It’s been a hell of a 24 hours for writers demonstrating moral courage.
Last night at the National Book Awards, over a dozen NBA finalists took to the stage to use their moment in the spotlight to oppose the ongoing bombardment of Gaza and to call for a ceasefire.
Then, earlier this morning, the news broke that Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, essayist, and poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine, Anne Boyer, has resigned from her post, writing in her resignation letter that “the Israeli state’s U.S.-backed war against the people of Gaza is not a war for anyone” and that she “won’t write about poetry amid the ‘reasonable’ tones of those who aim to acclimatize us to this unreasonable suffering.”
Here is Boyer’s extraordinary resignation letter—in which she takes direct aim at the language used by her (now former) employer in its coverage of the war on Gaza—in full:
I have resigned as poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine.
The Israeli state’s U.S.-backed war against the people of Gaza is not a war for anyone. There is no safety in it or from it, not for Israel, not for the United States or Europe, and especially not for the many Jewish people slandered by those who claim falsely to fight in their names. Its only profit is the deadly profit of oil interests and weapon manufacturers. The world, the future, our hearts—everything grows smaller and harder from it. This is not only a war of missiles and land invasions. It is the ongoing devastation of the people of Palestine, people who have resisted throughout decades of occupation, forced dislocation, deprivation, surveillance, siege, imprisonment, and torture.
Because our status quo is self-expression, sometimes all artists have left is to refuse. So I refuse. I won’t write about poetry amidst the ‘reasonable’ tones of those who aim to acclimatize us to this unreasonable suffering. No more ghoulish euphemisms. No more sanitized hell-words. No more warmongering lies.
If this resignation leaves a hole in the news the size of poetry, then that is the true shape of the present.”
Let’s hope that Boyer’s courage inspires other writers of her stature to use their platforms to speak out against this unconscionable war.