our apartment
to ask what had happened.
Jeff said there had been an accident.
We dragged out the black and white portable,
stashed in the closet for emergencies
and fussed with the antenna and dial.
There was a plane, American Airlines, and another.
We saw the steeples, the barricades, the spires,
the battlements. Neighbors were now congregating
on Speedway below, and talking loudly about flight patterns
and falling debris. The Boardwalk was just stirring,
with its vendors setting up card tables, unpacking
cube trucks and stretching orange banners across the wet
parking lot. Every once in a while someone would
stop and point at the clouds. I was looking for shoes,
about to head to Downtown for work, when Charles said,
“You are not going. Let them know.” I made tea and
we watched more, whatever more we could see on the one
local channel. Later, we phoned Richie Rich and Henry
in Manhattan, feeling sure they were far enough
away, but not
certain. All circuits were busy.
No one answered. The sky
around us filled with smolder, filled with boiling
and burns and impossibility.

                                         Thornton Towers in Venice Beach, California
                                         Attributed to Pegarty Long

Where was I when 9-11 happened?
       I was living in Venice, CA, in a 375 square foot, rent-control beach apartment called Thornton Towers, when 9-11 happened. On the West Coast, it was early morning. At the time I was working on the 26th floor in Downtown, on a “day job” project as a technical writer for British Petroleum, writing training manuals for a software application meant to track employees’ time. Although it was nothing like THE World Trade Center in NYC, the BP building was next door to the Los Angeles version of a “World Trade Center,” and on the roof of the BP building, there was a large green target, their logo at the time. 


                     Thornton Towers in Venice Beach, California
                              Attributed to Pegarty Long

      When I decided not to go into work, there were two more planes heading for the West Coast, out of Boston, the newscaster said. For so long, no one was sure of anything and all stories were suspect.



OPAL PALMER ADISA
Poet, Novelist, Performance Artist, and Educator
Frederiksted, U.S. Virgin Islands



I was getting ready to teach when my cousin called and I flipped on the TV.  I was alone.  My children were with their father.



I thought I was watching a movie. I was scared and numbed and dumbfounded. I sat on the edge of the bed and could not move or talk for several minutes.
I managed to get myself to together and  got to California College of the Arts where I had a Writing 2 class.  I asked students if they had heard what happened.  We turned on the TV in the classroom.  I was surprised at students' responses.  Many of the students wanted retribution, or an eye-for-an-eye kind of justice...I tried to talk of our complicity. All the bombings we have been doing to others.  The need for clear thinking and justice...I could not imagine what would come next.



I had lots of relatives and friends in New York...a cousin who worked near the World Trade...Lots of calls and connecting.  I wrote poems that got published in various magazines.  I read poetry. Many Jamaicans worked in that building and lost their lives, but their stories were never told...



In some of my published works I gave them voice in a poem entitled, "Last Thoughts 9/11 Voice” in the anthology, An Eye For an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind edited by Allen Cohen & Clive Matson.





MAX ELLIOT ANDERSON
Writer
Rockford, Illinois
Hard to believe, but this year will be the 15th anniversary since 9 / 11. During that time, an entire generation has come along. I was working at my computer when the news flashed on the TV behind me. I write adventures and mysteries for middle grade readers 8 - 13. I also speak in schools. What I discovered was, when asked, most of  these students knew little or nothing about what happened that day.



That’s why I decide to write an exciting book, When the Lights Go Out, which incorporates what happened on 9 / 11 for this age group. The dedication to this book reads, “To the memory of 9/ 11, and the people who lost their lives that day, so we never forget.”



Synopsis_________________________________

When the Lights go Out

Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Audience: 8 – 12; especially boys

Peyton Aldrich has just moved to a new army base with his parents and younger sister. He doesn’t understand why his father has been sent to such a rundown place in the middle of nowhere. After all, his father was a colonel, with top security clearance, who completed the elite Ranger school. And his training had been in Army Intelligence. Yet, here they were.
Peyton was never allowed to ask his father anything about what he did in the army. Nor was he allowed to ever get in the way. There were many secrets that his dad couldn’t even tell his own family.
Peyton idolized his father. One day, he hoped to grow up to be just like him. His father had told him that the army may not be for everyone, but after what happened on 9/11, somebody had to help keep the country safe.
Peyton finds two friends. Gill is the son of the base’s motor pool sergeant, and Dave’s father is the base chaplain. Together they decide to train like Rangers, and search for some kind of mission they could do. Little did they know that a mission was about to put the boys right in the crosshairs of a dangerous terrorist plot, when a secret weapon would be delivered to the base on its way across the country.
There was no way Peyton could tell his father what he knew. After all, it could cost him his job. Peyton, Gill, and Dave have to take matters into their own hands, and they do.
Will the terrorists find out who is trying to expose their evil plan? Will the boys be able to stop them? And what will happen to Peyton’s father when the general finds out what the boys did?





NIGEL BEALE
Writer, Broadcaster, and Bibliophile
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Driving to a lecture at the National Gallery of Canada I heard on the radio a report that said a small Cessna sized plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Towers.  Thinking nothing of it I headed into the talk.



Seven hours later after the talk and the airwaves were clogged with the news that the plane was no Cessna.  Back at the office I couldn’t call up the CNN site, so I wen to BBC online.  This is where I witnessed the first mesmerizing images.  Like others I could hardly believe my eyes – this had to be fiction – some sort of War of the World hoax – fiction, some sort of disaster movie . . .





As to how these events affect my art – if you consider interviewing and blogging to be such – 9/11 coupled with the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas – strengthened my resolve to champion those in the book arts whose lives are dedicated to the making of beautiful books; The terrorists’ goal, it seemed to me, was and is the destruction of Western civilization and with it, culture - something essential to the enjoyment and meaning of life:  my life and the lives of millions of others.




PJAY BOEVING
First Christian Church Mother’s Day Out Director
Belleville, Illinois
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning. Blue skies, temps amazing. Our fall session was in our second week and I was on my way to work. Stopped at McDonalds for coffee and the girl in the drive through asked if I had seen what had happened to the World Trade Center. I had not. At this point it sounded like a horrible accident.



I turned on talk radio and found out the second plane had just flown into the Trade Center.
I arrived at work and as the director of the Mother's Day Out program I had to pull myself together for the parents and preschoolers in my care.



Parents were in tears, children were wide eyed because they had seen the planes flying into the building.
Then when the Pentagon was hit.. Parents came back to get their children so they could just hold them.


                 Left:  Irving Berlin in 1941.  Author of "God Bless America"  Right:  Participants sing "God Bless America" at the Pentagon Memorial dedication on September 11, 2008. 

We always have group time each day where we sing God Bless America after pledges to the American and Christian flags. The days, weeks, and still to this day we do this.


Left, Francis Julius Bellamy, author of the American Flag Pledge. 

My faith was never shaken in God at this time. However, definitely in mankind. How could such evil exist? Especially as I looked into the innocence in front of me.



Today, in the midst of terrorism all around I still trust in my Lord... And that is enough, most of the time.  I do wish that our country was as United today as in the days immediately follow.





                     Photo attribution Mechelle Ballew


CHARLES CLIFFORD BROOKS III
Poet
Atlanta, Georgia




I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

John Adams


On September 11, 2001, mankind witnessed the result of religious perversion and venomous envy as wrath flew two planes into towers that did nothing, said nothing, and oppressed no one.  I saw anarchy as our country devoured itself without the illusion of absolute control. I do not mock anyone wooed by that illusion.  My blank stare was fixed on that pink, fuzzy cloud, too. My innocence came crashing down – twice.



The man who took credit for the act was educated here, ate, drank, and bought all he could carry, here.  We know his name.  I will not let his spirit live on by mentioning what he was called while acting the maniacal genius.  He was a puppet paid well to be the Clown of Jihad. .  The creature was caught, shot, and then dumped in the ocean. 



Fifteen years ago, on the day in question, I immediately wanted to call my mother.  I needed to check on my girlfriend.  I almost dialed the former on my cell phone, but the secretary kept screaming out in pointless dramatics for attention.  She reached out to pray with me.  I ignored her.
In 2001 I was 25-years-old.  I was in my first year of working as a juvenile probation officer, and my mind was constructing new levies against the agony of child abuse, starvation, and worse soul-sickness for which I wasn’t prepared.  The Twin Towers falling felt to personify the passing of my starry-skinned Peter Pan and Wendy.  They slipped into the void, and never worried again.   No one flew.  No one sang.



I was still in my car when the first plane shook New York.  The secretary called me and howled about a plane and skyscraper, but I couldn’t make out.  I hung up less than thirty seconds later as I pulled into the parking lot of my vocation: the Department of Juvenile Justice. 


                 after American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower

I walked inside. 
A second commercial jet murdered the last man standing, and I admitted that the secretary wasn’t exaggerating this time. I focused on our ancient television set up in the waiting room.  “I thought maybe the first one was an accident,” I heard a friend say who worked alongside me.  That made sense until the second tower fell.


                  after United Airline Flight 175 hit the South Tower

Hell opened and society shrieked.  It was a man-made show of despair.  It was not a vague prediction by Nostradamus.  The Book of Revelation said nothing about two planes, Twin Towers, the Pentagon, or Muslims killing Christians.  This was not a Mayan prophesy.  September 11, 2001 should be rightly blamed on the diatribe of a sadistic hypocrite, years of training, and money from pockets that were sewn into the pants of genocide. 


                  Far right - a painting attributed to Nostradamus

Instead of standing with the others like a slack-jawed baboon, I snuck to my office and closed the door.
I sat behind my desk, swiveled around, and stared out the window to see the same, dingy motel.  My mind went to the mundane for quiet:  What appointments did I have coming in this morning? Did I lock the front door when I left home?  I wonder where we’ll eat lunch. 



 I didn’t want to breathe the air.  I swore I could smell smoke.  Evil was in that smoke.  For a second I considered this a moment I should pen into a poem before the experience faded into the muted colors of selective memory.  No words came.  This is the first I’ve ever written about the event.  I may never write the tragedy into my creative work.  There is enough faux-mourning art molested for personal gain.



I listened to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for hours.  The song is my best, warm blanket against the boogieman.  Monsters were real.  There is legion of organic phobias around us.  I don’t know why we invent more.  I guess it gives us a face other than ours to shrink from.



I wondered if I should ring my dad.  I didn’t.  Instead, I mused on how I’ve seen Beethoven as a father to me.  He is my confessor.  Such ridiculous ideas came to me that day. The world, its history, and hope the future held a better sense of empathy seemed – stupid. 


       I have heard the conspiracy theories, and every way it could have gone different.  It’s the poison of ignorant bliss to entertain. That’s the talk of hindsight.  It is the language of weak minds.  Hindsight judgement is worse than the blatant lies of nostalgia.
I don’t block it out.  I face it.  I have not heard any of the songs written in honor of it.  I don’t want a pound of flesh from the terrorists’ kin.  Every September 11 we should take a moment to respect the damage religion can do when exploited.   I pity no one.  I judge no one.



I write of the day here, and plant it like a tombstone. I bow my head.  Just loud enough for me to hear, I hum Beethoven for the dead.
"It is well that war is so terrible; otherwise we should grow too fond of it."
Robert E. Lee
 stained glass of Lee's life in the National Cathedral depicting his time at West Point, service int he Corps of Engineers, the Battle of Chancellorsville, and his death.







***

PATRICIA CHIAPPA
Writer
Leesburg, Florida




What is your personal experience of 9/11? 
My name is Patricia Chiappa. On 9/11/01 I was living on Long Island, N.Y. I will personally never forget how the day unfolded. My husband was already at work. I was getting ready to go to my job at a hotel. My husband called me. His voice was panic-stricken as he said," Turn on the news. A plane just flew into the Towers." I ran downstairs to see my parents were already watching the news. We watched in horror as the second plane hit!
Then the phone calls started coming in for our family that lived in the city. My husband's uncle a court officer had not been accounted for. My brother's friend a fireman was missing. That day when I went to work, I saw another horrible sight. Fireman were coming into the hotel covered in ash and human remains. I talked to one fireman and he told me," They are dead. They are all dead." It broke my heart.



That evening, my co-workers and I huddled around a small T.V. In the break room. We watched and prayed. My husband's uncle had been found. But our fireman friend was still missing. For three days I clung to my faith, my family and my friends waiting for news on the dedicated fireman. He had been found but badly hurt. On that same day however, more tragic news came. A school mate of mine, my first boyfriend had been lost in the rumble. His name Glen Pettit. His body was never recovered. The anger inside me grew. Terrorist came to our country and took away people we loved!


                Police Officer Glen Pettit

But then the anger subsided and my faith over came my fear. My faith became stronger as I watched the rescues workers dig with their bear hands, as I watched dogs work until their paws were raw, as I watched people line up to give blood.




How did 9/11 influence your art and/or your faith?
9.11 influenced my art  in two ways. First it made me realize that life itself can change in a New York Minute and there is no time to waste.

2nd, It made me open my eyes to the fact that as writers/artists we can use our art to be lights in the darkness. We can  chose to use our words either to heal or to harm, to inspire or to bring anger, to bring change.




LORRAINE CIPRIANO
Poet
Toledo, Ohio
At the time of the September 11th attacks in New York City, I was eight months pregnant and I was supposed to be on bed rest. However, my husband had just gotten back from being stationed in Singapore with his job. So, I was on my feet a lot and getting tired of him traveling so much. It was around this time that I decided he needed to get a job where he would be working from one location. We were living in our hometown of Philadelphia but the work site that would offer him a single site to be at was located in Toledo, Ohio. So, two months later, we moved to Toledo, Ohio and have lived here ever since.



At that exact moment in time, my art form of writing poetry was not affected, but it has influenced my art by prompting a change of location for my family. Flash forward twelve years into the future, I found myself, along with my friend Kayla Williams, at a point in time where we were both fed up with the lack of women writers at events that we were attending. It prompted us to start a program, called Women Unbound, at the Sanger branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library so that local female authors could feel like there is a welcoming place to be heard.


Facebook logo photo of Kayla Williams


Women Unbound 


Since starting this program, I have been published in nineteen different poetry chapbooks/anthologies/journals. So, by putting positive vibes out into a community of supportive women, it has prompted me to take my own writing more seriously. As a result, I feel very blessed to have been part of this process which would never have taken place somewhere else.





