I counted six bombs, one of us would say,
No, there were 5, one would add,
I didn’t even wake up, another would say
did we ever talk about
boys, the color of a new backpack,
new tennis shoes, the new movie?
We must have.
—excerpt from “The Morning After,” Glazed With War, p. 46.
Pantea Amin Tofangchi’s poetic voice—from the perspective of a child growing up in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, September 1980 to August 1988—rings with a clarion call for peace that transcends even the noblest peace-building rhetoric of today’s world.
Tofangchi, who lives in Howard County, is the art director and graphic designer for Advertising Media Plus and The Business Monthly.
She’s also a mother of eight-year-old twins, the very age she was when the Iran-Iraq War began—and “Glazed With War” begins through the eyes of an eight-year-old:
…carrying a bag filled
with pencils: red and black
eraser, pencil sharpener, ruler
napkins and a foldable cup
an apple, feta cheese and walnut sandwich
along with war
was normal to me.
—except from “In Second Grade,” Glazed With War, p. 3
Tofangchi debuted her book, published by Mason Jar Press, in mid-November at a Nov. 10 reading at Red Emma’s in Baltimore. Another reading is set for Nov. 14 at Shaw’s Tavern in Washington.
Writer and broadcaster Judith Krummeck—who penned the introduction to Glazed With War—asked, during the book launch, “Why did it take you so long?”
Tofangchi answered: “I think by nature, for all of us, the first thing that we do when we get traumatized—we block it. That’s what I did—I blocked it and I did not want to talk about it.”
She first began “unblocking” her voice when she wrote a poem in answer to an assignment in a writing classroom at University of Baltimore.
“This was a very difficult assignment for me, but when I read the poem in the classroom, it was a life-changing experience, not because what everyone said—but because nobody said anything. It was a very thick, black silence. Nobody knew what to say, what to do.”
After a very long pause, one of her friends said: “You lived through that? I’ve been your friend for a long, long time, and I never knew.”
Tofangchi still remembers those moments of sharing as “traumatizing and rewarding at the same time.”
By reliving her trauma—and also her childhood joys—in the pages of “Glazed With War,” Tofangchi has not only found personal rewards but she enables readers to see war through the lens of a childhood.
Dylan Thomas wrote that “the world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it.”
In “Glazed With War,” Tofangchi has added 56 of them as a gift she has written “for all the war children of the world.” Her collection also brings the gift of a window through which those in power can draw back the curtain and witness, through a child’s eyes, the most compelling of reasons to finally work for peace.