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November 16, 1979 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-11-16

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Page 4-Friday, November 16, 1979-The Michigan Daily

4 Or 4F r
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom
Vol. LXXXX, No. 62 News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

A pedant's dilemma: Does this

JI

t

poetry require any defense?

London Town

i .. ' /e. A'*
,..
Elis

My girlfriend goes to school in London,
Canada. She has little campus life, but the
people are friendly and will help you out
even if London isn'tyour home town.
'The town exists on the main highway
from Detroit to Toronto. We stopped on
our way to Toronto and ate at an Oriental
family owned restaurant.
Sherri and Marcia were my friends.
Sherri's boyfriend played the guitar. Mar-
cy Hillard owned a car and we drove all
around to see the pretty autumn colors.
We stopped in a record store and I bought
12 records for $5. 00. In Canada they sell a
lot of used and antique items.
Pretty bad, isn't it? As a short story it
doesn't have a prayer, lacking character
development, conflict, or resolutions. As an
essay it falls pitifully short, without thesis or
organization. And as poetry? Well, it surely
isn't metered or rhymed, and it can hardly be
compared to the free verse of a Dylan
Thomas or a Gwendolyn Brooks.'All things
considered, you would probably agree that it
is little more than a babbling, childish
description of a trip to London, Canada.
The writer is a rather handsome, engaging
colege-age man with a disarming smile and a
casual stride. He could be any student in Ann
Arbor.
But he is not a student in Ann Arbor:
HE IS A patient at the Northville
Psychiatric Hospital and came to the Union's
Pendleton Room on Wednesday afternoon
with several fellow patients to share his
creative writing with anyone who .was in-
terested.
"Childish? Babbling?" you might now
recall. "Of course not," you would protest. "I
never thought that for a minute; it's very
profound and moving. How could anyone even
think those paragraphs have no meaning?"
Well, I did. And as I sat silently
criticizing this poem and others for their sim-
plicity and lack of depth, as I looked around at
the eight other members of the audience and
wondered how they could appear so

By Howard Witt

engrossed in this worthless jabber,
shivered.

I

WHY DO I feel compelled to pick apart the.
writing of mentally ill people? I asked
myself.
Because I have been taught at this Univer-
sity to be unreasonably pedantic, I answered
immediately.
My introductory poetry course has left me
overly prepared for poems-some of which
were even less coherent and more juvenile
than "London Town"-written by psychiatric
patients. Where is the symbolism in "London
Town?" the imagery? the metaphor? a voice
in me kept prodding.
THE INFLUENCES of my literature cour-
ses tormented me no less during the prose
readings by several patients. There is no
protagonist, no plot, no flashback, no
foreshadowing, I couldn't help thinking.
I struggled to suppress a recurrent thought:
I could write a wonderfully critical English
paper on this whole recitation.
Yet, I reasoned, it could not simply be the
fault of the University that I rejected this
poetry. Indeed, had I heard it six or seven
years ago I still would not have acknowledged
"London Town" as anything like genuine
literature.
JUST AS I realized this-that all of my
scholastic training has urged me to deride
such poetry as meaningless and valueless-I
shivered again. Could it really be true that
because there is no metaphor or symbolism in
this poem it has no worth?
No, I concluded, that cannot be true. I im-
mediately began to counter my pedantic ten-
dencies by imagining defenses for the
writing.
First, I thought, the poems are simple and
childish because they are the products of
psychistric patients who are incapable of
literary genius. But that defense, I soon
realized, would imply that the men-
tally troubled are in some way inferior to
"normal" people, an unpleasant conception

that twentieth-century society is trying '7
desperately to eradicate.
PERHAPS, I then thought, I could fashion
some exaggerated interpretations that would
fit the writing to introductory poetry and-'
literature standards.- But that defense, too;
seemed inappropriate-I could not corrupt
the poems by interpreting metaphors that,
just don't exist.
I could think of no other excuse for this't
writing. I wanted desperately to supplant my.
cerebral criticisms with uncomplicated
emotion, to allow myself to appreciate "Lon-
don Town."
And then it dawned on me: It is wrong to
seek to defend the poetry and essays at all. As
I watched the author of "London Town" stroll
confidently to the podium, as I heard his voice
falter and lose its assurance when he realized",
the small audience was focusing its;attention
on him, and as I sensed his confidence return
as he moved into the rhythm of his poem, I
realized that there is no defense necessary foi i
this creative writing. It stands alone, immune
to academic analyses appropriate for more
conventional literature precisely because it i
nothing like conventional literature. "London.
Town" cannot be divorced from its author's
very human presentation. Certainly, as a
poem isolated in a book it would mean little;"
but when one knows something of the author, -
"London Town" takes on a tremendous value.-
After battling with my excessively pedantiW
standards, then, I realized that all of this sim
plistic, juvenile, telegraphic poetry is ac-,
tually quite moving. "London Town," accep-
ted for what it is and not rejected for what it is
not, is a valiant attempt to transcribe for ail
audience an indescribable emotion. If you, °y
can't appreciate or understand that entirely,
sufficient explanation, I am sorry that I am
incapable of further explication. The poem'
is, ultimately, no less creative or literary than
would be any attempt I might make to write'
down all the emotions that I associate with a
bicycle ride through Door County, Wisconsin.
Then again, who cares what I feel about
some bicycle ride 'or what some psychiatric"-
patient feels about a trip to see his girlfriend",
Iafear that I will never completely destroy the
pedant in me.

