Saturday, May 25, 2013

Poetry as Cultural Force

Photo by Kathleen Tyler Conklin

I attended Natasha Trethewey's closing lecture May 1st at the Library of Congress. Rather than quote directly, I will paraphrase her last words as poet laureate and write some thoughts that she left for me to absorb and to share with you.


Natasha focused her remarks around the theme of poetry as a cultural force.  Poetry gives us something that cannot be found elsewhere.  We as individuals and a nation turn to it when we need it.  Poetry then becomes a collective container for the profound experiences of our lives---birth, love, commitment, loss and grief.  It illuminates these experiences and gives them a necessary utterance.


To support these ideas, Natasha read from some of her favorite poets so that we as a group could "revel in the pleasure of poetry."


This pleasure was followed by another…standing in the Great Hall of the beautiful Thomas Jefferson Building…then walking out into the cool May evening and seeing the dome of our nation's Capitol glowing against a darkening, cerulean sky, illuminating for all the hope of freedom and the freedom of hope.  Symbol as cultural force.


("Thrall", Natasha Trethewey's newest poetry collection was published in the fall of 2012.)