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« This just in: Calling all former CETA artists! Tell your story. | Main | Laura Orem Presents a Poem by Damon McLaughlin »

March 02, 2011

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I've really held off on jumping into the fray here but it seems to me that voicing accusations of being a racist or of writing something that is racist is going to have a chilling effect on any meaningful conversation. Who wants to join in when they risk being labeled as such for having a particular stance? I didn't take offense at the poem under discussion. Alas (as our current polarized political climate shows all too clearly) there are people who have thoughts like the speaker in the poem. Some of them are educated thoughtful people who are surprised to discover their own residual racists thoughts despite their best efforts to be rid of them. Some of them are likely in the midst of those of us who are privileged enough to read and enjoy poetry. If one recognizes him or her self in the poem, all the better. Hoagland is right not to try to explain himself. Generations hence will not have him around just as we can't ask John Donne to explain his sonnets. Isn't one measure of a good poem that it compels us to reread it (who said that?)?By that measure, Hoagland's poem succeeds. If we put aside the inflamatory language we may realize that he's done us a great service.

I love "internest."

Jennifer, please don't ever kill yourself. Or stop bleading.

Diann

This is the first item on the Group Page I created for the "Notes on the State of [Southern} Poetry": http://chronicle.com/article/African-American-Literature/126867/#comment-175135740. Below it I wrote "Enlarging the Change indeed."

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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