Wild River Review

WRR 4.4 — 1 AUGUST 2007


NOVEL EXCERPT: In a State of Partition by Aneesha Capur

SPOTLIGHT: The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib (Part 1) — The Detainees’ Quest for Justice by Joy E. Stocke, Kim Nagy, and Chris Tiefel

COLUMN: The Mystic Pen — The Gift by Katherine Schimmel Abdel Baki

FILM REVIEW: The Prisoner, or How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair by Elizabeth Sheldon

AIRMAIL: Confessions of a Global Traveler — Hong Kong Diary: Of Courtesans and Kings by the Professor

NOVEL EXCERPT: Blood Grip Chapter 4 by Constance Garcia-Barrio


UP THE CREEK: Editor’s Notes — Art, Yoga, and Abu Ghraib

Up the Creek


In the words of Thomas Jefferson: The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

But how do we define freedom? The right to move about at will? The right to declare our innocence until we are proven guilty? The right to humane and ethical treatment if we are detained for an alleged crime? And if it comes down to an accusation of guilt, the right to a fair and honest trial?

In June 2006, I received an email from writer and yoga teacher Jennifer Schelter. She was traveling to Istanbul, she said, to transcribe testimony from the detainees who had been tortured at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Would I consider sending a donation to help cover her expenses?

She added that the lawyers handling the case, Susan Burke and Shareef Akeel, had gathered previous testimony in Amman, Jordan. But this time, for safety reasons, they were traveling to Istanbul, a city I have visited numerous times; a city where western and eastern culture has mingled, sometimes uneasily, for centuries.

I called Jennifer and learned that in addition to transcribing testimony, she would guide Burke and Akeel through yoga and meditation practices, something Burke felt was crucial to the process of taking difficult testimony from the detainees.

I have never asked Jennifer if she received all the donations she needed, but she went to Istanbul anyway, with Burke, Akeel, artist Daniel Heyman, and documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy (The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib). What they discovered about the arrest of many innocent Iraqis, the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib is chronicled in our three-part series “The Other Side of Abu Ghraib”.

But the story of Abu Ghraib doesn’t end there. In her essay and review of the film “The Prisoner, or How I Killed Tony Blair”, media executive and Fulbright scholar Elizabeth Sheldon portrays another detainee at Abu Ghraib, Yunis. She compares Yunis to K in Franz Kafka’s book The Trial. “Yunis is never brought before a judge,” she writes, “nor does he have a lawyer, since apparently he has no rights. What good is a lawyer when you are arrested, presumed guilty just because you are arrested, and there is no judge or jury?”

Across the world, in the interest of global commerce, the Professor arrives with his fellow business travelers in Macao, the Las Vegas of China. In the glitzy Hotel Lisboa, they find another kind of prison, one of vice and the opportunity for pleasure at a cost.

In Chapter 4 of her novel Blood Grip, Connie Garcia-Barrio explores these questions in the context of American slavery, as she continues to chronicle the story of escaped slaves Jerusalem and Jake Stone who track down their mother, Ilsie, in a brothel.

In her continuing series “The Mystic Pen,” Katherine Schimmel Baki writes of spirituality, redemption, and a great library rising from the tragic sinking of the Titanic. In the Widener Library on Harvard’s campus, Baki finds solace and redemption in literature.

While the story of the Abu Ghraib detainees doesn’t exactly offer solace, the work of lawyers like Burke and Akeel, their love of the law, and their ability to use language for the common good, provides a story and context for the complicated actions of human beings.

Joy E. Stocke

Joy E. Stocke

Joy E. Stocke, WRR Executive Editor & Founder

Joy E. Stocke has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and has written about and lectured widely on her travels in Turkey and Greece, as well as religion, ancient and modern.

In addition to a travel memoir, Anatolian Days and Nights, she is working on her second book of poems set in Greece, and a novel set in the U.S., Germany, and Crete.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics/Journalism, she participated in the Lindisfarne Symposium on The Evolution of Consciousness with William Irwin Thompson at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. She is founding partner of Writers Corner USA, where she consults with writers at all levels, specializing in book proposals and book length manuscripts.

EMAIL: jstocke@wildriverreview.com

PEN WORLD VOICES: Language Within Silence — An Interview with Norwegian Writer Per Petterson
PEN WORLD VOICES: Tonight We Rest Here — An Interview with Poet Saadi Youssef
SPOTLIGHT: Arabic from Left to Right — An Interview with Saad Abulhab
SPOTLIGHT: Fly Me to the Moon — A Conversation with Mathematician and Artist, Ed Belbruno
SPOTLIGHT: The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib (Part 1) — The Detainees’ Quest for Justice
SPOTLIGHT: Poetry, Science, and the Big Bang — John Timpane Goes to Cambridge
SPOTLIGHT: Rumi and Coke — An Excerpt from Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey
QUARK PARK: Of Algorithms, Google & Snow Globes — An Interview with Computer Scientist David Dobkin, Dean of Faculty at Princeton University
QUARK PARK: The Scientist as Rebel — Freeman Dyson Talks About Nuclear Weapons, Space Travel, and the Future
QUARK PARK: The Solace of Vacant Spaces — Interview with Peter Soderman
QUARK PARK: Music in Stone — Sculptor Jonathan Shor
UP THE CREEK: Editor’s Notes