So in this world, what should we be writing? In the 90s, Carolyn Forche's poetry of witness called for a "social" space within which to grapple with our disastrous world. Take Nick Flynn's new book, The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands. Is this considered poetry of witness? I find the differentiation between personal, political, and social in Forche's description to be the troubling bit. Flynn's book pulls together references to news headlines, lines from Galway Kinnell and Krishna and Arcade Fire songs and Abu Ghraib testimonials to create a timely portrait that is not apolitical, not apersonal, and not asocial. I guess also the other thing I feel weird about is the passivity of the word "witness," as if it could only take information in and then testify. I think the writer should have a powerful opinion because the writer has a powerful conscience.
So I'm sorry this blog entry is so half-baked, but I guess what I'm asking is how can we write about the space of the world we inhabit, without separating ourselves or the poem from it, without taking a stand after-the-fact and testifying? We live here and work here. What aren't we doing?