***


Poet, Writer, Stanford University Press
San Francisco, California
I was in Washington DC for several days before 9/11 (sitting in the Bishop’s Garden at National Cathedral on the 10th, writing about the great sense of peace I found there), and flew home from Dulles on the afternoon of the 10th



I was awakened in the morning of the 11th by a phone call from my mother in New Mexico, who was in a panic, thinking I was still there in the thick of things. 



I flew to Hawai’i as scheduled the following week, for a three-week retreat on the North Kohala coast, and the horror of events, the fear and the sadness, permeated the long creative nonfiction piece I wrote there, which incorporated (among other things) my father’s experiences there on the Big Island after his South Pacific battles in World War II; and King Kamehameha’s war temple, “The Temple on the Hill of the Whale,” as well as the ‘Ahu’ena Heiau, rebuilt by him later – a temple dedicated to the god of peace and prosperity.  One of the images of the gods in it is of Koleamoku, a god of healing.  The image is crowded with a golden plover, a bird I photographed among green fishponds during my time there.





I found it imperative to write about peace and goodness and affirmation of life, and have done so since, finding there and after “an inherent goodness in the radiant black heart of the island, that rises ineluctably, straight and true as bird flight.”  I’ve dedicated myself to gratitude; the healing of nature; the quite religions of the Quakers and the Buddhists.



I currently work as exhibits manger of Stanford University Press.  In my free time I am an armchair archaeologist and incorrigible traveler.  I am interested in mythology, painting (especially the work of Pierre Bonnard, the Pre-Raphaelites, and the Impressionists), and Italian opera.  Additionally, I enjoy gardening and reading mysteries.  My main creative medium is writing, though I’m also a photographer and have done some collage.  My work has been published by Tin House and The World & I, and has won several awards, including the Dorothy Cappon Prize for the Essay and the Literal Latte Short Story Contest.  I’ve written two novels (yet unpublished), and am working currently on some linked mystery stories set in Mallorca.






J.M. CORNWELL
Freelance Writer/Editor
Florissant, Colorado
I was on my way to see my doctor on 9/11 with the radio on in the rented car I drove when the newscaster broke in to announce a plane had just hit the first of the twin towers in NYC and then the other plane hit the other tower. I could barely breathe, but kept driving because I didn't want to be late for the doctor's appointment. I had been in a car accident where I was T-boned on the Saturday before and was getting the stitches out of my scalp where my head was slammed into the door.



For the next few days, my friends and I were glued to the TV and radio, watching and listening as the numbness wore off and the shock and anger and tears took me by storm. I watched the last tower disappear into the ground in a cloud of dust that reminded me of the demolition of a building as it slipped to the ground without damaging anything nearby.
I read all the essays and accounts of that horrific day and how people stumbled into the following days wondering how anything could be more important and yet fumbling for something to hold on to, anything stable to make sense of a world turned upside down.


The original plans for the Emerald Necklace. 1894

I got caught up in the aftermath of my accident and totaled car, but always on the edge of my thoughts and my mind I wondered if Cleveland, Massachusetts where I lived in the Emerald Necklace, would be the next target, one eye on the sky, ears alert to any sound out of the ordinary.


     Olmsted Park, part of the Emerald Necklace. 

And then the world changed. People howled their rage and their vengeance, ready to push sons and daughters into another war in retribution, willing to throw themselves onto the troops, planes and ships to face down the enemy anywhere and as soon as possible.
Baseball games at Yankee Stadium took on the golden glow of a golden age in watercolor memory and no one could look at the gaping wound where the Twin Towers had once been, where the dust- and blood-covered bones lay beneath the cement pall.


                         Roosevelt delivers the speech to Congress. Behind him are Vice 
                         President Henry A. Wallace (left) and Speaker of the House Sam 
                         Rayburn. To the right, in uniform in front of Rayburn, is Roosevelt's 
                         son James, who escorted his father to the Capitol.



Even now, 9/11 rings a clarion call as loud and strong as "Remember Pearl Harbor" as Roosevelt released the dogs of war he had held back for so long, and the dogs of war slavered like Pavlov's dog when the scientist rang his bell with as much control and understanding as Pavlov's pooch.
                                                                               
                     Left:  Ivan Pavlov   Right:  One of Pavlov's dogs preserved at The Pavlov Museum in Russia.


***
ROBERT CRAVEN
Journalist, Novelist, and Musician
Dublin, Ireland
On 9/11 I was working for a publishing company and I got word from a friend that there had been a plane crash in New York.  We stopped everything that afternoon as the events unfolded.  In Ireland, with such a deep historical connection, it was shocking.

How it affected my work?  I suppose when writing Get Lenin the lies Bush, Cheney & Rice concocted for the invasion of Iraq, drew parallels with Hitler’s invasion of Poland.



CURTIS L CRISLER
Associate Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne Indiana 

Formulating resis-stance
On 9/11 I awoke and started my routine. I turned on the television and listened to the news as I prepared, again, to fumble through teaching my first composition courses, and attend my first graduate courses. I was optimistically lonely.
It was my MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). I was already in a state of awe due to the culture shock, but more due to what I had to go through to get to graduate school.



I quit a good paying job of almost 12 years to pursue my dreams like many red-blooded Americans. I moved on my birthday, loaded up the too large Ryder truck, and attached my rusting hooptie to the back of it. My fiancée and I had broken things off. And I had to attend my half-brother’s funeral, due to a murder/suicide.
If that were not enough, I had to combat the mildew in my apartment. I spent eight hours in GA training at SIU for a week and a half, only to come home in the evening to spend hours cleaning and fumigating my apartment because the slummy landlord kept the windows shut, and the electric off, in 100 degree swelters. So when I opened the door for the first time, the funk that hit me was a putrid slap to my face and stomach.
I had to move my stuff into the apartment and put everything up against one wall, while I cleaned the carpet and refrigerator. Once I was finished with one side, I would move all of my stuff (after the carpet dried) to the other side. This meant I couldn’t sleep in my own apartment the first couple of nights because the stench was so bad. I had to go to a hotel. The electric company couldn’t turn on the electric until the weekday. I was at Wal-Mart, every day, getting things to clean my apartment, for the first month I was in C’Dale. I thought I had seen it all.
Then, I saw the first tower on fire, and the live news feed that I didn’t believe were live because why would one of the Twin Towers in NY be on fire? At the time, I thought it was a clip for a movie. If I am correct, I recall Arnold Schwarzenegger had a movie coming out, called Collateral Damage? The studio had to put it on the backburner due to 9/11, if I’m correct.



I was brushing my teeth when the second plane hit the second tower, and I thought that looks so real it’s surreal on the gloss of the television’s definition, like it actually happened. After a minute of babbling, the reporters’ voices broke through in a bombastic clarity. It was real. It was NY. It was September 11, 2001. I was in a new place, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It felt like I was lost, sunken into an abyss of alienation, and ostracized by bad choices.



         The way I remember it, I know some pieces are missing, but I don’t know how I got to SIU that day. I had to walk since I walked home, I thought when first writing this, but then I read the poem I wrote at that time, and in the poem I drove to school. It was only a couple of blocks away. What is strange, is I am in my little “hutch” (apartment), then I am in class with Allison Joseph, my professor at the time.
She cancelled class, as everyone was trying to connect with relatives, spouses, friends, etc. She had family in NY, and she wore a heaviness that spoke to all of her students, and the world really. She cancelled class, and I was hurt due to the fact that I didn’t know anyone but my peers and professors. This was not Allison’s fault. I was in a situation of my own choosing, and she definitely hadn’t flown planes into the Twin Towers, or the pentagon. Nonetheless, Allison would be a beacon for so many of us.



I had nowhere or no one in that moment to connect to, physically. We left Allison’s class and everything came down on me like falling bricks: internment camps, Zoot suit riots—racial identification, rape, displacement, isolation, and prisoners of war. I hated the way my brain associated things.
Then, everything slowed down. I felt like I was walking in the thick mud of a wet cow pasture. What was strange is that it was so sunny that day—sunny and bright, a picturesque day. Things shifted, and everything caught up, moved back to real-time. That moment was full of voices and drumming from the drummers on the stairs of Shyrock’s Auditorium. What were they there for? News vans and crews and people gathered at the school.
The one thing I will never forget is the jets flying overhead. That sound seemed to stay there in the sun and clamoring chaos of America being “invaded,” and the jets shook us with their presence, physically and literally.



No one knew what to do. I tried to stay out amongst the people, but I couldn’t. I returned to my little hutch, watched the news like I was in a fallout shelter. I thought of my mother. I thought of my family. I thought of old relationships that left scars and new relationships to come, or would never be. I thought of my friends in Gary and Fort Wayne, and in NY. I answered and talked on the phone, when I could reach people. I reverted to what many of us do now, one cell phone, which worked like crap then, with the chaos of the government keeping phone lines clear and all. What would happen if I died and couldn’t see my loved ones again? as many would later profess.
I saw the continuous bombardment of visuals: the first plane hitting, the second plane hitting, the black spots (people) jumping from the fiery tower, the towers falling, the ashen people on the ground, the sirens, the police, the firefighters in a snow-like blindness that covers that day.
I couldn’t take it anymore and I shut myself up into the darkness in my hutch. I thought about the people jumping out of windows so not to get burned. I thought about people who had the buildings collapse on them—the dead and the living, in the rubble. I thought about the people who caused it all. Why did they do it? I thought what is America? I thought about the Bible. I invaded my senses with more news, more reports, more and more loops of the same, until I turned it off. I don’t know how long that was, or how long that took. I did think now we see how it is when intruded upon, as this has happened most of the times off of America’s shores. Maybe I didn’t want to remember?



         This was before the war, before women and men were beaten on American streets for looking “middle-eastern,” before “weapons of mass destruction,” before Jessica Lynch and Shoshana Johnson and Lori Piestewa, before Pat Tillman, before Abu Ghraib, before Ted Koppel read the names of America’s dead, this was before we knew the flight plans and the training plans of the “terrorists,” this was before Saddam was dead, before Kaddafi was dead, this was before many of Iraq’s civilians were collateral damage, before many of Afghanistan’s civilians were collateral damage, before PTSD, before frequent fragging, before some of my students protested war, before some of my students went to war, before the nouns Chaney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Obama, Clinton, before immigration, before the Patriot Act, before drones, before Snowden, before a single-digit approval-rated congress, before TSA and colored charts, before all the soldiers who come back—burnt, without limbs, broken—alive but dead, or actually in caskets, before all of this and so much more.



It is sad that this is just a blip on a screen of my connection to that time, how if fades in and out—how that day connects me to the families and communities here and abroad—the devastation to come, and the devastation still occurring. 



I remember 9/11 as a huge THING that cemented so many relationships with my peers and professors. This type of event had never happened, so we commiserated together, and in turn, leaned on each other, and formed bonds (with many) that have continued until this day.



Graduate school is my badge of honor. For 9/11 made me more vigilant somehow, and possibly tender because I know this life is a blessing and a curse for all of us; yet, we live and make it through to get back to complaining and enjoying the everyday, and whatever that is.



I am a professor now (thanks Allison Joseph). There are many more fine professors that supplied humanity at the time; I just chose to address Allison because she is present when you are in her company. That is so rare, and so what we needed then. She was also one of my writing mentors. This has proven critical to my writing career and growth.



I say all of this to address that my writing has always been about relationships—man’s relationship to man, the male/female conundrum, a father’s relationship to his children or lack thereof, the relationship of man and nature, and so on. For me 9/11 exemplified more of this, and how I see and collect data from my environment.
        

*AUTHOR’S NOTE:  The poem “PDAs” deals with a relationship of familial ties. Two black men are serving for their family, community, and country through their desire to work as a police officer and a soldier. The narrator (essentially me) sees this public display, and is pulled into what many don’t get to see within the African American community, or with people of color.  It’s a moment where brothers may never see each other again.

PDAs

This is a poem born in ’91,
From 1st Gulf War, where Fort Wayne
Police Officer was jittery in airport terminal.
Anticipation and family waited with him,

For Buck Private on leave from search
For Saddam.  When young black soldier
Held his brother in I-won’t-let-go-embrace,

I saw their arms
Full muscled—tension bands.  War tick-tocked—
A tiny man in my heart kicked me with steel-toed
Appreciation, sending bell to the top, ringing my
Throat with a dry thick burn churning gulp.

Tears did what they do.  I wrote, Would cop see
Sibling in 6 months?  Two black men uniformed
For service, in context, in so perfect proportion
One won’t make it back to his distant childhood.

So leave meant remembering and remembering
Has brought me back to when I stood up,

Had infant poem down
On paper.  Spoke, “I know you don’t know me
But this is for you.  It’s a poem ‘bout brothers.
Take it, please.”  They took it, looked frozen
Like sane people do with crazy.

I walked for exit, avoiding the Kodak flash,
But here I am, again, arms tight about it.


*AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Unfortunately, I would come back to war, with 9/11. Ten years later I am writing a poem I thought I’d never write, or had ever considered writing. What’s missing, or implied between the two poems, is the residue of the Gulf War and it being a harbinger of things to come. What that means…I’m still searching.
The below poem was first published in a community anthology in Carbondale called Voices for Peace (anthology) and was first titled “that tuesday (war cry),” before I changed to “10 Years Later…into that Tuesday.”  

