Sometimes, fellow writers ask me, “How can we write poetry, with such terrible things going on in the world around us? After listening to the morning news, I can’t start a poem.”
Adorno spoke of the impossibility of writing poetry after Auschwitz. A demonic variety of evils have continued, in an unbroken stream, to the present day. But we go on writing poetry, though many engage in social and political action too. Only there’s a deeper meaning to Adorno’s statement. Our poetry should show, in this poem and that, that it, too, suffers the barbarisms of the age – even if it can’t integrate them. Otherwise, it will read as solipsistic pap, schizophrenically sundered from life around it. It will be impossible to meet it as good poetry.
For me, a poem should be hard and truthful when it speaks of savagery. But it should, simultaneously, touch the nerve of sympathy for living creatures, and combat uncaring familiarity. In our media-age, we become over-familiar with newsreels of war. Poetry should be what a boiled egg can’t, both hard and soft: both aware of wide-spread barbarisms and intimately introspective, personal. Then poetry speaks to our full being as humans. It seeds and sustains it. It must go on being written, to answer nihilism and despair with the hope of empathy and compassion.
Quite a few of the poems in my upcoming Black Moss collection, ZIGZAGS, aim at being like boiled eggs.
Be sure to join Roger for the launch of his book at the Main Library on Mackenzie Street in Sudbury. He will be there Saturday October 1st from 2pm-3pm signing copies and interacting with his fans. Light snacks and coffee will also be available.
Roger Nash will also be available for signing on October 2nd, from 2 pm to 3.30, as part of Culture Days for Manitoulin Island, at the Harbour Front in Gore Bay.
On November 8, 7 pm., at the White Water Gallery in North Bay, Roger will be appearing for another reading.