Taking a Stand
Juan Méndez has experienced human rights abuse first hand. As a result of his work with political prisoners in the late 1970s, the Argentinean military dictatorship arrested, tortured, and held him for more than a year. During that time, Amnesty International adopted him as a “Prisoner of Conscience.” After his release, he moved to the United States and continued his lifelong fight for the rights of others, and the lessons he has gleaned over the decades can help us with our current struggles.
Here, he sets forth an authoritative and incisive examination of torture, detention, exile, armed conflict, and genocide, whose urgency is even greater in the wake of America’s recent disastrous policies. Méndez offers a new strategy for holding governments accountable for their actions, providing an essential blueprint for different human rights groups to be able to work together to effect change.
With the assistance of activist and poet Wentworth (The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle, 2010, etc.), Méndez examines the uses of arbitrary detention, torture, disappearances, rendition and genocide in countries around the world.
“Inspires…vividly recounted examples of human rights violations convey the urgency of the cause.”
“Juan Méndez is a true leader of the human rights movement. In Taking A Stand he presents us with his extraordinary experience and distils it into words of wisdom.”
—Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International
“Juan Méndez has been at the forefront of the global struggle for human rights for more than three decades and is a widely admired figure. His book, Taking a Stand, weaves together history, analysis and autobiography to create a compelling narrative of many of the battles for rights in which he has been a leader.”
—Aryeh Neier, President, Open Society Institute
The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle
In this extraordinary collection of 43 poems, Ms. Wentworth takes her readers by the hand, walks them across a vast landscape, and everywhere witnesses the residue of the past both good and bad, eventually ending along coastal America, revealing the secrets of the clouds scattered like random thoughts, how the stones on the beach glitter their gathered starlight, or how the river holds the wind between its teeth.
Ms. Wentworth, who is the Poet Laureate of South Carolina, roots her collection in the land of palmettos and pine and barrier islands, where the groan of the fishing boat’s horn is the sound of her childhood, where days when lobsters washed up on the beaches in piles and she fed their claws to chickens, where the sudden winter rain exposed the skin lining her heart.
Marjory Heath Wentworth is a poet of great geographical range, Cambodia, Gaza, and, most lovingly, the South Carolina low country, but the terrain she knows best is the human heart, its vagaries and complexities, its depths. What a wonderful poet she is.
—Ron Rash, author of Among the Believers and Serena.
Marjory Heath Wentworth says in a poem her grandmother spoke seven languages fluently. I don’t know how many languages Wentworth can speak, but I do know she can write/speak one language superbly: American English. Her poems sing, dance, and see with sharpness things of the world that, for seeing them, make us more human.”
— Thomas Lux, author of God Particles and The Cradle Place.
Marjory Heath Wentworth reminds us, once again, of why we return to poetry for solace and courage and ballast when our hearts are at their fullest, or most broken moments. The poems, each and every, take the reader on a wondrous journey back and forth between the ordinary and the extraordinary, proving to us that the miraculous is everywhere, if only we look at it in the right light.
In the second poem of the book, ‘Begin Again,’ the poet implores the reader to ‘tell me about the courage to bloom,’ and then she uses her beautiful book to show us all how do just that in the face of every kind of adversity—a father dying young, a middle-aged brother fighting for his life, a friend undergoing chemotherapy, the Killing Fields of Cambodia—even in the apparent safety and refinery of the suburbs.
Not long ago, someone told me that he loved poetry ‘because it brings together two seemingly disparate things’ and in their unexpected melding, some new truth is derived. And so it is in these poems in which a box turtle trekking to a pond appears right next to ‘the shy widower watering roses in the dark’; in which Shanghai and Salem fit together like a duplex (or a couplet); in which even the ‘unspent coins in a saucer’ are rapt with significance.
In the same poem that begs the reader to have the courage to bloom, Wentworth reminds us that beginning again, like writing really good poetry, ‘is like building a boat of bruised days from twisted hands.’ This wonderful, necessary, urgent collection, is just that boat—sturdy, sleek, and sea-worthy in even the roughest of seas, with Wentworth at the helm—a most able Captain steering us back towards safety and grace, and back home, at last, to ourselves.
— Lisa Starr, Rhode Island Poet Laureate
Shackles, By Marjory Heath Wentworth, illustration by Leslie Darwin Pratt-Thomas, has won the Silver Medal in the national 2009 Moonbeam Children’s Book awards for multi-cultural children’s books.
Based on a true story, Shackles describes what happens when a group of young boys search for buried treasure in their backyard on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and dig up a bit of history – a set of shackles used centuries ago on slaves who were held on the island. Neighbor and friend Mr. Green is summoned – and tries to explain the painful hidden history of Sullivan’s Island.
One out of every three African Americans had ancestors who were brought to Sullivan’s Island and held or perished in the slave trade. This important story reminds us of a piece of American history that is too often forgotten or overlooked.
It’s great material for use in schools as an early introduction to slavery in America because the narrative works much in the same way as good history: there’s adventure, then a mystery, then discovery, disbelief, explanation, and at the end, the need to run out and tell someone.
— FOREWARD MAGAZINE
[T]his compelling picture book speaks in clear, lyrical prose, true to Hunter’s perspective, with beautiful oil paintings that show the white boys at play and then with their African American neighbor confronting the cruel history in their own backyard.
This is a story for children everywhere, but especially children in South Carolina.
— Fran Hawk, THE POST AND COURIER
Ninety-Six Press is pleased to announce the publication of Marjory Wentworth’s second collection of poems, Despite Gravity. This new book is a rich collection ranging from the political to the personal. The title poem, “Despite Gravity,” was written for the dedication of the new Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston, SC.
As Poet Laureate of the state, Ms. Wentworth is often asked to compose public poems for an occasion, and this is one such public poem. The poem examines the workers who came from all over the world to “construct a framework/into the endless air, where cables…..are as elegant as the strings on a harp/playing the sounds of wind rising off water.”
Dedicated to a young Mexican man who fell to his death during construction of the bridge, this poem is the ideal title poem for Ms. Wentworth, whose lyrical strength has always been rooted in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where she has made her home for the last twenty years.
“Simultaneously erotic and spiritual, the poems in Noticing Eden are bold evocations of the mysteries of love and, death and the mystical place where water and sand meet. This resonant collection is layered not only with aesthetic goodness, but with hope.”
— Sue Monk Kidd (author)
“Noticing Eden establishes Marjory Wentworth as a poet of keen observation and passionate understanding. Her work is so thoroughly immersed in nature that it seems as if sea and sky speak for her and not that she speaks of them. She finds ‘the music of bones/entwined in mortal language’; she sees ‘clinging angels/unravel in a gauze across the sky’; she has heard the ‘howl of one human heart’ fill the universe.”
— Fred Chappell (author)