10 Years Later…into that Tuesday
(War Cry)

i.
Clean-shaven, a priest stands in green grass troubled about arch diocese:
pedophilia, gay parishioners, and female clergy wannabes

A lady in tan Capri pants holds her daughter’s hand so tightly light won’t
penetrate between them and no man will debauch the enforced bond

On Shyrock’s Auditorium steps brown faces play drums,
an antiquation of the Congo—new nostalgia of America

A news reporter from Channel 3 News has a mic shoved in her face
         her ululations feed-back anonymous fear

An Asian and blond in daisy dukes solicit female sex in a stream,
we all want a fast love in brief blurs on hot roller blades

The drums are mad, belligerent, hacking out the mucous enflaming their throats

ii.
In heartland, family room for the south,
         townies aren’t static they are activity,
         engaging; Dodge ramming, Ford tough, like a rock

iii
Here, each word is a life, a symbol in society
and an unraveled paragraph trimmed out
to look like a sentence—meager, means absence

iv.
Mama hands out stamps at post office—a woman handling my heart
helps untaught kids in a library, hope—stuffed-shrimp swathe
in Monterey Jack Cheese and Billy Wilder flicks cram my cranium

v.
Walking to my car, head stuffed w/ ifs, those babbling drums
pulsate my brain (heel toe heel toe) and the screams
are absent voices in bubbles, lifting, missing, listen…


*AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Writing 9/11 poems would still haunt me. I was in some way recovering, but at the same time, I had systematically moved on, due to nothing else but continuing to breathe, live, and take each day as it came. In “9/11/2010” I found myself revisiting those initial ruminations of mine, and how history had replicated so many mistakes of the past. Mostly, after my grandfather had passed, I was writing from a human place, and confronting why I couldn’t address his death due to the overshadowing enormity of 9/11 and its nine year anniversary (almost another 10 years with war).
The below poem “9/11/2010” first appeared in Tidal Basin Review, Fall/ Winter

9/11/2010
—R.I.P. SC, Sr.

A “holy man” in Florida cares to burn Qurans
today, tugs at ripe media flash—cheap fear in some. 

Like some burned Anne Frank, Angelou, Rowlings,
some want to even burn all bibles not King James. 

A friend, Emmanuel, will poet manna of Latino matins,
a bouncing reverb off harmonic walls in TRIAAC’s loft,

nine years later on this rainy anniversary, when
skyline of NY’s clean-shaven from planes’ blades. 

So you, grandpa, Mississippi boy, must sign up on waiting-
list-for-grieving.  Everyone’s right & wrong all at once. 

& since we only talked at funerals: your son’s: the man
who left my mama his name, a baby me; your grandson’s:

my legit half-brother, & your second son’s: “the good kid,” 
Who would I laugh clumsily w/ of curse on family males

if you’re in opal casket?  I was to share night w/ Emmanuel,
when a poem rustled me down.  On FB, Calibri font slapped

upside my opticals, “You going to your grandfather’s funeral?” 
A hit collapsing me to a sack, some landslide of earth on my chest,

my breath taken by friend on FB—someone who volunteers
the 411—someone not knowing there’s no poem to treat

what I correctly feel.  There’s no verbs big enough to paint
my metaphors of graffitied fusion.  There’s only what it is,

you & I knotted in DNA’s trust.  I’m heir, running after
our skein of yarn.  My life rolls to its end, as you dream less

in pin-striped double-breasted.  So untouchable, the dead,
the Twin Towers, the rescue workers, the volunteers.  I think…

burning books w/ this rain?  Takes me where books connected
us.  Dr. Seuss’s magical words via mama’s mailbox.  Now

my words got talons—grown alphabet from book spines & dead.  

*AUTHOR'S NOTE:  The broken lives on, and it never goes away. This is war’s footprint. As it is not over, we still have unwritten work before us. Yet, in the spirit of Anne Frank, and for the voiceless, and those who tremble and cower before becoming stronger, I too must shed my skin, see what I leave behind me, but become new in how I address what’s before me. The next day is always a new opportunity.


***
                             photo attributed to Sandra K Jones
LYNN DOMINA
Head of English Department at Northern Michigan University



I remember everything about that day, from the navy blue linen blazer I was wearing to the feel of the gravel beneath my soles as I hurried home, but what I remember most is the chill in my gut.



I’d stepped off the elevator that morning in an optimistic mood—I’d finished preparing my classes the night before, and the walk to campus had been refreshing. My Dean met me in the hallway. “Where’s Sandra?” he asked, referring to my spouse who worked several days each week in New York City and telecommuted the rest of the time from our home in the Catskills. “Home in bed,” I said, curious but not yet alarmed. Then I stepped into the faculty lounge and saw the tv.



I saw one tower of the World Trade Center on fire. I saw another plane hit the second tower. I saw both towers crumble. I saw the smoke, the fire fighters, the doctors waiting hopelessly as so few survivors arrived at emergency rooms. I watched all of this over and over again.



Many of my students lived in Brooklyn or The Bronx or Manhattan, and they wanted to go home, understandably, to lay eyes on their family members. All bridges and tunnels were closed by then, but more importantly, I told them, “The one thing your parents know right now is that you’re up here, safe.” Every year afterward until I moved out of New York state, one or another of my students would say, “My father worked in the towers” or “My uncle was a firefighter, and he died on 9/11.” The western Catskills, with their forested hills and rocky streams, can feel very far away from New York City. But no place is far away, as we’ve learned over and over again in the years since.



Later that morning, I listened to a voice mail from Sandra. Her daughter had been scheduled to fly that morning, and all we knew was that her itinerary matched that of United Flight 93, from Newark to San Francisco, departing sometime around 9:00 a.m. No one could reach her and no one had heard from her. By the time I arrived home half an hour later, she’d been found. She’d still been waiting in the airport at Newark and had seen the attack through the windows. A cab driver took her to her father’s house on the Jersey shore. Those morning hours had been terrifying, but now she had been found, and now she was safe.



But so many people weren’t, people we knew, people we knew of, people we read about as the New York Times published photos and short biographies of each victim, a dozen or so every day for weeks and weeks afterward. The fliers posted on fences and bulletin boards by friends and relatives of the missing were heart wrenching. All of those people who were so loved and who had simply disappeared, so many of their bodies transformed into ash.



Until that moment, we Americans had lived privileged lives, not only through our comparative economic prosperity, but also through our naiveté—mass violence, particularly terrorism, occurred in other places, and other people became victims. We had in fact witnessed terror; only a few years before, Timothy McVeigh, for instance, had bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City. But to me at least, that and similar incidents had felt isolated, the work of lone deranged individuals. In the years since 9/11/2001, we’ve learned that no act is isolated, and no one is safe. Certainly each time we board planes, many of us pray for our safety, not only for the mechanical features of the plane and the skill of the pilots, but also that no one has placed a bomb on the plane and no one is intending to use the plane itself as the bomb. But we worry now about our safety on other occasions, too, as we settle in with our popcorn at a movie theater or choose a new blouse to wear to a nightclub. We’re not safe—maybe we’ve never been safe, but now we know it.



I have tried and failed to write about 9/11. It feels too massive. I’ve wondered what form my writing should take—the writing I’ve admired most has fused elegy with protest. That’s the direction my newer work is taking, memorializing individuals while insisting that the world doesn’t need to be this way. John Donne could not have imagined the horrifying ways in which each person’s death would diminish us all in the twenty-first century, but his assertion remains at least as true now as it was during the seventeenth century—we are diminished. We are collectively more vigilant and more fearful. 


I don’t know quite how, yet, to write about such fear when my values prioritize trust, diversity, welcome. What I will not do is turn further inward; what I will do is continue exploring my own beliefs about peace, inclusivity, forgiveness, and each person’s identity as an image of God.






TONY D’SOUZA
Novelist and Writer
Sarasota, Florida
I heard about September 11th on September 12th, because I was living in a village in Ivory Coast, West Africa, where I was in my second year of Peace Corps service.  I was a rural HIV/AIDS educator;  I spent my whole service in the same village of about 700 people, learning to speak Worodougou, a Mianke dialect, and using the village as a base to teach AIDS in many of the Worodougou villages of that region.  I lived in a thatched round hut, one of the nicest, coziest abodes I have ever had, and slept on a mat on the floor. 



The morning of September 12, very early, right at dawn, a young man came and knocked on my door.  I thought it was strange because I didn’t recognize him and it was unusual for a younger person to be so bold as to approach me out of the normal routines of age hierarchy.  He had a strange grin that we might call ‘sheepish,’ though that doesn’t seem like the right word.  He seemed to be internally reveling in the fact that he had information that would affect me that I didn’t have yet.
He said to me, “America has been destroyed.”



There were no cell phones in the region, few shortwave radios, the one TV played Ivory Coast’s only channel only at night after everyone was done with their field work.  There was no way to get any instant news.  The first thought that went through my head – even though I loved that place – was “Fuck, now I have to live here forever.”
I hurried to the hut of an old man I knew had a radio; he was listening to it when I showed up; yes, he told me, something had happened in my country, an attack.  “Nukes?”  I asked.  “The big bomb?”
“Yes, some kind of big bomb,” he said.



I rode my bicycle the 12 miles into the regional capital, Sequela.  I called the Peace Corps headquarters in Abidjan from the house I shared there with the other Volunteers of the area; yes, there had been a terror attack, someone at headquarters told me, we were supposed to stay in our villages and keep low profiles; the situation profiles; the situation in the States was chaotic; it had been isolated to NY and DC, no, all of American had not been destroyed.  For a while, 9/11 was all that any of us could talk about.  But I for one was far removed from the news cycle and once I knew that it was just another terror attack, albeit a big one, my life in West Africa went on unchanged.






ALEXIS RHONE FANCHER
Poet , Photographer, and Poetry Editor of Cultural Weekly  
Los Angeles, California
On September 11th, 2001, at 5 a.m. pacific time, My then-fiancé (now husband) picked me up and took me to the hospital for a small procedure. As we entered the lobby, the TV was streaming photos of the World Trade Center. There was a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen that said  “recorded earlier.” In my half-asleep state I took that to mean it was a slow news day and the TV station was airing old footage from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Two hours later, recovering from anesthesia, my husband told me the Twin Towers were no more, and that the entire world had changed.




My twenties had been rocky, but in my thirties a sense of optimism had begun to show up in my work. After 9/11 my poems grew leaner, edgier. Love figured into them less and less. My work was increasingly cynical, fatalistic. I have never again felt safe in my country. I think my poems reflect that.




LEWIS GORDON 
West Hartford, Connecticut
I was in Providence, Rhode Island, in the duplex apartment in Fox Point at which I lived during those years.   It was my wife Jane’s first day of graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania.  As I was chair of Africana Studies at Brown University, we decided on her commuting on the AMTRAK.  Our youngest child was seven weeks old.  Our youngest girl was only two years his senior. 



My schedule permitted my being home with the children on the days my wife went to school.   We drove her to the Union Station, kissed her good-bye, and sent her on her way with a Walkman tape of some piano tunes I performed for her to keep her company on the way, along with a set of plastic containers in a cooler in which to store breast milk as she was still nursing.  
The morning was quiet, a comfortable temperature, and although going through the mixed emotions of sadness and joy as I both missed Jane and was excited about the beginning of her adventure, I was resolved for a wonderful morning with our baby boy and two-year-old girl.  We weren’t a family who watched much television, so returning home, I simply played with the children on the floor while listening to music until the phone rang.
My mother was on the other line.   She urged me to turn on the television.  “A plane flew into on of the buildings downtown!  The World Trade Center.”
         I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation.  My mother didn’t say “jet.”  She said “plane,” so I imagined a tiny single engine having failed to climb high enough or perhaps went out of control and crashed into one of the buildings.    
“Was anyone hurt?”  I asked, imagining something like the scene from Life According to Garp, where the small plane crashed into the house the protagonist Garp was viewing. 



         Turning on the television, I immediately saw the wound in the first tower and the smoke coming out.   I turned on WINS as well since it was a NY station and was suddenly watching television and hearing the reports.   My mother, who lived in the Bronx, called back.
“They crashed a plane into the other building!” she cried out.
“Shit,” I thought.  “This isn’t accidental.  The country is under attack.”
And then it hit me.  She was calling me because she was worried about her children and grandchildren in what seemed like an invasion.   Although my younger two children were with me, where were my older two and…. Jane was on the AMTRAK heading to Philadelphia.  Her train was headed directly through Manhattan.  I couldn’t remember if the AMTRAK took the southern route under the World Trade Center or directly under the Hudson from 34th Street.   When I called, I learned my older two children’s schools were in lock down.
A cacophony of TV, radio, telephone, children crying, and more were followed as reports came in about the Pentagon.  It occurred to me that my good friend and undergraduate mentor Gary Schwartz and his wife Barbara (Bobbie) Siegel lived a few blocks from the towers, so I telephoned them and got Bobbie on the phone.  “Are you OK?”
“Gary’s already on his way to the Bronx.  Things are crazy down here!” she said.  And as she was about to complete her next sentence, she gasped as the first tower crumbled.   “I’ve got to go!” She hung up the phone as she began her journey of fleeing from the area.
 I went to see the scene on the television and could only shudder as I witnessed so many unfortunate people being minced in the grinding collapse of cement, glass, and steel.   And then the second fell.   

Thinking about the fate of those murdered in the event, I was also wondering if Jane were beneath ground in those consequences of falling skies.   
It was 2001, and we were luddites.  We had no mobile phones, even though my mother had insisted we buy one.  As I lived in NYC from age nine, worked as a tourist counselor for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, played jazz and rock n’ roll down in the Village, and pretty much explored every borough before leaving in 1989, I knew a lot of people to call.   The phones were jammed, and I began to worry about Jane, about Bobbie, about my mother, my grandmother, my brothers, anyone I knew in the area, and I began to think through the possibility of my children losing their mother, of me losing Jane, and the reality that in that rubble and flurry of white dust were other people’s mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers—so many lost so much in a matter of moments.
         I spent the rest of the day struggling with busy signals as I tried to find out whatever I could about her train, whether it made it.  As the day went on, there was a paradoxically loud silence all around.  To get through it I simply tended to the children as though things were OK while calling family, friends, and colleagues for updates on anyone.
         Eventually, one of the callers turned out to be Jane.  I exhaled.  She was alive.  She explained her train had arrived in Penn Station and everyone was told to get off, that the country was under attack.  Not being from New York, Jane didn’t know where to go.  It turned out none of the mobile phones were working, and their owners didn’t bother to travel with quarters for a payphone.  She had some to make calls and managed to get through to me.  She saw no point in running round upstairs onto the streets.  She then suddenly had to go: a conductor ran up and yelled, “Anyone who wants to get out of here, get on the train!”
         “I’ll call you when I get to Philly,” she said and ran off onto the train.  Bizarre as this sounds, she made it to her class, which was an evening seminar.   She was later asked why she bothered to go to class and did she see any point doing doctoral work in political science when such events were unfolding.  



