Thursday, January 14, 2021

Yesterday afternoon, after spending the morning going back and forth between two editing projects, I drafted three more Accident Sonnets. I really don't know what I think about these poems, but they are occupying me. I am taking them seriously. I feel as if they are work.

Today: more of the same, I guess . . . at least more of the editing, and I'm hoping for poems as well. But who knows what news the day will bring? We are at the mercy of history. 

Earlier this week I was writing to a friend who is drafting a poem about the putsch, encouraging him to experiment, in his next drafts, with language that enacts the violence that he is trying to capture. And since then I've found myself returning, in my mind, to this disturbing and difficult aspect of the art: in order to create outrage in the reader, to capture the outrage of a situation, we must, with our words, evoke and participate in that outrage. This same friend remarked, too, about the shame he endures at being the kind of person who feels the need to look so intently at the violence of events. Shame is a heavy load to carry.

For whatever reason, I am fortunate enough not to feel shame about my need to document and replay and re-feel, via words. Maybe I am too obsessed by the task to pay attention to shame. When it comes to words, my first urge is to give them all the room they need. Nonetheless, I recognize the strange horribleness of that urge. I recognize my ruthlessness. I understand how, for some people, for many people, it might feel like a tumor or an infection.


nancy said...

Wandering thought for the day:
I remember the moment when I realized that "ruthless" had a root, and that people formerly used it as a noun, and that "ruthfull" is just as possible to use in writing and speaking as "ruthless." But "ruth" is deemed archaic, whereas "ruthless" is exceedingly common. What is it about us as a society that, through our daily use of language (and, often, our behavior), we value the absence of pity, compassion, and remorse more than its presence?
Now that I have that out of my system, I really need to start grading exams!

Dawn Potter said...

Well, there is the name Ruth, which is common. But I don't think that ruthless necessarily connotes the absence of pity, compassion, or remorse. It think it also evokes single-mindedness, a clarity of purpose, an unwillingness to be swayed, and that's a quality which can be moral or immoral.