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Poetry's capacity to rattle governments [US/Guantanamo Bay]:
"The first poem I saw was sent to me by Abdulsalam al Hela," he says. "It's a moving cry about the injustice of arbitrary detention and at the same time a hymn to the comforts of religious faith."

"It was interesting to me because I did a PhD in literature, but I didn't think too much about it."

A second poem from another client followed soon after, and Falkoff began to wonder if other lawyers also had clients who were sending poetry. It turned out that Guantánamo Bay is "filled with itinerant poets".

Many of the poems deal with the pain and humiliation inflicted on the detainees by the US military. Others express disbelief and a sense of betrayal that Americans - described in one poem as "protectors of peace" - could deny detainees any kind of justice. Some engage with wider themes of nostalgia, hope and faith in God.

But most of the poems, including the lament by Al Hela which first sparked Falkoff's interest, are unlikely to ever see the light of day. Not content with imprisoning the authors, the Pentagon has refused to declassify many of their words, arguing that poetry "presents a special risk" to national security because of its "content and format". In a memo sent on September 18 2006, the team assigned to deal with communications between lawyers and their clients explains that they do not "maintain the requisite subject matter expertise" and says that poems "should continue to be considered presumptively classified".
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