Word and Justice:
“It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there.” — William Carlos Williams, “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”
Williams, as physician and poet, saw a great deal of life and death, literally and metaphorically. Some of us have had professions that allow us to see the day to day joys and deep sorrows of humanity, the birthing and the dying. And all of humanity is faced each day with the potential for so much chaos and creativity. I watch the news….and I try to find whatever I can through “alternative” news sources and I am always surprised by the variety of perspectives I read or hear through various “stories.” It seems that it is all story, the news is often referred to as the “narrative” of the different events. And the narrative always depends on the narrator, that is, there is no such thing as a single story but, on the other hand, a number of stories given “authenticity” by the narrator – in the case of the news…the newscaster, writers, editors, and, maybe, even the sponsors of consumer networks! Poetry may or may not be offer a counter-narrative, an alternative news source, for those of us willing and needing, “dying” for lack of that alternative. So I write and read poetry as a way, not to make order out of chaos, but to discover my own narrative voice in the midst of life and death. The dangers as well as the mundane details of daily life give us all a chance to add a beauty to the horrific, to find something invaluable when all seems lost. It may be difficult to get the news from poetry but it is not impossible!!