September 20th, 2011

white dress back

Turning to Poetry

The Onion -- possibly America's best news source -- just posted a story about desperate Americans seeking solace from the works of Philip Levine, our new poet laureate.

"Thank God this country has a poet laureate," recently out-of-work glassworker Mitch Tate, 44, told reporters. "Without [2004-2006 laureate] Ted Kooser's profound lines likening the destruction of a galaxy billions of miles away to a snowflake falling on water, I'm not sure we ever could have mustered the inner strength to overcome the devastation of Hurricane Katrina."

A lot of truth in that. The more stressed I am, the more I need poetry; I've recently been drinking it in enormous gulps, desperate for solace, order, understanding. Moreover, Levine is a good choice for these times. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, he grew up working-class in Depression-era Detroit. (For a portrait of that world and how it was affected by World War II, read Marge Piercy's superb Gone to Soldiers.)

So what gives you inner strength in times of stress? Got any good poets or poems to share?

So here is a little Levine to comfort your heart.

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