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Thursday, April 06, 2017

National Poetry Month 2017: Carolyn Forché, The Boatman

This counts as my entry for April 5, 2017. It's been a hell of a day.

For the record - the historical record, for we bloggers are the diarists who serve as ground-level observers of history: the civil war in Syria took a very horrifying turn today. Following a string of expressions of tolerance (if not outright support) of the regime of the murderous Bashar al-Assad by the regime of the moronic and illegitimate Donald Trump, Assad decided to turn it up to 11 and use chemical weapons against civilians in a rebel city. Lots of people died. Men, women, children, "beautiful, beautiful babies," to quote Trump, who has apparently discovered a sense of sympathy for people as still-warm corpses who he would have enthusiastically turned away if they came to him as living refugees.

New York Times report on the attack

A friend online, Ike Renfield, contemplated posting Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est," a poem about the misery of war and the falsity of Horace's statement "Sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country." The poem contains a vivid description of one unlucky soldier who didn't get his gas mask on in time. (Owen, a British soldier, would be killed later in the war, a week almost to the hour before the armistice was declared.)

My own selection is one that was shared with me some time ago by poet Craig Czury. It is a poem of more recent vintage, on the plight of refugees escaping to an uncertain life and the promise of a possibility of freedom. As it is so recent, I will just provide a link to the published version.

Carolyn Forché, The Boatman

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