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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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Bag of Bones (Dunya Mikhail)

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dunya mikhail

Dunya Mikhail writes: ‘A woman in an abaya was walking out from a mass graveyard (south of Baghdad) with a plastic bag in her hand. Other people were still searching for the skulls and bones of their loved ones. The poem was already there and I only had to write it down. Thousands of people were killed and buried there in 1991 after the failed uprising against Saddam Hussein. I left my country in 1995 and twenty years later, when I returned, more mass graves were revealed, this time in Sinjar north of Iraq. Daesh (ISIS) invaded the area and killed thousands of people, many of them buried alive. As a poet, I feel responsible to have my art at the service of our precarious humanity and of our perhaps irremediably injured world.’

What good luck!

She has found his bones.

The skull is also in the bag

the bag in her hand

like all other bags

in all other trembling hands.

His bones, like thousands of bones

in the mass graveyard,

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