“Make Love, Not War”: A Poet’s Response

March 24, 2022


If the overwhelming majority of countries belonging to the United Nations are appalled at the war crimes being committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, then let us remember that things were not much different in the 1960s. Does anyone really think that other countries weren’t equally disgusted at the appalling tactics used by the U.S. government?

Out of the protests that happened in this country, an imperative gained popular circulation:

“Make Love, Not War.”

This morning I began to wonder if there was any evidence of the authorship of that phrase:

04: Make Love Not War (1965)

I myself am inclined to believe that Diane Newell Meyer deserves credit for having first publicly gotten the phrase into the public sphere, whereas Penelope Rosemont deserves our gratitude for commodifying it. It’s possible that the activists in Chicago came up with this proclamation all on their own, but they cannot prove that they had not already absorbed it from news accounts at the time.One could say that it was “in the air,” and it’s certainly not surprising that this binary found such compressed urgency.

As a contrast to the recent post on the war in Ukraine, I post therefore a link to a poem by Alexis Rhone Fancher, “Ode to My Husband’s Perfect French.”


The humor at the end of her poem should not distract from one of the aspects that makes this poem so successful: the plasticity of the scene. I know my students tire of me emphasizing how imagery is at its best when it conjures a three-dimensional space. In this instance, it is the implied motion of each finger in turn. The reader who speeds through the numbers in rote recitation will lose over 99 percent of the erotic charge. Each number is a sentence unto itself, wiggling with the specificity of its desire.

For those who would like a “side-dish” of a short film, I recommend “I Only Know What I Know Now.”

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