The war in Ukraine has created a heightened sense of the immanence of life, and the need to raise voices to speak out against war, to speak out for peace.

  
 Bedenke, deine Worte sind wichtig. Bedenke Deine Worte 
 Bedenke, deine Gedanken sind stark. Bedenke Deine Gedanken 
  
 Consider your words are important – consider your words
 Consider your thoughts are strong – consider your thoughts 

This poem of Denise Haller’s is one voice among the chorus of poets from the Performance Lightful, which held at Gleis in Zurich on April 2, 2022. The group has been meeting for a year now in a space dedicated to poetry. In that space, poems are written to name spring and summer, to put floats and sunshine in words, to shout out against corona and fears.

With war, poetry has become a movement from speechlessness to listening to the sound and words of a poem. 

The poem An Allergy is beginning again by Natalka Bilozerkiwez familiarises itself with the social and political context of the Ukraine, though written in another time.

  ... Will we live to see Washington? 
 ... We eventually will! 

With war, poetry becomes a movement from listening to a poem to re-arranging words such as when A War is beginning again struggles to name the fears, anger, and human madness— …

Werden wir morgen noch leben?  Will we still be alive, tomorrow? (Lilian Frei)  

With war, poetry strives to write meaningful words, as spots in the darkness.

For the collective of poets, the Imagine Peace Tower of Yoko Ono was one inspiration to compose light-ful poem.

Peace Tower from Sophia Grieder allows us to travel to the stars, and leave the war and loss behind.

 
 If only you could climb out of this world
 My wounded soldier
 Set foot on a notch in the stone
 Take hold of the overgrowing ivy
 Foot after foot, hand after hand
  
 You don’t have to be afraid of falling
 My hurting friend
 For the world behind you has vanished
 Along with all the painful memories of
 war after war, loss after loss
  
 Finally, you will have reached the spire
 My ailing child
 Your gaze can only go further up
 To stars filled with light and truth
 That won’t hurt you nevermore 

From that distance, up in the stars or at a poetry performance, we may find a way back to earth – filled with light and truth – to create light around us. 

Andrea Grieder
Andrea Grieder is a poet and social anthropologist. She is the founder and director of Transpoesis, an organization based in Rwanda with the aim to empower through Poetry. Originally from Switzerland, she has a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris. She is a lecturer at the University of Technology and Arts of Byumba (UTAB), Rwanda. Email: a_grieder@access.uzh.ch