New Article up on 9/11 Poetry: Beyond Grief and Grievance by Philip Metres

You may have noticed that I’ve been obsessed with 9/11 recently. So much disturbs me still about it, especially as the anniversary comes and goes each year: how it forced such a negative sea change in international politics (or was manipulated to that end) as well as a return to a McCarthy era-like culture of fear and self-censorship. Also disturbing is how so much of the evidence from the attacks was literally carted away and destroyed before any serious and thorough investigation could be conducted. The spectre of Virtuality haunts the entire spectacle, regardless of the particular narrative ascribed to the events to make them more real and, as would be expected, more terrifying with each detail. This goes for every theory of events I’ve read or listened to. The fact that we will never know everything, regardless of how often the standard narrative is reinforced or how many times you watch Loose Change, is perhaps the most disturbing thing.

Anyways, I’ve been reading a watching just about everything of any value that I can find about 9/11 and the response to it. I was looking through the Articles section at Poetry Foundation today and found this excellent reflective essay on the issue:

Beyond Grief and Grievance: The poetry of 9/11 and its aftermath by Philip Metres

It very thoughtfully examines a number of poems which responded to 9/11, providing a thorough summary of the 9/11 poetry phenomenon. I especially appreciated it’s treatment of Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America,” which I agree was a very important poem that few were willing to listen to. For me, it’s most important point was to emphasize the fact that there has never been a unified America, that the 9/11 attacks did not bring us all together, and to say so is to whitewash the violent and divisive history of America, both in its past and its present. Metres essay gives it a fair reading and treats it’s message with the respect it deserves.



2 thoughts on “New Article up on 9/11 Poetry: Beyond Grief and Grievance by Philip Metres

  1. Glad to hear you bumping this poem. It is the last poem to make the national news and, yeah, yr dead on–it wasn’t taken seriously. And Baraka still isn’t taken seriously by a surprising number of poets who can’t look past some position he took which now looks extra distasteful taken out of context.

    • And taking things out of context seems to be something begin done more and more easily these days, for poets and many others. Look at the disgusting coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest by corporate and even public media. What is also surprising is how difficult it is for some people to distinguish between the content of a poem, the statements made in it, and the personal beliefs and positions of its author. I can’t help but think of Eminem’s “I’m a Criminal” where he takes issue with those people who can’t distinguish between his misogynist/gangster/murderer personas in his songs and the moments of autobiographical confession. A lot people just don’t listen closely or think about some things at all. It’s sad.

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