Noises are the sounds we have learned to ignore.
—R. Murray Schafer
After conducting a yearlong clearance review, the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) granted me permission in April 2015 to visit Guantánamo Bay as a part of a so-called Media Tour. I had applied as a poet researching dysfluency. I provided numerous documents and references and agreed to several background checks, and then final approval arrived as a signed “Country Clearance Form.” I booked a round-trip ticket from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the only American airport with service to Guantánamo Bay, on a flight operated by IBC Airways (“Your Gateway to the Caribbean”).
I’m not exactly sure why I was allowed to visit Gitmo. From conversations with military personnel stationed there, I learned that access is awarded on a case-by-case basis and that the criteria for acceptance change with every command rotation. As far as I know, I was the first poet to be granted clearance. I got the sense that some units are simply more open than others to non-journalists and to applications that propose political or critical stories.