I'd like to say a little something about "Been There/Done That" as a creative urge. Or for that matter, about remembrance of any sort that requires for its continued potency the visit of someone who lived through and lived beyond the tragedies described.
Frankly, I'm worried. What is the trajectory of humanity's memory after the singular embodying human voice fades out? What if the art isn't made? The symbol or symbolic act not enacted? The bridge not extended...?
Sunday was Yom Hashoah for my son's Hebrew School class--the day in which the Shoah is remembered throughout the diaspora world.
Our shul is blessed to have among our members a poet survivor--a very fine poet--Zahava Sweet whose book, The Return of Sound was published by Bombshelter Press in 2005.
But the Shoah is still taught largely voice to voice, witness to non-witness.
What will be required for the Non-Witness one day to be able to say, "this is because what happened to me when I was brought out" Of Poland. Or Austria.
A certain vibrant subsection of contemporary poetry is written from the tradition of "I was born there" "I lived that" "I was watching". But what is the trajectory of that poetry after the voice in which it is sounded fades out, dies of old age or perceived triviality or the inability to create something lasting of lasting horror. Of course outside of art and self there is no lasting horror. And isn't that, then, the problem? What if the art itself cannot or does not manage to thrive beyond the human connections and day-to-day political potencies that sustain and nourish it in its own era?
When (and how) is Poetry of Witness poetry-enough and witness-enough? And what if events of genuine importance have no living poet-witness left at all?