literature of witness (multiple responses)

Tue, 23 Dec 1997 22:47:56 -0500


From: Maggie Jaffe <>
Subject: Re: literature of witness; Resistance Literature

Dear Sixties People:

Along with the other books mentioned about literatures of witness, Barbara
Harlow's *Resistance Literature* (Methuen, 1987) should be included,
although Harlow does not touch on resistance to the Vietnam war. For the
most part, *Resistance Literature* describes the emerging poetry and prose
from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa that coincided with the
struggles to de-colonialize these particular regions. U.S. resistance to
the Vietnam war, most notably from veterans, would have made this a richer,
more subversive, study. Too often the domestic response to war,
colonialism and imperialism is over looked by scholars.

Michael Bibby's *Hearts and Minds: Bodies, Poetry, and Resistance in the
Vietnam Era* (Rutgers, 1996), redresses Harlow's neglect of not including
poetry against the Vietnam war and is highly recommended.



From: M Bibby <>
Subject: Re: literature of witness

The classic is the Nobel lectures by Czeslaw Milosz, *The Witness of
Poetry *; but there are also offshoots by Carolyn Forche (her El Salvador
memoir or perhaps the intro to her anthology *Against Forgetting*)
and Terrence des Pres. Shoshona Felman's book on testimony might have
some good stuff--and certainly Kali's book may have a chapter you can use.


Michael Bibby
Department of English
Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 532-1723


From: (Curbstone)
Subject: Re: literature of witness

I would recommend the works of John Beverly and Marc Zimmerman on
Testimonio (Testimony). This genre was in effect founded by Miguel Barnet's
Biography of a Runaway Slave and carried on by writers like Claribel
Alegria and Rigoberta Menchu. It would be interesting to compare Testimony
to autobiography, one of the essential differences being that the narrator
of Testimony, as Rigoberta Menchu says, speaks not for oneself but for a
whole people. It would be fun to compare autobiography to the river
metaphor--a journey in which the narrator chooses events in his/her life
that made that narrator what he/she is; whereas Testimony s more like a
mural, depicting the injustice or oppression perpetrated on a whole people.
E.g., everything Ben Franklin chooses to describe his life contributes to
one theme: How I became a success. Everything Rigoberta Menchu chooses
gives us a panorama of what was done to her people.

One way of looking at literature of witness is to see some of its roots in
testimony and to see this literature as giving voice to those who are
unable to speak for themselves. Much of the work of Claribel Alegria and
Ernesto Cardenal does this. We have produced an anthology, Poetry Like
Bread, centered on works that deal with social and political issues with an
introduction by Mart=EDn Espada which might be usesful for students. We're
also in the process of putting essays up on the web and I recommend the one
by Rose Pegueros on testimonial literature.

Of course in its widest sense of literature that witnesses in justice (see
Carolyn Forch=E9s, Against Forgetting: The Poetry of Witness), this
literature has been around a long time.

Sandy (Alex)

321 Jackson St. l
voice: 860/423-5110
Willimantic, CT 06226 l fax:
Publishers of Progressive, Multicultural Literature.

Visit our web site at http: //

"Poetry like bread / Is for everyone." -- Roque Dalton


From: Joy Marcus <>
Subject: Re: literature of witness

Look up stuff written by the Berrigan bro's. Also, contact American
Friends Service Committee. I'd think they'd have tons of stuff.
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom would be able to
recommend some readings.


--Joy Marcus

Marcus . Interval Research Corporation .1801 Page Mill Road . Building C
. Palo Alto, California 94303 .

phone 650-842-6135 . fax 650-354-0872 <italic>(please note new area