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August 11, 2014


This is such a beautiful essay. Thank you. I have been thinking so much about why in the heck do I write poetry when there are such terrible things going on in the world right now (where shall we start? Gaza, the children at the U.S. border, the people starving and roasting on top of the mountain, the children in my own town who have nothing to eat this morning, the wives who are battered by husbands who were battered by their fathers, and them by their fathers...)The list of suffering is endless. I often worry that my notion that poetry can make a difference is so naive. And yet, poets have, in some instances, in some places, been silenced. Surely this indicates that there is strength in speaking the truth, and as you so aptly describe, poetry can speak the truth in a way that an essay or story often cannot. A well-crafted, surprising poem can do what a longer essay cannot do: it can grab the reader's attention, and in short order, bring a flash of awareness. That said, I am so glad I took a few minutes to read your essay this morning on the blog. Thank you for writing it. Onward with poetry everywhere...

Thank you so much Lisa for your kind words about my essay. There is so much going on in the world now and as you said, the list of suffering is endless. Poetry is important. I was thinking today about "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. Her poem has made such a difference. And yes, poetry can speak the truth. Go poetry!

Janet R. Kirchheimer

Janet--I've been learning a great deal lately, through readings, about memory. One salient point is that without our memories we cannot have a full identity. It's as if we need, as humans, to know all of our memory; then to accept it and ourselves as we find ourselves. This seems the way to freedom. For, if the memory is in the body and we do not know it, it is possible that it can destroy us. I have personal experience with this through childhood mistreatment and the subsequent 'pushing away' of such memory for decades. Now, in part through poetic expression, I remember and reshape how I view my earlier life and my 'self'. There is little that is as sweet as living with a high degree of truth and authenticity. This sweetness can overcome, I believe, the pain and suffering one bears even from physical, emotional and sexual abuses. Thank you for your self and your poetry--you are an inspiration to me. Keep on being you--you are doing it so well.


Thank you so your kind comments. You are correct - "without our memories we cannot have a full identity." I am honored that I am an inspiration to you. It means so much to me. May we keep discovering our selves (I believe we have more than one), and may we continue to live in truth and authenticity.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


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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