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Unreadable poem about unbeatable nation
by Elfie & Maia Ballis - SunMt (elfie [at] sunmt.org)
Sunday Jun 22nd, 2003 5:45 PM
17-year old poet writes poem which school adminstrators ban from ceremony
tomasgreen.jpg
Here is the poem by 17-year-old Tomas Farias followed by an article about its unreadableness. Hear Tomas read poem on URL.

THE UNBEATABLE NATION
Undefeated at war,
But defeated against its own society.
Are we blind not to see the crimes?
We're becoming the evil nation in a matter of time.
The land of opportunities...
Is it really?
To whom?
To the people who are financially stable
And for those who are poor are trapped in failure.
Our leaders are blinded by legal tender.
They entitle you a future depending
On your race and gender.
Is a nation punishable for its leaders' action?
Innocent children lying in hospital beds
Because of a general's command.
Is this the true meaning of "UNITED WE STAND?"
Where's our nation's pride and spirit,
Murdering innocent children, men and women?
Did you ask them their names
Before you pulled the trigger?
I bet you didn't panic because you
Had the weapon and felt bigger.
Who are you to tell them how to live?
Who are they to tell us how we're living?
I wonder if I'm part of this unbeatable nation.
It seems the only time we have a word
Is when we are at war.
Victory...Victory...
We did it again.
We beat a peasant nation.
Want to know why we did it?
Because we?re the unbeatable nation
---------------------------------------------------------------
by Bette Peterson
Recently National university of Fresno invited me to be the guest speaker and hand out prizes for a poetry contest for students from fourth grade through high school. The winners would read their poems and receive a beautiful certificate framed in a most impressive frame along with additional small gifts.

The day before the event, I reviewed the prize winners with the judge and was very disappointed with the entries. The theme was, Pride and Spirit of our Nation. Every winner had the same type of poem -- the glorious, glorious U.S. But the judge informed me that there was another poem that was controversial and could possibly get special consideration. I read the poem and thought it was terrific and should receive a first prize. But the judge was the final one to make the decision. I wanted to read the poem nevertheless at the event.

I called the chairperson of the poetry event and she said the judge's decision was final and I couldn't read the poem. As a concession, she would phone the student, invite him and inform him that he was receiving a special award but no prize.

The following night just before the event, I again spoke with the person in charge and was again informed that the poem could not be read.

The guests and winners arrived. The program commenced and each student winner read her/his poem. Finally, I said there was one poem that was submitted and considered controversial and couldn't be read. The poem has substance, emotion, honesty and integrity. I had shown the poem to professional authors who thought it deserved a first award.

Now the audience responded enthusiastically informing me that they would like to hear the poem but a man stood up and said he didn't want his 7-year-old daughter to hear the poem. Then the teacher of the student, high school junior 17-year Tomas Farias who wrote the poem reluctantly said maybe this wasn't the appropriate time as the poem did not fit in with the others.

Once again the audience would not give up. One lady spoke up loudly, "Can't we read the poem?" I answered, "Yes." The folks lined up and read the one copy of the poem I had. The response was, "It should have received a first prize." The man who didn't want his 7-year-old daughter to hear it, apologized and said there was no reason she couldn't hear the poem He had anticipated something gruesome.

The response to the poem made me realize how folks jump to conclusions without hearing the evidence. We are in trouble as a nation if this is any indication of a poetry contest for students with censorship involved.

Censorship or no censorship -- the poem was read silently by all.