Clarkson, Susan

Clarkson, Susan

Susan Clarkson

9 March 2013Feature

A member of the first Voices for Creative Vonviolence UK delegation to Afghanistan on the APV's vision for a peace Afghanistan

Susan Clarkson in Afghanistan with an Afghan Peace Volunteer Photo: VCNV UK

In December 2012, four of us, Susan Clarkson, Mary Dobbing, Maya Evans and Beth Tichborne, went to Kabul, Afghanistan, to stay with the Afghan Peace Volunteers. We went as the first UK delegation of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. VCNV are based in the US and were formed by Kathy Kelly. Several years ago, Kathy wrote in Peace News (PN 2527) about the APV, whom she had met in Bamiyan, and…

1 December 2012Feature

Susan Clarkson describes her preparation process for a journey of solidarity.

16 August: In the little red book, Advices and Queries, used by Quakers in Britain, no 27 urges us to ‘live adventurously’. Recently, for me, this has meant the possibility of travelling to Afghanistan.

Last year my friend Maya Evans went to Afghanistan with Voices for Creative Nonviolence US and on her return gave talks about her experiences.

I had always thought that my days of travel abroad were over, after time spent in the United States, Madagascar and Cameroon. Indeed, I…

28 August 2012Review

Read by Peter Firth Regeneration; 7hr 35m; £22.50 [CD], £7.99 [download]The Eye in the Door; 6h 41m; £21.50 [CD]The Ghost Road; 5h 51m; £21.50 [CD])Chivers Audio Books, 2005/2006; available from

Many PN readers will remember these critically acclaimed books, charting events in the final years of the First World War, from when they first appeared in the early 1990s. The first was later made into a film and the third won the Man Booker prize.

The two main characters are the fictional Billy Prior and the non-fictional William Rivers, an army doctor who treated victims of war trauma. In the first book, two of Rivers’ patients are the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and…

1 December 2011Comment

Drawing lessons from fiction, with plenty of spoilers if you haven't read the whole series.

I was inspired to look at the story of Harry Potter as a one of resistance and direct action by Shami Chakrabarti. In a BBC Radio 4 programme, the director of Liberty once talked about The Order of the Phoenix as a text which has many vivid examples of acts of resistance to dark forces and the abuse of power. Taking this observation as a starting point, I have looked at the whole Harry Potter story and discovered that it teaches us a great deal about what is needed to form an effective…

1 December 2011Review

PM Press, 2011; 500pp; £14.99

Like Bob Dylan, the source of this bookís title, Brian Willson celebrated his 70th birthday this year. I first heard about Willson while living in the US at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker in 2001. There I heard the story of how he lost his legs while trying to stop a train exporting arms to Nicaragua in 1987. I knew little more, but Willson soon joined the growing number of inspirational resisters I learned about and met during the two years I spent there. Some of these are named in this…

1 May 2011Review

PM Press / Trade root music, 2010; 2 CD set; £14.99

This collection of spoken word and song was originally a project for the 250th anniversary of Paine’s birth. The spoken element consists of quotations from Paine’s work, newspaper reports and diary entries from the period. The songs address contemporary issues and are performed with the passion and sincerity one has come to expect from Leon Rosselson and Robb Johnson.

The excellent sleeve notes by the performers chart the development of the project since its beginning in 1987. The…

1 June 2010Review

These two films, separated by 33 years (Winter Soldier was originally released in 1972; Sir, No Sir! in 2005), show how resistance to the war in Vietnam was alive and active among thousands of military personnel from the mid-1960s to the end of the war in 1975.

Both films chart the journey of over 30 young people from total acceptance of the cause of freeing Vietnam from communism, to defiant resistance and refusal to fight. They are interesting historically but their importance for…

1 November 2009Review

65 Peckham Road, SE5 8UH until 6 December. 12noon – 6pm, Tues–Sun.

This installation by the young, internationally-acclaimed Jerusalem-born Fast presents an original and often disturbing insight into the plight of asylum seekers and their struggle to be heard.

One film depicts an asylum seeker from a dystopian Britain seeking asylum in Africa. The preceding two films show, respectively, a dramatised interview between the artist and an asylum seeker in London, and a brief piece of original footage.

The films are five, 10 and 30 minutes in…

1 March 2009Review

Coventry Peace House, 2008; ISBN 978-0956052407; 137pp; £5; available from Coventry Peace House, 311 Stoney Stanton Rd, CV6 5DS; 02476 664 616

At the beginning of 2008, Coventry Peace House launched a campaign to highlight the plight of stateless people. This book – launched in Refugee Week 2008 – is the result of collaboration by workers on the campaign. Both campaign and book raise the issue of statelessness in Britain and globally, providing a valuable contribution to the wider issue of the sufferings of asylum seekers and the various ways in which this is addressed in Britain today.

The book begins by giving an overview…

1 December 2008Review

Oxford University Press, 2007; ISBN 978 0195327144; 704pp; £11.99

Between May and December of 1961 nearly 60 Freedom Rides took place across the southern states of America. The Riders came from a variety of backgrounds and crossed age, gender, race, geographical, professional, religious and political boundaries.

Their aim was to challenge in a nonviolent way the state laws which segregated blacks and whites in the transport systems of the southern states. Riders travelled side by side on interstate buses, defied segregation laws in the public…