Her response was that although everyone was in shock, the experience made it clear she had made the right decision: it was crucial to be studying politics, really studying politics, at that time.
No one at the time had known who had perpetrated those attacks.  Given the Oklahoma bombing of federal building six years earlier, I had presumed it was a white right-wing hate group that had perpetrated the crime.   Learning it was Al-Qaeda—an Islamic right-wing organization of hate—brought to the fore the importance of understanding the dangers of a world that fails to understand its political realities.  The rest of us being collateral damage to varieties of right-wing hate groups continues to be overlooked as countries continue to be pressured more and more to the right across the globe.
Jane called me that evening and recounted everything, including the surreal image of going through all that with her breasts overflowing with milk—a symbol of life—in the midst of so much death.  She went to sleep in Philadelphia that night thinking through the difficult question posed to her on her experience of advanced study: What is the point of political science and specifically political theory?  It’s a question she continues to reflect on more than a decade later as a professor of political science and Africana studies and the president of the Caribbean Philosophical Association.   



I didn’t sleep that night, as I rarely ever slept during those years.  I kept thinking about those lost lives.  Both of us saw the sun rise to a different world.
My thoughts are always on the human reality, the lived-reality, the existential suffering and point of view through which meaning is formed.   Over the years, I’ve heard so many poignant stories of that day in which so many people found out what was in them and what wasn’t.   
I met a boyfriend of one of my aunts a few years later.  He was a security guard at the first tower.  He spoke of the carnage he witnessed and of trying to help those who were still alive, but when the tower began to fall, all he could do was run.  He kept running.  When he stopped, he realized had ran all the way to the Bronx.  His guilt and trauma were palpable.  He couldn’t understand why he was alive and realized he annoyed many people when he tried to express his suffering.
Bobbie and Gary, too, were alive.   Their apartment building remained.  But it was surrounded by death.  The smell of death pervaded the area all the way to Brooklyn.
Among the stories that brought the experience “home,” so to speak, was that told by my Chinese-Jamaican cousins Michelle and Shelly at the former’s wedding.  I mention their being Chinese Jamaicans because of certain presumptions people may make at least about their being Chinese.  
They worked for one of the brokerage firms in the second tower.   When the first was hit, management told them to be calm and stay where they were.  My cousins looked at each other and immediately disobeyed management and ran down the stairs.  Whether it was their Chinese or Jamaican or creolized elements of both at work or simply their good judgment, we’re all very grateful for what prevailed.  The floor that was hit by the second plane was theirs.   



A few years later, Michelle was sent a package from the city.  It was her purse.  Her driver’s license was inside, which revealed the owner and her address.  How her purse survived the heat, the tons of rubble, the grinding metals, continues to be a mystery.
I used to teach a course at Brown University entitled “Narratives of Power.”  I included Elias Canetti’s Crowds and Power in the required readings.  I was always struck by his analysis of the survivor.   For Canetti, we are all ultimately survivors in that so many other possibilities didn’t meet at the point of conception but that which constituted us.  And as we go through life, each moment, each day, each week, each month, each year, there are others who simply didn’t make it.  





The casualties we could have been haunt us.  In some societies, such outcomes are connected to divine forces, which means such a special title comes at a price: others have to die.   Thus, some kings used to kill survivors in the hope of severing the chain of death that enabled those individuals to survive.  



I had reflected on survivorship in my early writings because of my research on conquest, colonialism, genocide, and racism.  The mythopoetics of survivorship became a major concern of Jane and me as we worked on other projects since then.  We noticed the US response to the loss of 3,000 people on American soil that day:  the harbinger of death unleashed on so many in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the many from disrupted economies, galvanized violent regimes, practices of torture, assaults on civil liberties, and the many other effects of stupid policies of the so-called “New World Order” substantiate that thesis.   The message for the twenty-first century became clear as one catastrophe after another added to the narrative: we live in the age of disasters.



         Much of my work explores problems that emerge when we conceal human elements from human realities.  Jane and I collaborated on this reflection in our book Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age (Paradigm Publishers, 2009): 

A disaster, we remind our readers, is a fallen star or planet (from Italian dis + astro).  Such events are signs that are to be read, but to what, we asked, do these signs point?   If not to us directly, we are then caught up in the sign and become the same for another; the meaning of the sign continues, then, through what we call sign continua, like the survivor whom the king needed to kill.   There are many sign continua (disasters), and as messages, they are also warnings.  Appealing to the ancient word for such warnings or admonitions—monstrums, through which we inherit the word monster—the “divine warning,” the message dropped from the heavens, reminds us of the important role of monsters: they tell us when our communities have gone wrong.  Monsters never show up when things are right.  We should remember that four jets plummeted from the sky in suicide missions of murder on 9/11/2001.  Three of them hit their targets.  Their signs continued in layers as buildings burned, crumbled, and unleashed smoke, debris, and death across space and time.  It was “we,” the US policies, who cultivated Osama Bin Laden as we have recently done the same with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  In effect, then, they are portents about us, and this was the ultimate disaster of what transpired after 9/11—namely, a continued failure of genuine self-critique leading to recurrences of the same horrible sign continua.    
The fascism and neo-fascism at work in the conditions that led to 9/11 collapsed the world neatly into friends and enemies, the good and the evil, those who must survive and those who must not, without the understanding that anyone could become what we see in “enemies,” which means, disturbingly, ourselves. 
Today, there are romanticized communities of avowedly perfect people, unfortunately ranging from idealized victims to omniscient agents of all that is good.  One set lacks any mature understanding of human beings and I don’t see how the latter are anything less than gods.   Absence of the latter supposedly means one thing: the end of the world.  Both formulations, however, are disastrous.  They compel investment in beliefs that erode conditions for a properly critical and mature consciousness.  


Jane and I concluded Of Divine Warning with the following words, which we regard as one of the terrible consequences of 9/11 and with which I will also conclude this reflection:

We have criticized the project of turning away from monsters
and have argued for learning from them, reading the signs they
signify. If our analysis is correct, then, as we gaze upon that which
has fallen, which means to look upon ourselves, instead of shuddering
with dread and running away, we should see our present
circumstance as an opportunity to make good of what is to come.
We, each generation of humanity, have been asked to save the
world. We are fortunate that there may still be enough time.




*Lewis Gordon is Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies with affiliations in Asian and Asian American Studies, Caribbean and Latin American Studies, and Judaic Studies at UCONN-Storrs; EuroPhilosophy Visiting Professor at Toulouse University, France; and Nelson Mandela Visiting Professor of Politics and International Studies at Rhodes University, France. 



***


ROBERT GRAY
Poet/ Associate Professor at Universitetet i Bergen
Bergen, Hordaland

What is your personal experience of 9/11?
I had just dropped my son off at preschool when I heard about it on the radio. At that point, they thought it was just an accident, and then the second plane hit. I rushed home and sat in front of the television all day in painful disbelief. I was working from home at the time, and my asshole manager kept emailing, saying we needed to turn off the TV and get to work, but I couldn’t do it.


                         Borgund Stavkike in the snow


How did 9/11 influence your art and/or your faith?
In the aftermath, I remember being filled with defiant, patriotic fervor (and anger), but I lived in Alabama, and as I watched the anti-Muslim sentiments rise and the way that the Bush administration played those fears, I soon became as angry at the American political right as I was at the terrorists.
I am not sure that I can trace a direct line between 9/11 and my art (or faith), but I think it would be fair to say that my reaction to the political exploitation of the event fed my inclination to write poetic commentaries on Southern politics and religion (that is, the core of my Jesus Walks the Southland book). 



It possibly also inspired me to be more open in my expression of doubt. For instance, one of the first poems I can remember writing after 9/11 was “Twilight,” which ends with the lines

i look for god
in the pages of a book
and find comfort
in the longing of duino
and dover beach

I don’t think I would have written something that defiant of the religion I was brought up in without 9/11…     


                
Natalie Motes Griffin
Stay at home mom, co owner of family business – A1A Pharmacy
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
       On the morning of 9/11, I went to a Weight Watchers meeting.  While I was waiting for the meeting to start, my sister called to tell me that the news had reported that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers.  There was no other information at that time.  We thought it was probably a novice pilot of a small private plane trying to get a close up look into the building.  I hung up the phone and told my friend beside me what had happened.  We sat baffled as the meeting started.
       At the meeting, I went home and turned on the news.  I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t a silly pilot of a small private plane.  Instead it was a hi-jacked commercial jet.  I watched in disbelief.  How could something like this happen?  Then there was the second jet that crashed into the other Twin Tower.  Down comes a tower.  Shock, horror, fear hit me at once.  I called my husband, sister and other loved ones.  Then came the news of the Pentagon. Then the heroic story of an attack thwarted by brave passengers.  Who was next?



       I gathered myself and left to get my kindergartener from school.  She had heard the news in spite of the calm the school staff tried to have.  The days and weeks that followed were a sobering reminder that Americans no longer felt safe on our own soil.  We had felt secure in what was a very insecure world.  It was time for a new way of life.  The reality that the U.S. is also vulnerable to attacks.
       How did 9/11 affect me spiritually?  I, along with many in our nation, turned to God.  I had been preoccupied with raising my child and all that goes with it.  There were dance classes, homework and play dates. My world was consumed with being a housewife and mother.  I was focused on home remodels and home décor.  I had become distracted from my spiritual life.  I was in a season of giving God very little of my time. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to awaken spirituality.




       We are utterly dependent on our Creator.  We have no real control over the safety of ourselves.  Anything can happen.  I had to put my fears in God’s hands.  I needed to be strong and calm for my child who had become terrified of airplanes.  I thought of the horrors so many face in war-torn countries.  I felt blessed that we haven’t had to witness such in our lifetime.  It’s time to bless and help others less fortunate.  




CRISTINE A. GRUBER
Author/Poet, Registered Caregiver
Riverside, California
I’ll never forget that day.  I was in my car when the news came on the radio that Flight 11 had just crashed into the North Tower. I was sitting at a red light and I remember thinking that I must have heard the announcer wrong, that an accident of that magnitude couldn’t possibly happen. But then I realized from the intensity of the broadcaster’s voice that it wasn’t an accident; it was an attack. I experienced that pain in my chest that occurs when a life-changing event hits like a stone, and I drove home knowing our world would never be the same.



The first thing I did when I got home was to put a tape in the VCR to record the news. For a week straight, I had the VCR recording practically non-stop. I simply felt compelled to capture and safeguard a part of that horrific time in our history. After a week, I stopped recording and I stopped watching as well. I boxed up those tapes and I never watched them again. But I held onto them. It’s so important to never forget all who lost their lives that day. It’s equally important to never take life and liberty for granted, and always remember how quickly things can change.



At that point in my life, I had yet to visit New York. My first trip to New York City came in the spring of 2004. It was a glorious week of visiting museums, galleries, theatres, and bookstores. I have pictures of myself writing poetry in Central Park.



Many wonderful memories were formed that week, but the memory that burns the brightest is of a conversation I had with a local gentleman at a corner deli. He asked me where I was from when he heard me place my order. He said I had an accent. I laughed. I told him I was from Southern California, and he responded with, “Oh, Cali … of course.”



I laughed again and let him in on a little secret … only non-residents refer to California as ‘Cali.’ People who are born and raised in California never say they’re from ‘Cali.’ I went on to share with him that the first time I’d ever even heard such a reference to California was on an episode of The Sopranos. And that’s when he started laughing as well.



The thing that really struck me about this man was how incredibly open and friendly he was to me, a complete stranger from the other side of the country. I teased him and said that I’d decided that New Yorkers had clearly been getting a bad rap all these years for being unfriendly, when nothing could be further from the truth. I told him I’d met some of the nicest people in the world that past week, and I definitely counted him among the best. He grew serious in that moment and turned away. The woman behind the counter handed him his sandwich, and then he looked back at me and said:  “Everything changed after 9/11. We realize now how much we need each other. Everyone’s just, well…everyone’s just a little bit nicer now. Know what I mean?”

And I do know. I know exactly what he means. So that’s the memory I carry with me from my first trip to New York. A very intimate connection with a complete stranger who opened up to me because he was forever changed after September 11, 2001.



I wrote several poems on that trip that later went on to be published. When people ask me to define my art, I often find myself a little tongue-tied. I write what moves me, but I’m never quite sure which poems will also move others. I believe the greatest way in which I was influenced and changed after 9/11 comes in the form of a deeper sense of universal connectedness and spiritual affinity. In writing poetry I find that the art of creation connects us all. 



*Cristine A. Gruber, a Southern California native, is a registered caregiver and a fulltime author/poet. Her poetry reflects her view of the human condition in all its complexity and beauty. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines, including: North American Review, Writer’s Digest, Ascent Aspirations, California Quarterly, Dead Snakes Online Journal, The Endicott Review, Foliate Oak, Full of Crow, The Homestead Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, Leaves of Ink, Miller’s Pond, The Penwood Review, The Poet’s Haven, The Tule Review, and Westward Quarterly. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Lifeline, was released by Infinity Publishing and is available from Amazon.com.



KAREN HEAD
Poet and Editor at Atlanta Review
Atlanta, Georgia

My experience on 9/11 began with a phone call. I was talking to my mother, as I did most mornings. She was in Georgia. I was in Nebraska. The conversation was the usual mother/daughter chatter. For a reason I do not remember, my mother stepped outside onto her porch. She told me to hold on because her neighbor was trying to tell her something. When she came back on the line she said, “Apparently, a plane has hit one of the buildings in New York.” We both reached for our remote controls and turned on our televisions just in time to see the second plane hit. We fell silent for about five seconds, and then I said, “It’s finally here.” She sighed and answered, “It would seem so.”



How did my mother and I know instantly what was happening? We didn’t really know for sure, but ours was an educated guess. For the final years of my father’s military service, especially our final assignment abroad, we were constantly aware of the possibility of a terrorist attack. My father was the senior ranking non-commissioned officer on base, that is, he was the Post Sergeant Major. My parents never got into an automobile without first walking around and inspecting it. We knew that my father could be the target of a car bomb, and by extension so could we. What my mother and I immediately acknowledged in the early moments following the 9/11 attack was that the United States had been isolated from terrorism far longer than many countries. We were as stunned as anyone else, but we were not surprised.



