Friday, May 12, 2017

Sorry you didn't get a note from me yesterday. I'd gone up north on Wednesday afternoon for band practice, and then raced back here first thing in the morning so that I could make it to my high school session . . . and I'm so glad I did because I got to work with a young woman from Iraq who is drafting an extraordinarily moving poem.

The tone of the poem is both elegiac and puzzled: the writer misses her country and admires it, but is also saddened by the fact that that she has known it only as chaos and rubble, never as the beautiful land that older people can recall. Her feelings vibrate through the piece, despite grammar struggles and vocabulary confusions. To me, her poem is an important lesson in the power of a language to transcend its own materials. Every other word may be "wrong," yet a sentence may still sing.

My life has improved considerably since I've started spending time with these students.

* * *
from The Sleeping Beauty by Hayden Carruth 
The poem moves.
                                    After the fierce intention,
The exalting, reaching and thrusting through lust,
Through densities of image, to explode transcendence
From a broken language, to touch
Everyone’s wordlessness, to crush what was meant
Till it dances clear of language like forestfire bent
And flaring in the wind—

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