Their responses, photos, and examples of their artwork and/or symbols of their spirituality are included in this blog post.
I have been radically changed as much as our culture has by what happened; in particular by the magnitude of loss and suffering and the scope of people’s immediate, generous responses. Thousands answered the call of their vocations to give over their lives to helping others and thousands more reacted out of irresistible compassion. Although I was not writing fiction at the time of 9/11, there are repetitive themes that occur in my work, reflecting that day and the agony of events that followed. My characters discover the resilience of relationships while struggling with loss, grief, sorrow, confusion, weariness, revenge, justice, compassion, mercy, and love. They do terrible things to one another, and they exceed themselves.
When I came home, I turned on NPR while I did the breakfast dishes. I soon realized this wasn't a single-engine plane that had gone astray and crashed into a building, that it was something much, much larger. I turned on television in time to see the towers fall. . . . Some of my friends had adult children who worked in NYC; there were miraculous stories of alarms that didn't go off, subways that were missed, meetings that were postponed. . . .
How did 9/11 influence your art and/or your faith?
The goldenrod’s gone to seed, tarnished and rusty,
AFTER SEPTEMBER 11
I remember waking up and seeing the shocking images of the World Trade Center on fire, and when one of the towers collapsed, I panicked thinking about the aftermath. While the news celebrated the American public's outpouring of mutual support and grief for each other, it also reported of increased hatred toward minorities particularly those who had Arabic sounding names or Middle Eastern appearances.
In fact, on the morning of 9/11, a fellow student in my cohort said that government officials appeared at his apartment, woke him up, and detained him downtown with other brown people for an unspecified reason. (He didn't know about the terrorist attacks until after he was released.)
In the ensuing weeks, President George Bush's incendiary rhetoric about the Axis of Evil, which included North Korea, terrified me because it recalled the language of Japanese internment and Time Magazine articles about how to visually distinguish between persons of Chinese and Japanese origin." "Where are you from?"--the complicated question--became even more challenging and racist with its post-9/11 follow-up: "North Korea or South Korea?" But beyond strangers' disconcerting gaze, post-9/11 racism emerged as a threat that people of color were told to understand and to excuse in the name of national security.
In this way, I deepened my faith in poetry to intervene, complicate, problematize, slow down, re-cast, re-imagine, and say again in precise and memorable language how we look upon each other. We are neighbors, not others. An act of imagination is an action. It is not a luxury.
I was a recent college graduate. So even though my adulthood was truly beginning, nothing could have prepared me for this. I was going through my own life challenges at the time, but I wouldn't dare try to compare what I went through to the loss of loved ones and the devastation of that one day.
this is not good
I am almost sorry to disappoint them.
I dream a child stands
Why I chose to become a writer in a society so antagonistic to intellectual pursuits is a mystery to me. All I remember is being utterly electrified by Bob Dylan’s lyrics and music. Mainly the lyrics. I wanted more. Thanks to some older friends and sympathetic teachers, I discovered Dada and Surrealism.
Not in a culture that refers to a technocratic entrepreneur like Steve Jobs as a “visionary,” or frames highly aggressive moguls like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates as benign philanthropists. Or, for that matter, makes a candidacy like Donald Trump even remotely possible.
Poet/ Associate Professor & Head of the Department of English J.V. College
Left, the only surviving sculpture of Julius Ceaser made during his lifetime. Right, map of Julius Ceaser's Roman empire in 40AD
view of the East side of the end Berlin Wall, taken in December of 19990 after the border was opened.
That dream has been dashed, and other disillusionments have followed. Besides a still-unresolved intervention in Afghanistan and the disastrous “war of choice” in Iraq, they include inadequate responses to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Even at Ground Zero, New York’s officials and developers failed to rebuild the World Trade Center site in a timely manner and to memorialize the victims and responders with the dignity they deserve.
Soldiers quickly march to the ramp of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter that will return them to Kandahar Army Air Field on Sept. 4, 2003. The Soldiers were searching in Daychopan district, Afghanistan, for Taliban fighters and illegal weapons caches
Days after 9/11 in Washington Square Park
Iranian girl with her mother turning candle light at Tehran, remembering the September 11 attacks
Jeff Stevenson with Wendy
Jeff has had many articles, novelettes, short stories and flash fiction published, and film rights to all of his nonfiction and fiction projects are represented by Steve Fischer of the Agency for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. Jeff is currently at work completing his first collection of short stories and a two-part supernatural suspense novel.
We were essentially in the shadow of the John Hancock building, one of the tallest buildings in Chicago. The Sears tower wasn’t too far, either. At that point, we weren’t sure if there were more planes, or if Chicago was a target.