Despite my intuition about what I believed had happened, there was so much confusion that morning, so I went to work like many people did. I was scheduled to be in a class I was co-teaching with Grace Bauer. It was a course on contemporary American poetry, and that day we were scheduled to discuss Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. We met before class and both agreed that Plath and Sexton were too dark under the circumstances, so we just let students talk about whatever they wanted and dismissed class early.



Meanwhile as the skies grew quiet nationwide, the military jets above southeastern Nebraska were omnipresent. I knew enough to know that their presence was a signal that something significant was happening nearby—only later would I learn that the President had been brought to an air force base between Lincoln and Omaha.



As a Quaker, I spent a great deal of time thinking about Peace. I felt that Peace was going to become an increasingly difficult thing to maintain. Very soon I received a “War is not the Answer” bumper sticker in the mail. As a child of the military, I knew that war would be the only “answer” for many people.



As I poet, I have found writing about 9/11 difficult. I have tried many times, but I have never created anything that didn’t seem trite. Others have written more successfully. I have taught their work.




Last spring, I was teaching a creative writing course and one of my students wrote a poem from the perspective of her five-year-old self. Her father was an airline pilot, and in the poem she describes not being able to make sense the flashes of horror on her television, but watching the terrified looks on her parents’ faces. For many months, she would cling to her father and try to keep him from going to work. My student’s poem is an example of the reach of such major culture tragedies. We will re-experience 9/11 in different ways for many years to come.




SHONDRA JEPPERSON
Actor, Artist and Musician
Sedona, Arizona
I remember 9/11 vividly as if it happened yesterday.
My husband Tom and I at that time, were residing in a north county suburb of San Diego, called Rancho Bernardo. I had left early that morning to deliver our then, four month old poodle girl Kami, to our groomer and had just returned home. Walking into the shared courtyard of the condo that we were renting, a guy frantically ran out of a neighboring upstairs door and in noticing me, yelled out in a panic, “Have you seen whats happening? Oh my God, turn on your TV, the world is coming to an end!”



I was of course taken aback and ran upstairs to our front door calling out to Tom as I flipped on our TV to a prime time morning show. Just as I did, cameras were catching a plane flying into New York Citys Twin Towers. Tom and I stood there watching in shock. I slowly sat down on the floor in front of the TV half believing what wed just seen happen LIVE on the air. The news anchors were beside themselves, rattled, confused, waiting for explanations to what wed all witnessed. More reports were coming in of a plane having crashed and of an attack at the White House. A normal Tuesday was all of the sudden, tipped upside down and sideways into complete mayhem. 



Tom and I gasped, cried, left the room from time to time to compose ourselves, toggled from network to network hearing each speculation and then finally confirmation on who was behind our countrys historic nightmare caught on camera. I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around the fact that this was not disaster movie but rather for real. This reality, although barely imaginable, slowly sunk in. Broadcasts were capturing real people inside the Twin Towers while it imploded, people running in the streets in terror from rubble, huge clouds of thick toxic smoke, falling steel and bodies.


                 9/11 Twin Tower survivors covered in dust.
                         Attributed to Don Halasy 

Overwhelmed in deep sadness, I realized, as never before, that the concept of safety in our own country had actually been a façade collapsed forever. Now our country was included on the list of places victimized by hate-filled individuals who heinously coordinated and successfully made their presence known and agendas heard by a bulldoze of inhumanity and carnage.
As the afternoon progressed, announcements of church services, memorials and candle vigils were offered by and for the community, as a way to honor and mourn those whod died and lost loved ones. Unbeknown to us that day, later that week and during the months ahead well into a year, wed both be singing for 9/11 memorial events and other similar services.



Emotionally spent, Tom and I chose to head out to the beach at La Jolla Shores. It was always a place of solace and centering for us where we could walk along the shore, intend, talk and connect. When we arrived, the sun was setting and the boardwalk was quiet for the exception of a small group of 12 to 15 people gathering on the sand with candles. Tom and I joined them while I held Kami rocking her in my arms for what turned out to be an hour.





            270 Panorama overlooking La Jolla Shores as seen from an overlook near the Martin Johnson   
House during a late August Sunset.  Attributed to Scripps Institute of Oceanography 


All of us silently formed a circle saying nothing to one another. At one point, I started singing Amazing Grace and after singing several verses, all of us continued humming the melody for quite a while and gently subsided into a renewed silence. Tom quietly led God Bless America with everyone chiming in.


                 John Newton author of "Amazing Grace"


                 Irving Berlin author of "God Bless America"


It was an indescribable comfort to feel an unspoken connection in a circle with strangers, sharing a sacred space and singing as one voice after such an unforgettably tragic day. In that moment I no longer felt helpless. It was a gift that I hold in my heart forever.





JENNIFER JUNEAU
Poet, Fiction Writer, and Sports Writer
New York, New York



On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was living in Switzerland. I remember vividly exactly where I was when I heard the news—rather, saw it!



Jennifer Juneau next to a statue of James Joyce in Zurich, Switzerland. 

I was in my living room in my Swiss flat, playing games with my toddler, and CNN was on TV. I always had CNN in the background, because at that time, it was the only channel I could get in English.


Left:  Jennifer Juneau with son at the statue of Hungarian poet Vorosmarty in Budapest.  Right:  Jennifer Juneau with son in Geneva, Switzerland.
We were six hours ahead of US time, so it was mid-afternoon where I lived. A news report came on after the first tower had been hit. Then, suddenly, as the coverage continued, the newsman in front of a burning tower stunned as everyone else, the camera veered to a plane coming towards the second tower!



I could not believe my eyes. I stood staring at the television in shock as the plane made a beeline into the World Trade Center. This could not be happening! I must have stood frozen for a good ten minutes before I picked up the phone and made hysterical phone calls to the United States, to my husband in his Swiss office. Every where, everyone—how could this be!



As a poet, my work began to reflect a unity between cultures around the world. One poem in particular, “Blitzkrieg,”
(https://untitledwithpassengers.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/blitzkreig-by-jennifer-juneau/published in the Salzburg Poetry Review, has a dreamlike quality, where the speaker, in a dreamlike state, addresses the topic.



Fifteen years later, I am back living in New York City. I had not stepped foot on American soil in almost two decades. What I’ve noticed, since living here in my pre-9/11 days, is a remarkable newfound unity among New Yorkers. People are humble, respectful and stand together.




The first place I went on my return was downtown to see the Freedom Tower. Upon rising from the subway, the sight of its majestic figure jutting out from the trees, reminded me that our country is still standing and how resilient and strong we, the people, are.



***


MARILYN KALLET
Workshop Leader at VCCA-France, Professor of English, Director, Creative Writing Program at University of Tennessee and Poet/Writer.
Knoxville, Tennessee

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
*(First published in The Knoxville News-Sentinel, September 25, 2001.
Published in East Tennessee Writer, 9.10 (2001). Pages 4-6.
http://www.knoxvillewritersguild.org/octnews01.pdf

Relaxed, I sat with my seatbelt fastened on Delta flight1702, scheduled to depart from LaGuardia at 9:10 on Tuesday morning, September 11th. I had been in the East Village the night before, giving a poetry reading to an actors’ co-op. Now I was on my way back to Knoxville, where I was expected to teach my afternoon class in poetry writing at UT.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the captain said, “We have just been informed that a plane has hit the World Trade Center, and that we will not be able to take off at this time. Please leave the plane immediately.”
My legs felt rubbery, yet I thought that surely this was only a temporary inconvenience.
Back in the lobby, we lined up to rebook our flights out of New York.  But at 9:17 an airport announcement went out: “All of the airports are closed. Proceed to the baggage claim area.” The airport television sets had gone blank.



Downstairs, the luggage from every airline was coming out on the carousels, or had been piled on the floor. The Delta baggage handlers made handmade cardboard signs with flight numbers, and piled up the luggage next to the signs. Small miracle, my bags were in front. I grabbed them and made for the hotel reservation phone. The line was long.
“All the hotels are booked,” a woman said.
Airport phones were dead. I walked outside, hoping to find a cab. Hundreds of people were gathered looking for transportation, for answers as to what to do next.



Nearby, Grand Central Parkway traffic zoomed out of the city. No way to cross without being killed. Cabs rolled by our little island but would not stop—not until a man jumped out into the road waving a hundred dollar bill. Others with wads of cash followed suit. I had only a little cash in my pocket; I had been on my way home, after all.



Suddenly the police came by and pushed us all away from the airport building out into the center aisle, nearer to traffic. As we were leaving, a bomb squad entered the terminal building. 
A well-dressed businessman with a cell phone asked me, “Would you like for me to get you a hotel room?” 
I turned to a woman about my age who was traveling with her adolescent daughter and asked, "What are you going to do?”
"I rented a car as soon as they bumped us from the plane.”
"Can I go with you?” I asked this stranger. 
The woman looked at me, then at the man who had just asked me about a room, and said protectively, “Sure, you come with me. We’ll go out to Long Island.”
We dragged our bags toward the Hertz rental company. For the first time in my life, I felt like a displaced person. At least I had a friend! The Hertz van finally picked us up. Ahead of us, we could see a giant cloud of black smoke.



"That’s it, that’s the World Trade Center!” someone said. It looked as if a nuclear bomb had been dropped.
“The Pentagon’s been hit,” someone announced. 
At Hertz, the lines were incredibly long.  My new friend, Dina, had a magic “gold card.” We got a car and headed away from the city. Dina’s first plan was to head to her aunt’s in Brooklyn.
"What will they think about your bringing a white lady home?” I asked.
“There are white people in my family,” Dina said. “Don’t worry.”
The roads to Brooklyn were blocked off. We headed out to Long Island. On the other side of the expressway, racing by us, passed hundreds of emergency vehicles streaming out of Long Island toward the city.
Dina’s daughter, Tonya, who is a Fifth Grader, was scared. “I’ll never trust the sky again,” she said.
Military planes flew overhead. Dina decided to head for her parents’ house in Poughkeepsie. My sister lives in Hamden, Connecticut. We would take the ferry from Long Island to Connecticut. This lovely stranger, who was quickly becoming my friend, said she would take me right to my sister’s door.



But traffic on the Long Island Expressway was even more terrible than usual. By four p.m. we arrived in Port Jefferson, where the ferry departs for Connecticut.
“Five hours’ wait for the ferry,” the officials told us. The line of cars stretched for four blocks.
I called my cousin from Hauppauge, who came to pick me up. Dina chose to wait in line, determined to get to her parents’ house.
I spent the night in Hauppauge, and in the early afternoon took a ferry out to Bridgeport. The Harbormaster drove a motorboat alongside the ferry on the way out of and into the harbors. An army helicopter circulated overhead.
I was thrilled to see my sister, Elaine Zimmerman, who is also the Connecticut Commissioner for Children and Family. She was already beginning to prepare materials for the schools to use in talking to the children about what had happened.
Bradley Airport in Connecticut was closed on Thursday. The state police said there were few planes on the ground and a short supply of fuel. So I rented a car and headed home.



All along Route 84 in New York there were blinking neon signs that said “God Bless America!” alternating with the stars and stripes of our flag. I had been an anti-war protester in Boston during the sixties, but this time I was grateful to see those flags, along the highways, in every little town.



Six days after I had planned to come home, I reentered Knoxville, and there were American flags all over our suburban neighborhood. I heard Lori Tucker (news anchor for Knoxville, Tennessee's channel 6) on the car radio doing a fund-raiser for the Red Cross in New York. I felt proud to be home. A few lines resonated in my head from a poem I had begun on the highway out of New York:

Before   (September 10)

The night before the end of innocence
the lights of Houston Street glimmered.

The firemen had not yet mingled with the ashes.
Now there’s Before and After,

stairwells, smoke,
relatives clutching photos,

buckets, hand over hand,
the smell of flesh.

Those on the highest floors had not yet
streamed into their ending,

unfinished, falling like love letters
they had barely begun.

The night before the air was shattered,
the watchmen had not begun to speak of war,

or revenge.


Yom Kippur Remembrance
                        September 27, 2001

They were not love letters, they were
people, someone’s mother, another’s son.
Brave enough to leap, cheat fire,
some of them hand in hand.
This Yom Kippur we pray for
their families, for those “hurt,”
the rabbi says.  Pray for the “wounded,”
she repeats.  Mi shebareach l’avosaynu.
Bless those in need of healing.
Does our language mock them?  Do we need
new words for images burned into our brains—
no, “burned” is a lie.

Yisgadal, Va yisgadash.  Praise God.
We are the living. What

will be the legacy of our heroes, who raced
up stairs to help others and crumbled
under firey rubble, under someone else’s
idea of fame?  Yom Kippur, we let go
of anger, quiet it the way we’d calm a sick child.
We forgive, ourselves, the vague ominous world.
Forgive God.  Free will, the rabbi says.
The ashes fall again, forgive men’s hands.
We see God in the faces of the
rescuers, she says.  I believe her.

Don’t write about disaster, our Poet Laureate says.
We know what happened.  Tend the ordinary.
I believe him, pull dead leaves
from the mums.  Miracle-Gro for them.
Sunlight and fasting for us.

Marilyn Kallet
Published in “Focus 9/11: Poems Part II.” PoetsUSA.com.

***


TAMARA LINSE
Laramie, Wyoming                                                             
It’s funny how these things start. There are no memories, as if you don’t exist, until ~ BAM! ~ your memory kicks into crystal consciousness the moment you hear the news. 
I know it happened on a Tuesday because I was teaching a Tuesday/Thursday English class as part of my graduate fellowship at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.  It was a beautiful, clear, cool morning in Wyoming, just as it was in Manhattan. 
I flicked on the radio at 8 something in the morning as I drove into school and there it was: a plane had flown into one of the twin towers.  I staggered into my day. Classes were canceled for the most part, but I was busy as always, and so it wasn’t until lunchtime that I went into a classroom near the main office to watch the television set up so people could see the news.
People clustered around it, roaming in and out. I ate my salty ramen soup cup as the same two images came again and again on the screen.  Tower One. Tower Two. Tower One. Tower Two. 
I heard whispers around the halls about two married professors who were stranded in New Jersey because all the planes were grounded, about other people who knew people who didn’t know if they were all right. 
The day went by in a blur. What did it all mean? Almost my first thought had been: War. Does this mean we go to war?  That night, I had to write one hour’s worth of stream of consciousness experience for John D’Agata’s lyric essay class, and so I wrote about sitting watching the news as a friend came over. Over the following 10 years, I tweaked that spew into an essay, which follows.

