Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Poetry is not a warm and fuzzy thing

That's a misquote from a student of Richard Hague's. He read at the Poetry Forum Monday night, and passed out a little broadside of poems inspired by his high school students afterward. One of them used a quote from a student, which was to that same effect, but I don't remember the exact words.

He was a good reader, and he read a few uncomfortable poems, which liberated me to read an uncomfortable poem. I posted a draft here awhile back. It's called Playing Dead and is inspired by something that really happened in my hometown shortly after I had gone away to college. The story has haunted me for years. I'd never read it aloud before, and wasn't too sure about reading it then, but I got a great response, and it read really well. It still makes me cringe a little, the story of it, but as a poem, it seems to have value.

I'm not sure how I feel about the value of making art from horror and violence, except as a way of encompassing it within our minds. But is that art, or is it therapy? Can it start as therapy and become art through revision and a certain distance?


Dick said...

Art from horror records and what results stands as a truth for posterity, viz 'Los Fusilamentos del 3 de Mayo en Madrid, 1814' by Goya, or Picasso's 'Guernica'. Widescreen examples, maybe, but the principle stands for your very fine poem too.

Emily said...

Thank you for the comment. I always think of Picasso's "Guernica" when I think of this subject.