Poetry and Conflict
—International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong 2015
War and peace—one of humanity’s eternal themes. From 1945 to today, despite seventy years without another “world war,” our world has never been free from war, invasion, destruction, slaughter, and the degradation and spiritual trauma that follow. The progress of civilization seems to be the strong making fodder of the weak under the mantle of freedom in a quest for domination, as the globalization of power and capital continue to carve up the world to better rule it.
The year 1989 was a historical turning point, but while the Cold War between East and West reached a kind of culmination, the Cold War mentality has continued unabated. Less straightforwardly, the sea swell of globalization led by capitalism since the end of the twentieth century has swallowed heaven and earth, and the internet revolution’s information explosion has brought about both the fragmentation of knowledge and the transformation of the news media into amusement, thoroughly restructuring the old world order and overturning the “traditional” lifestyles of the middle-class along with it. At the same time, on the flip side of material ostentatiousness and brainwashing by the media, we remain shocked at the continuation of hostility and upheaval, the growing disparity between rich and poor, the depletion of natural resources, and the progressive degradation of rights such as freedom of speech.
Poetry and Conflict: the theme for the 2015 International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong.
Since antiquity, poetry has been sourced in humanity’s suffering, a driving force for the overcoming of darkness toward the light. Now, amid proposed conflicts between civilizations, histories, religions, and languages, what can poetry do? In the bedlam of the morbid fantasies of our world, what can poetry do? In retracing the source and course of our spiritual knocking at language’s door, what can poetry do?