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William Haskins

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‘As the bombs fall, I write’: The poets of Gaza

I wrote my first poem in 2014, as Israeli bombs rained down on Gaza, sitting in the corner of my room during the three hours of electricity we had each day, listening to the radio and to the sound of bombs, drones and ambulances. I typed out the words – “I was born in Gaza.” I wanted to talk about what I was going through in the tune of a poet or a poetry lover. When the poem was finished, I posted it on social media. The next day, I found an enormous number of likes and shares; my message had been delivered.

Growing up in Gaza is inspiring for anyone, but especially for poets – life here is poetry blown into pieces and scattered all over the place. In the weddings, there’s poetry, in times of war, in the eyes of an old man sitting in front of his small shop, mourning the death of his child, in the tears of a lover whose fiancée was murdered along with her entire family while she was sleeping in her house, in the blueness of Gaza’s shores, which carries me to where I want to be and brings me back to who I was, in the flames of bombs falling on the heads of Gazans; heartachingly and heartwarmingly, this place can definitely make you a poet.

He Used His Poetry To Speak Out Against Myanmar's Coup. It May Have Cost Him His Life

Khet Thi made cakes, ice cream and poetry. The latter may have cost him his life.

He died in police custody in Myanmar early last month. The authorities say the cause was heart failure. His widow says he was beaten to death.

A civil engineer by training, the 43-year-old quit his civil service job in the central Myanmar town of Shwebo in 2012 and opened a cake and ice cream shop to support his poetry.

"Before the coup, he wrote poems about love, about life," says his friend Nyein Chan, another poet. "But after, all he wrote about was the revolution."
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