- ..
_. __-- .

=54

Another blow to peace

T WAS TWO years ago, almost to
the day, when the Egyptian
warrior, Anwar Sadat, made his un-
precedented peace pilgrimage into the
heart of his enemy. Not since 1948
when the state of Israel was
established had a rival Arab leader
stepped foot on Israeli territory. It was
history, and it was a prayer for peace.
Maybe.
Two years later, many of those
prayers have been answered. Israel
and Egypt have signed a peace treaty
and will soon exchange ambassadors,
a diplomatic achievement that would
have been unthinkable before Sadat
initiated the first step. The chain reac-
tion from-Sadat's courage led to Israeli
flexibility. Peace became more than
just a dream.
Yet, since the two countries signed a
peace treaty in March, the momentum
has eroded in a flurry of despair. What
once seemed like relatively smooth
sailing into the future has turned into
an unceasing tide of troubles.
The latest event to rock the unstable
foundation of peace results from the
Begin government's decision to deport
a Palestinian mayor. on the West Bank
to Jordan because he expressed sym-
pathy for guerrilla tactics. The mayor,
Bassam al-Shka of Nablus - the
largest city on the West Bank - was
arrested this week by Israeli
authorities when it was revealed that
he had once approved violent tactics to
overcome Israeli intransigence.
Any chances that he may be released.
now hinge on the Israeli Supreme
Court which is the only body that can
overrule the Begin government. If not,
the mayor will be in King Hussein's
territory within days.

How ironic it is -for the Israelis to
exhibit such stubbornness and in-
tolerance on the eve 'bf the second an-
niversary of Sadat's visit. For not only
does it demonstrate the Begin regime's
disregard of constitutional rights - the
mayor's privilege to express his
opinion - but it also threatens to make
the eventual goal of peace in the entire
region even more elusive.
The immediate fallout of the Israeli
government's decision was by far 4he
most dangerous consequence, and the
one ,which portends -an even grimmer
future. In an expression of solidarity,'
the mayors of all 25 cities in the oc-
cupied territories of the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip completed the sub-
mission of their resignations, leaving
the entire area devoid of municipal
leaders. These resignations spell even
greater trouble for the hopes shared by
many Israelis and American
diplomats that some chance lingered
for moderate Palestinians to become
an integral element in the autonomy
talks. Those discussions, aimed at
establishing a framework for
Palestinian autonomy in the occupied
territories, have moved nowhere. The
Israelis keep waiting for moderates to
emerge while the Egyptians press for
more flexibility from the now-shaky
Begin coalition.
(1 be AEI 3t 1 atg
PHOTOGRAPHY STAFF
lAUREEN 'MALLEY...,.................Chief Photographer
YRENA ('hANG............. .......Staff Photographer
PAUL. ENGSTROM......................... Staff Photographer
D)AVID )HARIS.......................... Staff Photographer
U^ISA ALAUSN . .. Staff Photographer
JIM KRU Z...................................Staff Photographer
.J ' SEIDI...........................Staff Photographer

Howard Witt is a Daily Night Editor.
'

y ~

11 1

;!" '

Stories of hunger and agony
in the heart of Cambodia

.

,'L.

