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April 11, 2019

It's been quite a while since there has been any activity on this web site.

About five years ago I stopped getting submissions. It may have had something to do with problems on the website. (see the News note below.) For a time all the submissions I got were garbled. It took some time to get the web site code fixed. It may have had something to do with Barack Obama being President of the United States. When he decided to run the submission rate fell off a cliff.

I still had two faithful poets who continued to submit. Thank you Michael and Scott. But I didn't want the site to become just a depository of their poems. That did not fit with my concept of the site as a dialog between competing political world views.

So imagine my surpeise when five years after the last poem was published on the site, I got a new submission. From a poet in India no less. A very good, award winning poet. What shoud I do?

I considered emailing her back saying the site was closed to submissions. But maybe there is still some value to a place like this. I asked Michael Brett for advice. (He has the most poems published here.) He told me to post it. Could be many more he said.

So I am posting it. And thinking about making some changes to the website. Why Are We In Iraq was a good name during the George W. Bush years, but maybe not so good during the Trump era. Maybe I could start another website, an off shoot of this one, that asks for political poetry rather than just war poems. Maybe I should open the website to social commentary.

If you have any thoughts about what I should do, feel free to send me an email through the Contact Us link on the left side of the page. Thanks!

     posted by: Charles S. Cooper

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July 14, 2012

We have had some difficulties with the web site ltely. It appears the software that transmits the poem submissions and contact form was broken. Anyone trying to send anything to the editor got an error message and I got nothing. Finally resorted to the ultimate in computer support to get it fixed. I called a local teenager who took care of the problem. Anyway, we are back in business, so if you have tried to send us a poem lately and got an error message please try again. Thanks to Michael Brett for pointing out the problem to me. Cheers!

     posted by: Charles S. Cooper

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April 15, 2011

Just a short note to say that since I will be without Internet access next week, there wlll be no posting for Thursday, April 21, 2011. To make up for it there will be multiple poems posted the nest week.

     posted by: Charles S. Cooper

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April 27, 2010

Believe it or not, every so often I find it necessary to reject a submission. The minimum criteria for this site is pretty easy.

First, each poem has to somehow be relevant to the title of the site, "Why Are We in Iraq?" The poem doesn't have to refer to Iraq or even be about Iraq. I have accepted poems written about other wars or about attitudes and feelings that are peripherally related to war. I have to see some relevance, but I am pretty loose about this.

Secondly, submissions have to work as poetry. There have been times when submissions have come in fast and furious and I have been pretty tight on what I will publish. I pick the very best poetry of what has been submitted.

Sometimes, like these days, submissions have been light and I stretch my definition of what is poetry and what is not. Then you have to be pretty bad to get rejected. There is a certain minimum level of quality I just can't bring myself to violate. Each poem I publish has to work for me on some level as a poem. Period.

These are the only two criteria used for judging a submission.

It is absolutely stated in the guidelines and on the marketing for this site that politics is not a criteria. This site does not take sides and does not advocate a political point of view.

I've published "anti-war" poems and "pro-war" poems. I've published Christian poems and Muslim poems. I've published poems advocating the politics of most sides in this conflict.

What I have not done is take sides.

This doesn't mean I don't have a side. Personally I am staunchly anti-war. But when I started this site I decided to make it apolitical, because if this site were partisan then it would only attract people who agree with my politics. I would end up "preaching to the choir," or worse, it would devolve into an argument about my politics.

That was never the purpose of this site.

"Why Are We in Iraq" exists to further communication among everyone through the use of poetry. If it is successful at that, I can't say. But that is why it exists. That is why I pay hundreds of dollars out of my own pocket every year to keep it afloat.

Why I bring this up is because recently I rejected a submission that netted a angry retort from the submitter.

This is not the first time a submitter has been upset with a rejection. I was once told I was the type of editor who "most likely would have been cheering on the prosecution of HOWL!" (The writer assumed, of course, that his mastery of verse was equal to that of Allen Ginsburg.)

I had actually wavered over whether or not to publish this man's poems. They presented a point of view that was somewhat different from anything else on the site, anti-war Christianity. Most of the overtly Christian material I have received have been "patriotic," not anti-war.

In the end I rejected the submissions because I just did not feel they were "poetic" enough. These "poems" were just prose arguments that had been broken out into lines. The sole purpose of submitting them to my site appeared to be to drive traffic to his own web site, where he expounds on his arguments at length. Not that I objected to that. I just objected to his poems as poetry.

Anyway, I sent the writer an email telling him that "Unfortunately, [his poems] did not work for me." This is what I got in response, copied and pasted below.

I'm going to be honest with you as to why I feel these dont work for you.
I feel these poems dont work for you, because you are not anti-war. You are looking for poetry which supports your cause not poetry which is anti war. You should make this clear to people on your website and you should not be listed as an anti-war website. There is also the issue of belief your looking for support regarding your faith and belief. When you truly realize that war is not an issue of belief or passion but an issue of ethics, than maybe you will realize that war is an obsolete method of dealing with our social problems. But as long as you endorse war through any means, including wars which favor your people, or your cause, you are just as bad as the people who have declare war on the iraqui people, because the Golden Rule of Jesus Christ is not being applied. You are not doing unto others as you would like them to do unto you. Another words if you were in the place of the US. and you were the most powerful nation involved in this war, you
would see the war as justified and proper. When in reality war is never justified or proper regardless of the position which involves you. Christ taught against war period, not only against wars which dont favor a certain type of people.
Thank you for your attention, and for your time and response, but I will not be summitting anything else to your group or website as this group or website is partial and passionate in judgment, and not seeking peace but rather support for their own cause.

What can I say?

My only response I can make to this writer is to say "Read the Guidelines." And read the content of the publication you are submitting to. Don't depend on what others say about a site to decide what is appropriate to submit.

And for goodness's sake, don't write angry letters to editors telling them how stupid and wrongheaded they are. If it ever gets around that you are this vain, no one will ever publish your stuff.

By the way, if you ever work on your poetry skills and write something that you think works better as a poem, feel free to submit it to the site. I won't reject something just because I rejected a previous submission.

Previous acceptance or rejection is not one of the judging criteria of this site.

     posted by: Charles S. Cooper

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March 4, 2010

In an email I received from Michael Brett thanking me for publishing one of his poems, he said something that really resonated with me.

"The one quality I commend to you, which no-one mentions at school, is doggedness. Just trudging down the years. Keeping going no matter what."

I wanted to tweet it but it had too many characters.

It is more appropriate on this site, however.

The fight to promote the right over the easy, the difficult over the consensus, justice when opposed by the crowd, is never ending. Even in our darkest days we have to stay true to our convictions.

And so we keep publishing poems, hoping that these voices will resonate with someone somewhere, and somehow make a difference.

     posted by: Charles S. Cooper

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