Poetry Reading: 'Blood of Rwanda'

Poet Freda Denis-Cooper reads "Blood of Rwanda," her response to the HBO movie on the 1994 genocide, Sometimes in April. Denis-Cooper lives in Durham, N.C. Her collection of poems is Stones Unturned: The Soul Poetic.

ED GORDON, host:

And now, onto our poet's moment. In 1994, Rwanda experienced one of the most heinous genocides in history. An estimated 800,000 people were killed at the hands of their own countrymen. Here is poet Freda Denis-Cooper, with Blood of Rwanda.

Ms. FREDA DENIS-COOPER (Author, 'Blood of Rwanda'): (Reading) "Children hand in hand, Hutu and Tutsi scatter like cockroaches and killed just like that, as if they were. Separate as if unequal. Separate as if... Black against black, blood against blood. No help from within, no help without. U.N. rescue missions abandon millions left to die. Taking whites only, only leaving behind weapons of mass black destruction. Here are the weapons of mass destruction. The blood of her people is on our hands. The blood of Rwanda is yet on our hands."

I was inspired to write the poem Blood of Rwanda after watching the HBO original movie sometime in April. I was deeply moved by the stories that played out on the screen, but disturbed even more knowing that the mass killings in Rwanda were real, and that world powers and uninformed citizens sat idly by disinclined to help in any meaningful way. We must not forget.

GORDON: Poet Freda Denis-Cooper lives in Durham, North Carolina. Her collection of poems is titled Stones Unturned: The Soul Poetic.

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GORDON: That's our program for today. Thanks for joining us. To listen to the show, visit NPR.org. NEWS AND NOTES was created by NPR News and the African American Public Radio Consortium.

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GORDON: I'm Ed Gordon, is NEWS AND NOTES.

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