EDITOR 'S NOTE: The
Quinn-Judges, Quaker Inter-
national Representatives in
Southeast Asia, are among the'
very few people who have
traversed Eastern Cambodia
between Phnom Penh and
Vietnam recently. Fluent in
Vietnamese and French, they
visited Kampuchea briefly late
in September while on a trip to
Vietnam to inspect projects
funded there by the American
Friends Service Committee.
They brought back this eye-
witness account of the
devastated1khmer people.
Those who have lived through
the nightmare of the Khmer
Rouge experiment in radical
communism are not being given
any respite. Their immediate
tasks of building a government,
opening schools, staffing and
supplying hospitals are all dwar-
fed by thehconstant challenge of
finding enough food to keep
people alive.
On the 45-kilometer drive to
Kompong Speu province capital
west of Phnom Penh, we saw
some young rice growing and
even the occasional water buffalo
wandering in the fields, but
nowhere did we see any evidence
that people's lives had returned
to normal.
PEASANTS IN the om-
nipresent faded black clothing
had set up a barter market along
the roadside near the prpvince
headquarters, but a few tIilted
vegetables and edible roots
seems to be all they had to offer.
Wbat used to be the little town
of Kompong Speu has disap-
peared-apparently the Khmer
Rouge blew it up when they

By Paul and Sophia Quinn-Judge

While working adults and their
spouses in Phnom Penh were get-
ting a monthly rice ration of 13
kilos, adults in the Kompong Speu
area were receiving only six kilos
per month and their seed rice was
said to be gone. We were told that
in recent months their only sour-
ce of food had been from the
Vietnamese, and as our car
pulled into the provincial head-
fquartersthe guide pointed out
ten ox carts loaded with burlap
sacks of seed corn from Vietnam,
creaking off to the surrounding
villages.

Khmer nation have all but disap-
peared were borne out during a
visit to the Phnom Penh or-
phanage. There were only 26
children under six years of age
u of a total of 539here. Almost
90 per cent of the children
brought in-some by relatives,
others picked up on roads-were
sick and malnourished.
HUNGER HAS killed the very
young first. It has also drastically
cut the birth rate. a UNICEF of-
ficial who has traveled in Kam-
puchea for several weeks

"Hunger has killed the very young first. It
has also drastically cut the birth rate. A
UNICEF official who has traveled in Kam-
puchea for several weeks estimated that 85 per
cent of the women have stopped menstruating
because of malnutrition and exhaustion."

his own soldiers. Many of those",
held and executed at the Tuo'"
Sleng prison, a former high
school for Phnom Penh's elite,.,-,
were Kampucheans who served .
with Sihanouk's government of
national unity between 1970 and,'
1975.
The Khmer Rouge left detailed.'
records of those who died in the '
prison, including many photos:
The faces of hundreds of the dead
now stare at visitors from the:.
walls. Among them is the face of,
a young cinema actress whir',
returned-to Phnom Penh front
Cuba in 1976.
Our brief glimpse of Kam'
puchea ended with the seven-:
hour drive from Phnom Penh to
Ho Chi Minh City. The peasants
biking and walking along High-
way 1 seemed to be moving with<
more purpose than those we had
seen further west. We passed'q
few truckloads of Vietnamese'
soldiers, but- most of the traffic
on this stretch consisted on
truckloads of Kampucheant
peasants, with pink or red-v
checked scarves wound around w
their necks or worn turban-style.
AT THE.NEAK Luong ferry'
crossing of the Mekong, we stop-
ped for half an hour. The directory
of the Neak Long port spoke good
French, and told us that he had,
served in the Public Works-
Ministry under Sihanouk and Lone
Nol."Is your government going tot
send us any humanitarian aid?"
he asked. "How many tons?"
Between the Mekong and the
eastern town of Svey Rieng, rice
was finally getting planted. Many
work groups were transplantin',
seedlings in the flooded fields, v
while farmers of all ages were
plowing with cattle or water buf-
falo.
After the remains of Sveyy
Rieng, however, came the Parrts
Beak and absolute quiet. There
was no sign of life in this once

THE PROVINCE hospital, with
585 patients and only 200 beds, wa
a scene from another century.
There was no resident doctor and
very little medicine. Although a
few patients were suffering from
wounds inflicted by Pol Pot
soldiers, most of the diseases
were caused by vitamin deficien-
cies. The ninety-two children in
the orphan ward were fighting
starvation. There seemed to be
no hope for those suffering in this
hospital, until we met a doctor
from the International Red Cross
arriving to, distribute a small

estimated that 85 per cent of the
women have stopped men-
struating because of malnutrition
and exhaustion.
Among the many survivors
who told us their stories was Mrs.
Pen En, a former French teacher
who now guides foreign visitors
around the Tuol Sleng Prison,
where an estimated 12,000 died
under the Khmer Rouge, and
which is now a museum.
In January, 1978, after Mrs.
Pen En's husband, a forestry
technician, died in prison and
three of their children died of

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