Notes for an Observational Essay

By Tamara Linse

On September 5th, 2001, a Wednesday, I was assigned to record my experiences for one hour and then to write an essay.  As usual, I put it off till the night before, a Tuesday.

(Time: 7:07 p.m.) 
HEADLINE: Terror Attacks on America
BBC America: “The second tower representing American trade and wealth is about to go” Clouds of billowing smoke  “The twin towers utterly destroyed in a single morning”  Blue gray tower collapses, looks like a hand crushing a beer can  Terror in the streets Dust People running and scrambling  A man with blood all over his face:  “A big boom, crawled out, embraced firefighters”  “American government seemed almost powerless against all this”  Bush in Nebraska:  “Faceless cowards  Freedom will be defended”  Looking very serious, flash bulbs, in a suit with a maroon tie, a flag behind him “Make no mistake—The US will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts”  





(My husband comes in to watch.) 
Bush: “An entire society feels itself violated by terror”  “Everything possible to bring those responsible to justice”  Previous Bush speech, now his tie is blue, not maroon:  “Moms’ and Dads’, friends’ and neighbors’ lives ended by evil Terrible sadness and a quiet unyielding anger  Terrorists can shake the foundations of buildings but not of America  Cannot dent the seal of American resolve A beacon for freedom  We saw evil today”  He speaks very slowly, no trouble with words, looking into camera  “We will make no distinction between the terrorists and those who harbor them  We join with all those who stand for freedom  Prayers for all those who grieve  Children’s sense of safety and security  Psalm 23—Even though I walk through the valley  None of us will ever forget this day”  



(Husband:  That’s interesting.  None of us will ever forget.  Me:  Like the Challenger.) 



Bush:  “God Bless America” Plane picture again  Big beautiful black woman: “I was there the first time This is twice” Ambulances by the Pentagon “Track down those responsible  War against Terrorism”  Woman wearing red blouse: “Number of casualties will not be known for some time  More than any of us can imagine” 



(Our phone rings. Husband answers.  It’s our friend B.: He pegged a car by Wal Mart.  It’ll be awhile before he’s here.)
Woman: “American forces on high alert”  Three hueys.  Tony Blair: “War between terrorist and the free world  Barbaric  Their shame for all eternity” Blonde English woman:  “Islamic militant groups suspected  Osama Bin Laden  Afghanistan” Pictures of people and police running  Bush with maroon tie:  “Will hunt down and punish these cowardly attacks” Blair:  “Terrorism a new evil We democracies come together to defeat and eradicate”  Countries express their condolences  Arafat looking old and having a hard time speaking: “Condolences to American people, to Bush”  Hard Talk:  “Barak condemned today’s attack  Hearts and souls are now with the American people” “In the short term, air travel in disarray  Flights recalled and cancelled  Embassies leaving flowers and messages  Americans abroad warned” Two men in black suits, war analysts, one gap-toothed with spectacles:  “No direct evidence will probably be found”  He has a stutter  “Circumstantial evidence   We cannot look at quasi-legal evidence  Groups to be held responsible, will be punished  President Bush must act  US forces all ready to launch attacks”  President Bush: “If it is Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan we will fight a limited war and find where he’s hiding A broader war, not just one or two individuals  A whole range of enemies the length and breadth of   the world Other countries associated are unidentified  Could be Iraq Iran Syria Libya Sudan  An extensive campaign”  Plane picture over and over  Washington commentator: “Presumably the shock waves still reverberating Unprecedented”  Unbuttoned light blue shirt  “If a movie, walk out because implausible and unbelievable”
(Me: Truth is stranger and fiction.)







Commentator: “People are still very tense  We have a certain belief in invincibility Now we have a sense of vulnerability Are the US people convinced by Bush? Man considered not up to the job  He was characteristically brief but said the right things  Plane  Tower on fire and smoking Just one then the second  Both towers catching fire and collapsing   Black woman again,  bleeding: “You want blood? Everyone’s bleeding”
(I switch channels) 
View from below Second plane hits Bystander looks up and then pulls back in horror People running “Unlike Pearl Harbor this was a stealth enemy” Fingers point  Plane sideways into tower  Senator Feinstein:  “I don’t think America can be paper tiger in this instance Rise up as one people and ferret it out”


 

(Time:  7:35 p.m.) 
Man: “World has got to come and help us” 
(Me: Who is that?  Husband: Senator Thompson.  He’s been in movies. Me: Yes. I couldn’t think of his name.)




King: “September 11, 2001, a date that will be injected into our brains”
(Me: HA!)


In the little window the same horror over and over and over and over  Billowing clouds 
HEADLINE:  America Under Attack 
King: “Take care no wholesale slaughter We don’t go in bombs away   Make sure right info Not prejudge How did they get on these airplanes? Slip through security  Sleepers slip on  Having a system that allows them to get on”  BBC America:  “Back in Israel  Palestinians glued to television sets  Hope there was no connection to Middle East Some people who expressed sympathy accustomed to pain so understand how they felt”  Brian Jenkins, expert:  “Nothing compared to this Shocked but not surprised We have anticipated previous incidents”  He looks like Jack Palance in Shane “Boarded with small things Small pen knives Metal objects  Not a standard highjacking  And in fact 3 of the 4 succeeded  Headed for Washington is a safe presumption”


 
(Car pulls into driveway. Me: Must be B. Husband: He’s here? Me: He only has one headlight. Dog barks.) 
News anchor: “25,000 people  Where was the government?  Where’s the  security breeches  We haven’t had a terrorist hijacking in 10 years Clearly was a failure”
(Time:  7:50 p.m.) 
(Friend B. comes in. Us: Hi. It’s crazy. B: Oh.  Husband:  She’s saying we should have been protected.  Setting up for lawsuits. They’ll show this over and over. Look on the right.  B: Oh my God.  Isn’t that unbelievable.)
News anchor: “This is the wreck in Pennsylvania  Not a long flight from Dulles” 
(B: Look at that shit, sheesh.) 
King: “St Louis, hello” Caller: “My question is We seem to have become very complacent”  Building falling Collapsing First building Both of them are down now  People jumping from high windows 
HEADLINE:  WAR 
(Me: Oh, no, war.)
Second building collapses
(Husband: Oh Wow.) 
Man: “This is horrific Then we saw smoke Saw plane on other side People are jumping”
(Husband:  Get the fucking people out of the fucking windows.) 
Man: “Was thrown to the windows Lucky to get out I was on the 36th floor Like an earthquake” Lone help flag out the window waving over and over 
(B:  Shooo. Look at that. That’s just intense. Husband:  I’d think you’d have to be a hell of a pilot. B:  Here we go - Shewack!  He glanced it.  No, he hit it square.)
A woman covered in dust: “Stuff went on top of us Stuff falling like snow, but all this is not snow His skin This is his skin all over me”
(Time:  8:07 p.m.)
Even before 9/11, I have had the sense that I live in an aftermath.  As a child, my life felt like a post-war bombed-out landscape.  And that’s why I’m a writer, why I’ve spent my life trying to figure out what happened? What went before? Why is my life this way?  I don’t know if all people feel this way. And so when 9/11 happened, in some ways it came as no surprise.  Everything was shaken up anyway.  I was in graduate school, a wonderful and hellish experience, and I was in the middle of having a series of five miscarriages, the first at five months.  In the pathetic fallacy that is the writer’s world, 9/11 seemed an extension of my own personal upheaval.  I am also convinced that David Foster Wallace’s suicide was a direct consequence of the anniversary of 9/11 ~ it happened on 9/12 of 2008.  It was the same year I watched 102 Minutes, the documentary that shows cell phone and other lesser known footage of that day. Between those two things, I was shaken up badly that year, seven years after the fact.  Which is kind of crazy, because I’ve never been a huge fan of DFW, although I admire him tremendously. Something about those confluence of those events. 





As far as my writing, 9/11 has shown up very little in it. I have that essay, and I wrote a short story that imagines DFW’s death, but nothing else.  I think what 9/11’s done for my art ~ and what it’s done for our whole country ~ is to shake us out of our complacency, to make us realize we are not a fortress, and to instill an atmosphere of fear, which our politicians have used as an excuse for pushing back the rule of law.
I question sometimes, too, whether this is a function of my age.  As we get older, do we get more measured, more realistic, more conservative?  If 9/11’s done anything, it’s contributed to the dashing of my (sometimes unreasonable) optimism and my (sometimes unreasonable) faith in human nature.  Not just because of the planes themselves but what’s happened since, what we’ve done since.  People are capable of such evil, and always will be, but they are also capable of such miraculous self-sacrifice.  Events impress upon me the ultimate importance of love and connection.



*Tamara Linse—writer, cogitator, recovering ranch girl—broke her collarbone when she was three, her leg when she was four, a horse when she was twelve, and her heart ever since. Raised on a ranch in northern Wyoming, she earned her master’s in English from the University of Wyoming, where she taught writing. Her books include the short story collection How to Be a Man and the novel Deep Down Things, and her short fiction appears in the Georgetown Review, South Dakota Review, and Talking River, among others. She was also a finalist for Arts & Letters and Glimmer Train contests, as well as the Black Lawrence Press Hudson Prize for a book of short stories. She works as an editor for a foundation and a freelancer.






JENNIFER COLELLLA MARTELLI
Poet
Marblehead, Massachusetts
On September 11, 2001, I was six months pregnant with my son and I had just walked my daughter to kindergarten. It was a perfect late summer day: clear, warm. The only television I had on that morning was PBS. When I came home, my friend was calling. “It’s happening,” he said. And then I saw the first tower billowing smoke. And then the next plane. My mother called (she will play a part in this story) next and we watched it “together.” She called later that day--while we still had phone service--to say that there were other attacks.


                          Jennifer's children right after 9/11.

My husband, who travelled a lot at that time, was still in Boston. I called him to say a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and at that point, we didn’t know what this was.
It was so quiet that day--quiet in the sky. And then I became frightened by the fear within that quiet--the stories, the plots. I’d never experienced this type of nationalism.
I didn’t know a lot of things, especially that my mother was just beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s. Every year, on the anniversary of 9/11, when they’d show the towers, she’d call me (until she couldn’t talk) to say that there was something going on in NYC. Every year, we both re-lived 9/11.


                             Jennifer's mother
I don’t know how it has influenced my writing, except to say that I didn’t write for a long while after. But when my poetry returned, it was with maturity, and perhaps a cynicism.




***




JOE MILFORD
Artist
Douglasville, Georgia
On the morning of 9/11, I was working in a furniture warehouse in Brunswick, GA. Typically, we would rotate radio and music privileges between the co-workers, and it was my day, so, for the first part of the shift, I decided to listen to NPR. We opened the shop at eight, and we worked on refinishing, packing, and shipping “shabby chic” items from our small business to private, corporate, and chain store buyers.





I remember when they reported the first plane hitting, and, in my shock, and everyone else’s, we considered this to be some sort of terrible and inexplicable accident. Myself and the other warehouse craftsmen gathered around the radio—suddenly, before we knew it, a second plane hit. We all knew then that this was a planned attack. Our boss suddenly came out of the office and through the warehouse doors and told us all to go home. For whatever reason, my girlfriend at the time, and I, went to the store and bought cases of beer, cases of bottled water, and groceries for about a month. Then, we went home, and I think we both watched TV for about 18 hours straight.



I was working on many creative ventures during this time period, and 9/11 did have an understandably immense effect on me. There was this illusion that this kind of thing could not happen on American soil.
I had issues with the federal government, Vietnam, “American Imperialism”, the many Bush administrations, all things conspiratorial, etc.
However, the 9/11 attacks actually sent me into a very contradictory place—and the legislation that followed them did as well. Suddenly, and since the incident, terrorism is now a part of everyday conversation in this country, and the purveying fear factor of that is always hovering.



I wrote the line, “the manta ray of the apocalypse” after the 9/11 attacks. The idea that these huge black or white or both wings were hovering over all of us and flying across the landscape or the American zeitgeist or the American psyche because of the attacks. The two towers made an “11”, and they fell on the eleventh, and I know the occult implications of this.



Still, I imagine that my writing has never been the same since that day, and maybe I am not even sure exactly why that is.



9/11 affected me spiritually in many ways—essentially, what I thought was my grounding in American folklore and literature and the American Dream, etc. suddenly was shattered.



Don DeLillo once said, “Fear is self-awareness raised to a higher level.”




Still, I did not want my awareness to be raised because of the violence of the events of that day. I think that I honestly started to write in more fragmented ways after that day. After those events, my use of the lyric turned more into my use of the soundbyte. My work lost music in order to make room for urgency, to a degree—this could be good or bad, I guess, but I think this is as honest as I can be about how the event changed my worldview, and thus, my mind, my pen, my sensibility.

* Joseph Victor Milford is a Professor of English and a Georgia writer. His first collection of poems, Cracked Altimeter, was published by BlazeVox Press in 2010. 





He was the host of The Joe Milford Poetry Show, where he hosted, via podcast, over 300 American and Canadian poets, he is a co-founder of BACKLASH PRESS [ /react-text http://www.backlashpress.com/ react-text: 191 ], and he is the editor of RASPUTIN: A Poetry Thread (a literary journal of poetry:  /react-text http://rasputinpoetry.blogspot.com/ react-text: 194 ).





PAULETTE MOORE
Documentary Film Maker
Harrisonburg, Virginia

“TODAY MAY BE THE END OF INNOCENCE AND FREEDOM”
I was in New York City the day of 9/11.  The evening before, I was part of a premier at the Museum of Broadcasting for a PBS show I’d produced.  The entire production team, about 10 of us, had travelled from Washington DC to celebrate the completion of a grueling year of filmmaking.
         My partner was there as well and we woke up late (in) the morning to the sound of the cleaning crew blasting the televisions.  We left our room to see about the noise and realized the second building had just collapsed.  I fell to my knees in front of the television.  It was absurd and terrifying that we’d slept through such devastation less than a mile from our hotel.
         The weather was the most beautiful I’d ever experienced in New York; crisp, sunny, spectacular.   We left the hotel and stood in the middle of the street watching huge smoke billow out form the burning rubble over lower Manhattan.  There were no cars.  We walked uptown, away form the site.  We had access to video cameras, but this was one event I had no interest in experiencing through a lens.
         We spent time at St. Patrick’s cathedral and then ate lunch, but nothing felt right.  We were in shock.  “Today may be the end of innocence and freedom.”  My partner wrote in our journal.  “Is this another test of society?  Will we fail?”



