What kind of spring is this, / Where there are no flowers and / The air is filled with a miserable smell?
– Shaikh Abdurraheem Muslim Dost
The above poem was etched into a styrofoam cup and passed between detainees in the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention camp. It is included alongside twenty-one other poems in the remarkable and unsettling Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak (2007). This collection reveals moving attempts to foster human connection amid torture and humiliation, and the link between creative expression and the endurance of the human spirit.
Our thirty-third reader has incorporated this text into his work as a playwright, a dramaturge, and a doctoral candidate researching the politics of performance and the war on terror. We discuss his relationship to the text, the disturbing context in which the poems were written, and the choice of poetry as a means of expression in prison or detention. He also reads three memorable poems from the collection.
Recordings of selected poems available on the publisher’s website!
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston