Sunday, September 16, 2007

On the V-Tec Shootings

Does caution precede exploitation? Talk about being in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time. Suppose you teach in the Virginia Tech creative writing program and the shootings have just occurred and the shooter was a student of yours. And more. You’re a poet whose style is breezy and free associational and clever but rarely in a cloying way, and what your poems tend to embrace are not mass murders committed by psychotic adolescents—indeed how does one fit language to such an event—but rather love and nature, what happens every day.

How do you apply your style, your wit, your voice to that departure into darkness? But you try, you do apply it because writing poems is what you do, and poems after all in a real sense come by themselves. But how does a reader describe the effects?

Is it a matter of a tenor trying to hit a note below his natural register, or worse, is it a self-indulgent venture by a happy voice into a terrible region, a kind of colonization, an opportunity to contemplate shocked silence, an empty gun, bereaved parents, and report the results nationally?

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