         Our cameraman had a car and we tried throughout the day to leave but bridges would open and shut down almost immediately.  Around 5 p.m. we’d made headway driving north on Riverside Highway and were in sight of George Washington Bridge when traffic stopped again.  A convoy of massive dump trucks from New Jersey rolled onto both decks of the bridge, crossed the Hudson toward Manhattan, then rumbled south past us as we stood outside our cars.  They were already on their way to the Towers site.          
         Later, on the bridge we drove past hundreds of American refugees in disheveled office clothes, many carrying boxes and their shoes.  As we exited the bridge to New Jersey heading south toward DC, we caught our last glimpse of New York, shining in golden sunset with that thick plume of smoke where the Towers once stood.
         Witnessing the events of 9/11 first hand opened a sense of deep collective grief that I’d not known or acknowledged before that day.  The trauma was extreme and that seemed to force me out of my role of filmmaker and possibly for the first time in my adult life I experienced an unmediated news event.  I chose not to hide behind a lens or a title and stepped into the devastation as terrifying, and undeniably present.  9/11 was so REAL to me.
         In the aftermath I heard people say “9/11 seemed like a movie” or “It felt like a scene from Independence Day.”  Those words startled and worried me.  



         In the years since I’ve become focused on how and why media is created and consumed.  I now teach media and societal change at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  



        In our courses we think deeply about concepts of relationship and responsibility to those whose stories we amplify, to our fellow crewmembers and to our audience.  We consider how making films can become an opportunity to create a safe and even sacred space by the care we take in interviewing, filming, editing, and presenting.    



         Witnessing 9/11 also presented me with the intriguing concept that some things may be too sacred, too traumatic, too powerful to be re-storied in the ways we understand a media narrative.  Possibly we need metaphor or poetry to help us.  Perhaps we need time, space, silence and emptiness to enter into our filmmaking, and thus into our humanness.
         These ideas are still forming with me.  They are unfinished and likely unfathomable at this point.  But something began that day.  I think I became more of a human and probably a better filmmaker.
         *Paulette Moore is a filmmaker, educator, media artist, and journalist. Her 25 years of freelance work includes directing, producing, and writing for National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, PBS, and truTV.
         Moore teaches media arts and peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University and is a consultant with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland.  Moore has an MA in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and is a doctoral candidate in media and communications at the European Graduate School in Saas Fee, Switzerland.


  

        Her recent collaboration with Eastern Mennonite University students “To Wisconsin With Love” tracks a northern Wisconsin community’s resistance to massive open-pit iron mine.  Find the full movie at https://vimeo.com/92711437




THYLIAS MOSS
Photographer, Poet, & Professor
Ypsilanti, Michigan
I was in my office as a professor of English, talking with a student David Austern, I believe. Early that morning of mornings. We rushed to my window and saw nothing that would make us nervous; but it was obvious that what some of us thought of as the world had changed. I knew I couldn’t, shouldn’t hold class as expected; by then anyway, my classes had become collaborative, and there was no need for me to proclaim myself as more knowledgeable than anyone else, and these unfolding events proved that.            
At first it was difficult to believe. But then phone calls started coming, and some of the “truth” was revealed.
Down the hall from my office were televisions, so we rushed to them and then we could see for ourselves... No one changed the channel.



Some of my students were Arabic, and from various locations in the Middle East and India (some of my heritage and my son’s is from that region... also...) --it was most difficult for them; just the idea that such destruction of human life could occur on that scale --without formal declarations of war... We are just as brown. But then, I thought, every once and a while, that this was a form of political equalizing... I rushed home as soon as I could to my son, Ansted, who was ten years old at the time.   
At that time, I was still married, so of course I contacted my spouse, and asked him if he was aware of what was happening. Then we watched events unfold together...
I was already doing “limited fork theory work” --all about how things branch, and re-branch, in order, I feel, intensely, to connect with other things, eventually through processes of connecting --briefly-- on every possible scale, everything will have had an opportunity to connect, and not all connections are pleasant, but necessary --love the intimacies suggested and implied by connecting! --that is also why I’m “Forker Gryle” (and not “Thylias Moss” on Facebook) --this is also a spiritual endeavor for me! --meant to alter lives, meant to offer means to shift directions --all of this became clearer because of those 09/11/2001events. Everything I do is limited fork, and the events gave me reason, even more reason than I had at first... --also wasn’t lost on me at all, how the World Trade Center seemed to be covered with forks as in:

All must function within limits! --how can we not? --even senses we use to interpret whatever we encounter, are limited! --ears can’t hear everything, even within human limits, and it’s already known that other ears are more sensitive to higher and lower sounds --such as what could be heard around 9/11.


ANSTED MOSS
Musician and Poet
Ann Arbor, Michigan
*NOTE:  Below is an excerpt from an article written about Ansted Moss in 1991, right after the 9/11 attacks, when he was ten years old:
“At an age when most kids only have a library card, 10-year-old Ansted Moss has an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers card to add to his wallet. Ansted also has recorded, produced and distributed his own CD. Titled “Song of Hope,” the CD single was released in response to Sept. 11.
“I didn’t want to say what everyone else was saying—I didn’t want to just ask ‘why,’ ” Ansted says. “I wanted to take action.”
“Song of Hope” generated $1,000, every cent of which Ansted has donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
Nicola Rooney, owner of Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, provided the outlet that Ansted needed to sell “Song of Hope.” Calling Ansted’s situation a “special case,” Rooney did not take any profit from sales of Ansted’s CD. Rooney says she was so impressed by his initiative, she felt that the least she could do was help.
“Ansted is a very mature young man and very friendly,” Rooney recalls. “He was not pushy in any way, but was quietly self-assured when he asked me if I would sell ‘Song of Hope.’ ”
Ansted wants his message of hope to extend beyond Nicola’s Books. According to his mother, Thylias Moss, award-winning poet and professor of English, Ansted would like to travel to New York City and Washington, D.C., this summer.
“He intends to distribute his CD to children there who need hope,” Thylias says. “That is what he’d like—to give away as many as he can, free.”
Although Thylias supports her son’s musical endeavors, she is careful not to take credit for his efforts. “I like him to speak for himself and represent himself,” she says.
In fact, while Ansted composed and recorded “Song of Hope” at Break In Studios in Ypsilanti, Thylias insists that she was a silent observer and did not interfere with the creative process. “Ansted has expressed concern about being original,” she says. “He doesn’t like taking advice or else there’s a question of who created it.”
Donn Bialik, a former student of Thylias’ and co-owner of Break In Studios, worked closely with Ansted on “Song of Hope” and observed Ansted’s individuality first-hand.
“His natural inclination was to ignore suggestions that I made to him,” Bialik recollects. “This was probably because Thylias has taught him to go with his gut, to do what he wants to do with his music.”
Bialik suggested that the drum beat for “Song of Hope” be more regular, but Ansted had other ideas in mind.
“I didn’t want the rhythm to be a steady march, because hope is imperfect,” explains Ansted. “When people are marching they might stumble but they’re trying, so there’s hope.”
Ansted also wrote “Poem of Hope,” which he recites on a bonus track of the CD.

Poem of Hope
By Ansted Moss
People running everywhere __as the gargantuan cloud of smoke __filled the streets; __marine life and oceans awaited __the sixth grade students in one of the planes, __instead, a fiery closing– __but hope is still there __as firefighters and police officers stay __and try to continue even in the night __because hope is still there, __stars are still there __and flowers and trees stand in the day __making the flag in nature. __The smoke rises like bread in Manhattan ovens __and above the Pentagon __then spreads __looking like overlapping doves, __looking like overlapping memories __and expanding hope.”


TIMOTHY SCHMALZ
Sculptor
Kitchener, Ontario Canada and Hong Kong
“I was sculpting in my studio a sculpture of one body – many different saints working in composition with Jesus – a very nice piece.   My associate came into to tell me.  Then, like every other person around the western world, we set in front of our televisions in what seemed like forever in watching details.
I don’t think anyone knew to what extent this terror would reach.   I certainly remember having the feeling that all we held as a consistent assurance that the world is safe, we are safe, my family is safe, -  for a minute, just a blink – were basically questioned and feared for its safety and security
I lock my self in my studio and I would almost be like a monk at prayer working every morning until exhaustion on sculptures, mostly Christian sculptures.  So interesting that this horror and terror crept into my fortress of prayer and artistic creating.   The studio at the time had no windows and no contact with what’s happening outside.   This certainly crept in and that’s how it felt, in a sense. This fortress, this sanctuary where I make sculptures to glorify Jesus, in a sense, was invaded by this horror. 
Well it changed my artwork to the extent that it changed me.  I think there were many North Americans who had this belief that everything was like us.  Every person in the world was an American, a Christian.  Those people in other countries living rough on the edges of marginalized poverty; their aspirations were to mimic our Christian American lifestyle and our philosophy.
The wakeup call of 9/11 essentially was that people in the world are very different than our Christian western world.  That’s interesting when you are a Christian sculptor and you think we are not necessarily the majority out there.
If you look at the world population and see that these people perhaps do not want to immolate us with our morality and Christian views, I think it changes the way you conduct your life. 
I believe as a Christian artist you hold what you have in your faith as something a little bit more precious, more valuable, simply because you realize it is not the omnipresent thing.  Because of that it has to be represented to the rest of the world in a way that hopefully the other people in the world will aspire to.  But, also, something that you feel we have to protect within yourself within our own culture.
What’s happened with the beheading of an American journalist (James Foley) has infiltrated my studio peace again.  It’s the same feeling one had at September 11. 
I feel that my responsibility has just become heightened in a sense.  I need to do the best I can on representing Jesus in order to bring people into the faith and not turn them away.  I think artwork is powerful, and to use this sword of art is very important to reconvert Christians and to also show to the rest of the world the value and awesomeness of Christianity and that’s my sword.  And it can be very powerful if the sword is very sharp and you know how to use it well. 
I listen to the King James Version of the Bible in my studio.  My studio is full of these amazing words that are so powerful and to give visual representation to them is my purpose.               




                                                                                                                          ANYA SILVER                              http://www.anyasilverpoet.com  
Poet                                                                                       
Macon, Georgia 
What is your personal experience of 9/11?
I vividly remember walking into the living room that morning and watching the second plane fly into the World Trade Center tower.  I was confused, and thought that I was seeing the trailer for a movie.  There was a profound sense of unreality.  I sensed that something had profoundly changed in America and that a feeling of invulnerability and safety was gone. 



That evening, I went out for dinner, and there were people in the streets laughing and drinking as though nothing had happened.  It’s curious to me that even in times of catastrophe, individual lives simply continue, ordinary and mostly unaffected.  The scene reminded me of W. H. Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts.”
http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/poems/musee-des-beaux-arts/

How did 9/11 influence your art and/or your faith?
I wrote one poem about 9/11, or specifically about the U.S.’s subsequent invasion of Iraq, but otherwise, I don’t think it influenced my art.  I have suffered personal experiences of illness that are much more immediate to me than 9/11 and that have changed my art more significantly.



In terms of faith, 9/11 brought up the old questions of theodicy and evil that I’d grappled with while studying the Holocaust, the starvation of Ukraine, and other genocides. 


                 "Selection" of Hungarian Jews on the ramp at the death camp    
                       Auschwitz-II (Birkenau) in Poland during German occupation, 
                       May/June 1944. Jews were sent either to work or to the gas 
                       chamber. The photograph is part of the collection known as the  
                       Auschwitz Album.


                 Starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933. In Famine in 
                       the Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933: a memorial exhibition, 
                       Widener Library, Harvard University. Cambridge, Mass.: 
                         Harvard College Library: Distributed by Harvard University 
                         Press, 1986. Procyk, Oksana. Heretz, Leonid. Mace, James 
                         E. (James Earnest). ISBN: 0674294262. Page 35. Initially 
                         published in Muss Russland Hungern? [Must Russia Starve?],      
                         published by Wilhelm Braumüller, Wien [Vienna] 1935.

When certain fundamentalist Christians accused  Americans of bringing on the catastrophe through homosexuality and abortion, I knew that my own faith had to explicitly reject such a concept of God.  I don’t believe that God intervenes in history to punish the doers of evil (not that people who are LGBTQ or have had abortions are evil).  People confuse their own motivations and desires with God’s. 


                                
an icon belonging to the Romanov Family before they were murdere



Second, I have no doubt that God was with those who suffered at 9/11:  those who died in the destruction of the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania; those who died trying to rescue them; the friends and families of the dead; the aid workers.  I think that the spirit of God moved with mercy and love through the hatred.


                         St. Rapheal Healing Saint

Third, it became important to me to speak out against Islamaphobia, because I worried about the safety and well-being of my Muslim brothers and sisters.  I had to fight an instinctive fear of Islam in myself and remind myself that I could not judge a religion by the actions of a few.  I would be lying if I said that I never felt those questions.  But ultimately, 9/11 challenged me not to hate and not to condone the hatred of others.  
Still, I have no answers for the fundamental problem of evil.








RAM KRISHNA SING
Professor of English, Department of Humanities & Social Sciences at Indian School of Mines. 
Varanasi, India
On that fateful day, I was at home in Dhanbad, doing my routine teaching and other chores, as usual. It was a normal day like any other day but for a 'flash' about the terrorists' attack in the US on some news channel on TV. It was more serious that it initially appeared. For more information, I switched the channel and spent several hours watching the details, now history, pouring in from various quarters on the CNN and BBC. 

Though we were far away from the World Trade Center that was attacked, the event gave us some very anxious moments. My father called up from Varanasi to express his anxiety about the safety of my sister's son, working in the US. He was also worried about my other sister who had left for Stockholm to attend some conference.