My bosses wouldn’t let us go home. That was the day I knew I was leaving that job. Slowly over time they had revealed themselves to be racist, homophobic, sexist jerks, and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They were more worried about losing television ad sales. It made me question a lot of things. I cried a lot that day, the visuals so shocking. I still have a hard time watching any footage of it.
I can remember wandering around downtown Chicago, we had to step out for a moment to get some fresh air, we wanted to get lunch, and it was a ghost town. The streets were deserted. We had to walk many blocks to even find something open. It was eerie.
Art work representing Richard Thomas's new magazine Gamut
In my writing, I quite often talk about evil in the world, in many forms, and how we sometimes draw it to ourselves. I think of the Eye of Sauron turning and latching on. Once you’ve been seen, you can’t be unseen. So I know that in that moment, 9/11, it did put a hunk of coal, dead and lost, in the center of my heart. I think we all lost a lot that day, a certain amount of innocence. But I’d like to think we have learned, and are getting better, trying to make the world a safer place.
I left the US for the first time last summer, flying to Transylvania to teach, and it really did change how I saw the US, understanding we are NOT the center of the universe. There is danger everywhere, and sometimes it’s random, there is chaos. Other times, it is earned.
Simmer in Brosov County, Transylvania
My writing has always had a darkness to it, but it definitely has hope, too. I have lately changed my work, to put love at the center, instead of death. I still write dark stories, but there is more redemption, more promise in tomorrow, and ourselves, I think.
Travelstead with finance Heidi
Neither will I forget the intricately-carved mihrabs in the Grand Mosque where I glimpsed the lengths to which we will still insist on beauty even as we elsewhere explore the ruin we heap upon one another.
Poet, Photographer, & Documentary Filmmaker Louisville, Kentucky
Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that terrorists were able to pull this off. Sadly, I wondered when something like this would happen here. Humans have a violent history and have been hammering down each other’s back doors since we could pick a club.
I think a good deal of this hammering can be resolved with a balance of equally between genders, less focus on coercion, materialism. The whole spin is on power, but we don’t often find a healthy way towards power. Until we do, there’s going to continue to be a terrible amount of doors knocked down.
Pilot Charles Burlingame of American Airline Flight #77
Pilot Jason Dahl of United Airlines Flight #93
One mother told me she worked at the World Trade Center, but was on a week’s vacation. She really hugged her son. Every parent was concerned that terrorists were going to come and blow up the Lower East Side. What people love is what they fear to lose, no matter how inconsequential it may seem to the rest of the world. Going to get children made me feel like I was doing something and I was grateful for the job.
"Skipping Rope" attributed to Maurice Prendergas 1892-1895
Union Square Friday September 14, 2001
A few people moved among the candles extinguished by the rain, dumped out the water and lit them again, the perfumed damp wax crackling and sputtering to flame as the ever changing crowd gathered around, stood and walked on. Here and there people played guitars and a circle of others holding hands prayed for peace in every country of the world, one guy calling out the names: “Let there be peace in Madagascar.” “Let there be peace in Madagascar.”
Union Square Friday September 14, 2001
People had also constructed a wall of hope that curved along the lawn toward the east with hundreds of photos of people who haven’t been found, most of them young, a father holding his newborn baby, a woman cutting her birthday cake, smiling at a party or the beach, some were old, a dignified man in a suit, lady executives and immigrants who cleaned the halls and bussed the tables at Windows of the World, in fact everyone in New York was on the wall.
Santiago Atiplan, Guatemala 12/04/1990
David, who works at CBS, said the most difficult footage he ever edited was of his fellow New Yorkers jumping and letting go. He noticed that as the women fell, those wearing skirts held them down modestly to the very last second. It was this holding down of the dresses, David realized, that made us human.
Store on Rivington
Union Square Friday September 14, 2001
“The Mouth of Hell,” Hillary Clinton called Ground Zero. I see open mangled space, pieces of the skeletal towers still standing, twisted burnt wet, windows broken, knocked out but not down yet. Downtown’s very lit, smoke still rising, but the air is cool and fresh because it rained and washed it clean of human ash, the smell of rotting flesh. There is no moon or stars, the dome of heaven’s endless, black but for two passing planes blinking transitory lights.
United Nations School 1968
Conneat Lake, Pennsylvania
Shanksville had a little hut with books of photos, and yes, stories. You were invited to write your reaction on an index card that would be added to the permanent memorial. I wrote:
Doing my art, whether it’s crafting words into sentences or art glass into wildflower scenes, develops my intuitive feel for the moment. Perhaps through creating, this ordinary person will be practiced to answer the challenge of each moment. I don’t know if it will ever reach the point of death, like those of Flight 93, but I am called to respond to the moments I am given.