Teresinka Pereira is interviewed by Patrick Sammut
1. The world today is facing very hard times. I just mention the floods that struck parts of Australia, the quake and tsunami in Japan and the following nuclear threat, and the civil war in Libya. How much do events like these touch the poet/writer? Did you react to such events through some kind of writing (poetry, novel,etc.)?
Before being a writer, a poet, or an artist, we are human beings with our fears, and understanding that our Planet is suffering a crisis of human self-destruction by capitalizing in the scarce natural resources and in the creation of nuclear power without protecting the environment. People with humanistic values don’t have to write in order to express their empathy with others and offer support to the victims. But at this point, we are all confused, because even knowing that we are destroying the Planet and provoking all these disasters, we cannot stop it by ourselves. The people who make more profits from the nuclear plants and the over-construction and production in the land need to have a more humanitarian conscience and refrain from their greed. What writers and poets must do is to call attention to the right cause, which is to save the planet, by supporting the peace activists, the organizations of anti-nuclear power and anti-war, like the NIHON HIDANKYO, the Japanese Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization (which is IWA candidate to the Nobel Peace Prize this year), the International States Parliament for Safety and Peace, the American Veterans Against War, the American Friends Service Committee, The Universal Circle of the Ambassadors of Peace, and so many others that fight for peace in an intellectual and global context. Writers, poets and artists have a greater ability to imagine how others think or feel, hence, can express in words or in work of art the appreciation for the victims suffering and engage in an eloquent protest against the greedy of the capitalists that is causing this destruction of the Earth. I feel an obligation to do that.
2. Do you think that the writer/poet must express himself and sound his voice regarding such events as soon as possible? What is the role of the writer/poet faced with events like these? Is this role less or more important than that of today’s politicians?
Yes, I think the timing of the poets/writers/artists reaction to these events is important, and it has to be immediately. However, it cannot be prior of their analysis and understanding of the event. If their analysis is correct, the writers voice is more important than that of the politicians, because it serves to denounce their hypocrisy, their greed, their lack of appreciation for the people’s will, feelings and needs. The poets/writers and artists have to speak for the people who are unable to express themselves except for the vote, which many times results in disappointment. In a positive way, the voice of the poets may alert the people for future events, like the complete destruction of the Planet, if we do not change the way of life and reduce spending of the earth’s supply of energy.
3. The writer/poet has been insisting on the need for peace and respect of nature for decades. Perhaps now the people in general will understand that writers/poets were right. Do you think writers/poets are doing their utmost to make their plea heard? What more can be done?
In order for writers/ poets/artists (including mail artists) to be effective in our protest or in our message of support for the protection of the earth resources and stop the abuse, greed and overproduction of nuclear energy, we have to strive for perfection in our writing and our art. We have to make sure our readers are going to understand our message and even more important, is that they will read it. The internet is filled with texts and long poems and even entire books of poetry impossible to read because of the large amount of it. It would take hours and hours of patience and interest to read all the unsolicited material we receive, including junk e-mail with pornography or a number of pictures and videos that clog our programs and freeze our internet ways. Some sendings have three, four or more repetitions. Some internauts forward everything they receive. Blogs contain more than two or three hours of readings! When the vanity of the internet authors speaks louder than their humanitarian message, there is a lack of connection with the public, and becomes negative. I think there is a need for some kind of properness and less greed on the part of internet writers, poets and artists. Every time I open my e-mail the box is full. Besides losing the ones that could not fit in, I also lose the ones that are on the bottom of the 1200 messages. After one hour of reading, my eyes cannot stay open any longer. Your question: What more can be done? My opinion is that writers/poets/artists should go to the point with their message. Eliminate the verbosity, the prolixity, the logorrhoea, and show their ability to deliver the message with an original lyricism and fresh style.
4. There is a need for governments and authorities to acknowledge the utmost importance of disciplines such as History, Literature, Philosophy and the like. Modern society does not need only science, finance, marketing, economics and management. How do you react to such a statement?
I am not against government, because I believe in order and justice as well as the scientific progress that helps all of the people in the global community. What I protest against is the advantage of the progress in science, finance, marketing, economics and management to the use only for the high class in power, the rich and the politicians. Yet, in the rich and powerful countries, the poor accept and seem to be happy with the system of welfare, which is a very small amount of money they receive from the government and do not protest against the lack of health care, education and housing. In the United States, which is the richest country in the world, the tax money goes to make wars, what conservatives call “defence budget” and the poor are left out of the “American dream” and have no right to free university and health care. Even if the elected President wants to promote it, he is defeated by the Congress and the warmongers. The other problem of the democratic capitalism is that the candidate for the presidency is elected not by direct vote but by an electoral college, and the candidate that gets more campaign money is the one that wins the election. I think that democracy in this country is just a word without meaning. However the American WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) majority of the population is happy with this, not considering that if the poor African-American, Latino, Oriental and Native members of the Minority class were educated and had access to health care, the society as a whole would be much happier and would live in peace with each other.
Note: Teresinka Pereira is the President of the International Writers Association. She is also Ambassador and Senator of the International States Parliament for Safety and Peace, and Minister of Human Rights for the World Organization of Indigenous People. Teresinka Pereira is the Attorney Delegate in USA, from the Cambridge International University, Honorary President of the Hispanic Association of Writers and Honorary Ambassador of the International Forum for Literature, Arts and Culture (IFLAC) in USA.