I was rather more worried, like my father, about the implications of 'high alert' announced by the Government of India for the defense officers. We didn't want our son's leave to be cancelled. He had planned to leave for Dhanbad on Sept 13. 
We could be relieved only after receiving information from each one the next day.

The 9/11 incident made me think: It never pays a country to promote terrorism in any form. As I noted in my diary on Sept 12:
"I won't be surprised of the US now attacks Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestinians, Iraq, Iran, Libya that have been promoting fundamentalism and terrorizing people. The first three countries are most susceptible to the US action....
But it's shocking to see thousands of people simply being killed in America. The way the two towers of the World Trade Center were collapsed is historic in that the US could not prevent hijacking of its airplanes from its cities nor could its intelligence services, Pentagon, satellite surveillance, missiles etc could be effective before the meticulous planning of Osama bin Laden and his terrorist supporters.  The American planes in America were used to turn to rubbles the Pentagon and the WTC and several thousands of people killed in a few minutes?  
It's time every country reconsiders its options and acts swiftly to demolish every terrorist outfit in every nook and corner of the globe.  The Human Rights politics as well as the politics of Terrorism must end, if civilization and humanity is to survive."



As far as the impact of 9/11 on my poetry is concerned, I notice no major change in my practice. I have possibly progressively taken to haiku and tanka, rather than any longer form of poetry writing just as there has been more ironical reflection on politics and religion.
I have been a university professor, teaching English language skills to students of earth and mineral sciences and engineering in a technical university, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, for over three decades. I have also been practicing poetry besides guiding research in English language and literature. 
My poetry reveals my faith. I believe in unity of humankind and equality of sexes.  I recognize the world as one earth, one nation, one country, just as I love and respect all the races, tribes, nationalities, religions and languages. I accept the spiritual oneness of people and my concerns cut across national boundaries. I believe in living without prejudices as man belonging to the whole world, honest to myself. 

The themes of spiritual search, an attempt to understand myself and the world around me, social injustice and disintegration, human suffering, degradation of relationship -- political corruption, fundamentalism, hollowness of urban life and its false values, prejudices, loneliness, sex, love, irony etc, are prominent in my poems. It tears my psyche when I see all around me the ugly dance of religious intolerance and fundamentalism, ethnic, cattiest, and communal violence, rigidity and narrowness of attitude and behavior, degradation of human dignity, political and moral turpitude, and the suicidal urge for self-destruction. I often feel I don't belong to the place or people here. 

Born, brought up and educated in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh, India), I have been interested in Indian English writing, especially poetry, and English for Specific Purposes, especially for science and technology. I have authored more than 160 research articles, 170 book reviews, and 39 books. Many of my poems have been translated into Italian, Greek, German, Spanish, Romanian, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Japanese, Serbian, Croatian, Slovene, Bulgarian, Portuguese, Crimean Tatar, Hindi, Punjabi, Kannad, Tamil, Bangla, Esperanto etc. 

New Indian English Poetry: An Alternative Voice: R.K.Singh(ed. I.K.Sharma, 2004), R.K.Singh's Mind and Art: A Symphony of Expressions (ed: Rajni Singh, 2011),Critical Perspectives on the Poetry of R.K.Singh, D.C.Chambial and I.K.Sharma (ed: K.V. Dominic, 2011), and Anger in Contemporary Indian English Poetry ( Vijay Vishal, 2014) are some of the books that explore my creativity since the 1970s. My bibliography appears in some 35 publications in the UK, USA, India and elsewhere. 


CARLOS SOLIS
Painter
Atlanta, Georgia
At the time I was living in Illinois.  I was in my living room watching the moment when the second plane hit the tower.  My mother was with me and she started crying uncontrollably and citing versus from the Bible.



If you look at my work, you could see several elements and symbols related or connected to my faith.  I would say that 80% of my work as some kind of religious undertone.


SUSANNE SWANSON-BERNARD
Poet, Photographer, & Freelance Writer
Boise, Idaho
I was in my van on the way to Gowen Field with my boy. I had kept him home from school oddly that day, because I had had a bad feeling that on that very day something bad was going to happen. The feeling was so overwhelming, that I actually called my boy in sick. He was 8 years old. We were delivering a stray dog to the pound. My son and I heard the report on the radio. We were both in shock. At first we didn’t know what to think, and I felt that bad feeling again. I wanted to pull the van over and just embrace my boy and cry. I was so glad that he was close to me and with me. I remember it as if it were yesterday.
This had not been the first time that I had had such a feeling. Three days before the space shuttle exploded I dreamt of an odd-looking plane exploding and I wrote about it in a letter to a friend in Denver who received the letter on that terrible day. He was stunned and called me up immediately. I was just as shocked then. I was sick to my stomach. 
This day my son and I just stayed close to one another and later huddled in front of the TV. We tried to understand this kind of hatred, which was foreign to us.
My art became more focused for a period of time on anti-war images. I shot an image titled “Praying for Peace” that made several magazines and the front cover of our local independent news magazine. It was an image of my boy on his belly with his hands covering his head as if ducking from a bomb. He had a peace sign painted on his back. Many of my images were anti-war. I also submitted to a show at SPARK the Social Public Art Resource Center at L.A. to an Anti-War show. My image Praying for Peace was selected with 2 others as the best of Venice Protest Art.



As far as my faith was concerned, I prayed nightly that this war would end. I would never want my boy to have to see the front lines first hand. I would break his leg myself first. War is never the answer. My faith remains strong and always has. It has been through dark days and has always remained strong.
* Susanne Swanson-Bernard has had a camera in her hand since the age of 7 years old. She was born in Germany and has enjoyed visiting much of Europe, including Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.
"As an artist and writer, I feel that all we see and do in life is worthy of some form of documentation.  Ultimately I am drawn to the grace of nature, and all other subject matter. I am keenly aware of the simple refinement in the compositions I see. We are always in a state of transition, and all of life is ephemeral. Having captured a fleeting moment, or discovered something very simple, yet unique in my mind's eye reminds me that there is value and worth in everything."



STEVE WICKHAM
Registered Safety Practitioner & Qualified, Unordained Christian Minister     Perth, Western Australia                                                                                

REFLECTIONS ON 9/11:  REMEMBERING WHERE WE WERE
Activist and Actor Mat Damon on 9/11:  “The day is seared into who I am more than I’d even like.  It was weird because I stepped outside my apartment, looked up and saw it happening and then went back in and just watched CNN because I just wanted information.  I remember everything about that day.” 

Ten years on and so much has changed in our world; most for the good.  But post-Global Financial Crisis, and with much ballooning debt, do we feel safer?  Perhaps not that way, but at least it’s a more sanitized version of insecurity.
For Americans, September 11 will always be etched into the psyche of a national history that neither needed it, nor was at the time prepared for it.  But nevertheless it shaped the nation and the ripples were felt indelibly over the whole globe.
It would be unfair to single out one event as responsible for so much change.  But, the September 11, 2001, event certainly has been the biggest this millennium thus far. 
The Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, and the more recent tsunami off Japan – whilst incomprehensible in environmental magnitude – still have not been, or will not be, catalysts for change as September 11, 2001 was. 



Just about everybody who was old enough remembers where they were and what they were doing when those twin towers were struck and collapsed; besides the attacks on the Pentagon and the ill-fated United 93 flight where passengers, in overcoming the terrorists, bravely brought the aircraft down.
Strange as it seems, I was oblivious to the event, only learning about it more than twelve hours later. But one didn't need to be a witness to the actual events to witness the world's response. There is no question this event changed the world overnight.
Wherever we were on that history-changing day meant we could watch it unfold before our eyes, live on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX or any other network. No matter how terrifying the event was, we, like Matt Damon, wanted more information.



Remembering where we were is an important part of our personal, familial, and national history. It defines or redefines us, securing us in our identity. We become different because of it. The reactions of the others who were around us during those terrifying minutes and the disbelieving hours that ensued radiated into our memories.
They shared an intimacy with us, and thus we with them, which is a rare glimpse.
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
-Joshua 1:9 (NRSV)


Jump from the burning building to a certain death or die from fire - not much of a choice in living your last moments. Courage is the thing of life and death. What else could prevail?
As relatives and friends consider the obvious stark gravity that was laid before the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks they are compelled to redefine courage by those terms. When death is imminent there's no going through the motions.
Courage comes to the fore when adrenaline shoots through the veins of crisis. With no choice, the geographically forlorn resolved to do, that horrible day, what we cannot even contemplate. Each one is a hero or heroine.
DO NOT VEER OFF COURSE
The central theme of early Joshua is obedience as an ally to conquest. If the nation of Israel were prepared to obey the law, not turning to the left or the right of it, the LORD would bless their strength and courage.



Journeying through this book on the way to the Promised Land we find that strength and courage were absolute necessities. Not many of us could understand the clear and present danger in that. Our lives are not threatened daily, and our conquests are generally mild and self-apportioned. We get away, generally, with disobedience.
Courage and obedience come together to the blessing of our plans in the LORD.  But beyond the blessing, courage and obedience are still found entwined.
Our September 11 heroes and heroines found themselves in this territory. Obedience had one line. No other choice remained. Their courage will live on as an indelible legacy.
THE PROVISION OF COURAGE - A FACT OF LIFE
No true hero is found that way by intention.  Heroism is commonly found in the shriveling fearful, but those without a choice; the way of obedience made plain and inevitable. This is why most people who are tagged "heroes" are that way reluctantly so. At the time they had no choice, or they made a split-second choice. They obeyed their instinct.
Courage comes as a necessity to get through the most impossible situations life can deliver. Let us not assume that because we are safely cocooned in our present lives that life will remain that way.
If we were thrust into a situation where alternatives to courage were to all but dry up, the LORD would then provide the courage to get through. Let us be thankful if we've never experienced this, not fearful for the possibility of it in the future, and prepared in any case.
We will have the capacity for strength and courage when we need it. God will see to that. At these times, obedience is predictable but, nonetheless, commendable. We should revere the memory of the September 11 heroes and heroines who epitomized unenviable courage and obedience.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
          *Steve Wickham is a Baptist pastor who holds degrees in Science, Divinity, and Counseling. Steve writes at :  http://epitemneip-epitomid.blogspot.com.au



SCOTT WILKERSON
Dramatist, Poet & Professor
Columbus, Georgia
September 11, 2001 began as a beautiful day.  I recall not only that the sky was blue and clear but also that it was uncharacteristically cool for early autumn in Alabama.  That morning, in freshman composition, we were thinking about the problem of language.  I had asked my students to consider the metaphysical context for writing:  What are we hoping to accomplish with words?  What affect does the artifice of language have on the very subjects of our contemplation?  What, indeed, is language?  And does any of this really matter?  We were thinking seriously about the world and the way in which language informs our understanding.
As fragmented reports of the attacks in New York City spread across the campus, a grim ripple of doom pushed through our classroom. And from the second-floor window, I saw a young man running across the parking lot.  Dislocated voices in the hallway told us a blue sky had gone dark with terror. 
There was no language for this moment.
I wish to say it directly:  I love the United States of America.  And while I wept openly, unapologetically for the victims of 9-11 and their families, I confess my deepest despair felt somehow more personal, even more primordial.  Although I understood immediately that 9-11 had transformed our conception of the geo-political world, it has taken me far longer to grasp what it has meant for my art.  In my plays and poetry, I see one essential preoccupation:  the metaphor of the labyrinth. 
And if that labyrinth has taken many forms in my writing (desire, knowledge, memory, dreams), it is also true that I have never found a way out.  Indeed, I have said elsewhere that I am happily lost in my own labyrinth, principally because I find it the ideal laboratory for my style of experimental Neo-classicism. 
I suppose my play Seven Dreams of Falling, a comic retelling of the Icarus myth, is a straightforward example.  At the Los Angeles premier last year, Stephen Foster who created the starting role said he wanted to help Icarus escape his life of endless repetition (forever flying and falling in a pre-determined narrative), but he was uncertain about the meaning of that escape.  I had to agree.  
The implications are harrowing.  Every act of the imagination is necessarily also an act of transformation and faith.   This is a complicated problem and in an incomprehensible world, working through this puzzle has made possible the mapping of my own artistic labyrinth. 
Of course, I am not searching for the exit (Sartre assures us there is none) but, rather, for further reaches of complexity, mystery, and beauty.  Reality itself is a labyrinth and there seems to me no point in denying that essential fact, but nihilism and hopelessness are incoherent solutions.  The only intellectually honest answer is to make better art.  To be sure, the horror of that day, thirteen years ago is still present to me, even the tears, no small degree of anger.   But in this dangerous, uncertain post 9-11 reality, faith and art have saved me.  I believe they can save us all.                                      
*Carey Scott Wilkerson, poet and dramatist, is author of two poetry collections, Threading Stone and Ars Minotaurica.  His play, Seven Dreams of Falling, premiered in 2013 at the Elephant Theatre in Los Angeles and published by Black Box Press.  Two short plays, Ariadne in Exile and The Lydian Mode will be published in September by Negative Capability Press’s 22rd-year anthology and in the journal Otoliths respectively.  The Ariadne Songs, his collaboration with composer Angelia Schwickert, will be available on iTunes in September.  He has been a Writing Fellow at the Lillian E Smith Center for Creative Arts, a Visiting Writer at Clayton University, and Guest Artist at the University of South Alabama, and the University of Mississippi.  He is editor, with Melissa Dickson, of an anthology of Georgia poetry, to be published by Negative Capability Press in 2015.  He holds a BA and MA from Auburn University and an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.  He teaches at Columbus State University.



BOBBY R WOODALL  
http://www.bobbyrwoodall.com                             
Western novelist                                               
Columbus, Indiana                                                                 
     I was at home and my sister phoned me and said, “Bobby, hurry and turn your TV on.  A plane has hit one of the twin towers in NYC!”         
    

     I was in time to see the 2nd plane hit and stayed glued to my TV after I made sure that my weapons were gathered and loaded, for at the time I thought the USA had been invaded.   I also prayed for the lost souls and their families.  I can remember as a Marine being in Hawaii in 1963 when JFK was assassinated.”

2 comments:

  1. A very imaginative, experimental, and positive reflection on the 9/11 incident that changed politics and culture of the current century.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Honored to be a part of this 911 remembrance, spiritual and creative. Thanks for including me Chris--

    ReplyDelete