Monday, May 19, 2008

Social Uses of Poetry

Poetry can be the linguistic equivalent of weight training – an experience of language in all its resistance, a world in which “more difficult” does in fact mean “better.” Or it can be hollowed out in service entirely to the referent, an almost weightless domain of “experience.” Whenever the latter happens, however, social institutions (including those that replicate themselves inside of us) institute an almost automatic hierarchy of such experiences & emotions. This is why it’s so easy for people to falsify memoirs of dark beginnings & upward striving. We want to believe. We want to think that poetry can heal the rift between mother & son, even in the light of a conflict started under false pretenses with no clear goal or end in sight. But no amount of poetry is going to solve the problems of Iraq.

Ron Silliman
May 10, 2008

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