Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Reading

I hope everyone has time to reflect on war and the people who have died in war today.

My friend Charles "Norm" Stevens thankfully did not die in the war, but he flew over 30 missions as a bombardier during World War II and has written two very personal accounts of his time there. An Innocent at Polebrook describes his time during the war, and The Innocent Cadet describes his training beforehand. I have the honor of being in a writer's group with Norm, and I'll say that, particularly with The Innocent Cadet, he has revealed much of his internal thoughts and emotions in a moving and powerful way. He transforms from someone who was innocent to someone quite wise, with very different views of the world at the end of his military career. Afterwards, he was a high school writing teacher for several years and still continues to educate others.

Also tangentially, for a long time I have wanted to mention the work of PEN Center USA in helping to free writers around the world who are imprisoned for telling stories that seek to reveal truth. Other countries around the world don't have freedom of speech the way we do here. As a result, many people are put into jail, often without fair trial, for writing about the injustices of their country. Through letter writing campaigns (a strategy that has proven very effective in such situations) PEN Center USA has been able to free some of these writers. There's an article on a recent detainee, Nurmuhemmet Yasin, here.


  1. I didn't know that about PEN, Davin, thank you. I think it's definitely something we should promote here if we can. I'll also check out your friend's work. That's so wonderful that he can share his experiences in this way.

    Hope you have a great holiday!

  2. I just think it's cool I have a writing friend who can use the word tangentially in conversation.

    love it. and, I appreciate the focus of this post. We are blessed beyond measure and my heart goes out to those who are imprisoned or punished for speaking truth. It's a sad reality of our world and important to shine a light on. thanks, Davin.

  3. Good post, Davin. I have been lucky enough to hear one of Norm's talks about his service and I found him to be quite inspiring. His first book is very well written and a remarkable window back to WWII and the quiet heroism of the "greatest generation." I highly recommend it! (Have not read the 2nd book yet.)

  4. Thanks for mentioning PEN, Davin. It's so important to remember those who've died to protect freedom and help those struggling to be able to speak.

  5. Thanks Davin. I didn't know about PEN, but I'm glad you shared it with us.

  6. Davin, you are so in tune with the larger world. It is an honor to know someone who champions worthy causes and speaks out against atrocities.

    Thank you for the shout outs, today and always.

    Have a good Memorial Day weekend Lit Lab.


  7. Michelle, I'd been meaning to talk about PEN for sometime because I do think that what they're doing is a great thing. Maybe I can interview Adam, the person in charge of this program here sometime.

    Tess, tangentially happens to be one of my favorite words. :) Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for sending out good thoughts to those writers.

    Edithroad, Norm always manages to impress me. He's a very soft spoken guy, and he lets his actions do the speaking for him.

    Tricia, Yes, I absolutely agree. I think that I will be getting more involved in the letter writing campaign that PEN organizes.

    Eric, I have a feeling there are a lot of other great organizations out there too that are doing some great work. I hope to find more of them to share with everyone. Our contest last year uncovered a few.

    Donna, I wish I was more in tune with the world. When I was younger I sadly didn't pay attention to much of the rest of the world. Only now do I understand how important it is.

  8. Thanks for these links. We joke about getting death threats as a sign that we've made it, but writing truth in some other countries is truly dangerous work.

    Also, nice new look for the blog!

  9. Thanks, Genie! We're still tampering with it... :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.