Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Powers of language in shadowy times

St. Elijah's Monastery near Mosul, Iraq, constructed in the late 6th century,
obliterated in the 21st century
Each of us is in contact with so many people via Facebook, twitter, the comments under online articles, and and so on, and I've felt burdened of late by certain dominant, humorless tendencies online. What if we tried to take a world that is slantdicular and often evil--something we simply cannot deny after Auschwitz, the Holodomor, the Gulag, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Rwandan genocide, Syrian gas attacks on children and families, and much more--and tried to make it stand up straight by each of us being examples of clear-speaking truth (with good humor and without obfuscation or jargon) with no residue at all of contempt and hatred? What if we made ourselves stand up a little straighter in the process? Maybe even we could even be examples of out-of-fashion plain old goodness, as best we could achieve it.

Could we each make a tiny but transformative difference in the world with words? Could we make the world a little better, small as we are? We are tiny compared to the mass of human beings, yet we contact so many others via online sites and social media, and they contact others in turn... Our word-reach is, in fact, enormous, and we have no idea how far the words go. Are we in fact making the world for ourselves and others a worse place by wielding so much scorn as a word-weapon (rather than generosity and humor and clear back-and-forth discussion where people learn from one another)? 

What if we kept to clarity of thought, practiced fair back-and-forth discussion, and sent out light-drenched word-bouquets of truth and beauty and even love instead of weeds dripping with scorn and contempt? Could we affirm by such acts that each human person is of some mysterious, precious value? Could that help to transform the nature of the world for the better? Could that make the situation of all of us a better one? Could we live into the ideal (despite the existence of error and evil and despite those who refuse the good) even through the debased modes of social media and online comments?

You see what I am: change me, change me! --Randall Jarrell

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Linkfest: some poems online

Images from three in-print poetry books--
The Throne of Psyche,
Thaliad
,
and The Foliate Head.
All art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

I have added about 150 links to poems online on the stories-and-poems page. Some are poems or excerpts from published books--Claire (LSU), The Throne of Psyche (Mercer), The Foliate Head (UK: Stanza), and Thaliad (Montreal: Phoenicia)--and others are from future books, including a good many poems from The Book of the Red King. Some of them are not final versions, having been tweaked before they found a home in a book.

Thanks to Clive Hicks-Jenkins and three wonderful designers--Andrew Wakelin of Wales for The Foliate Head, Mary-Frances Glover Burt of Atlanta for The Throne of Psyche, and Elizabeth Adams for Thaliad--the books are beautiful. Good to have and to hold and to read.