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that sense of finding the right word next to the next word and the
next word, and having an off-rhyme leap up and deciding when to
break the linesI mean, all of those kind of artistic choices
are luscious. To me, they're hard and they're luscious. I certainly
write about themes that matter to me, and so, being able to articulate
in a really condensed, crystallized form, this big topic, I think
is a feat. And so, I love that concision that poetry demands [of]
you. And then I feel wonderful when people respond. That's not why
I set out to do it, but when that happens, it just reinforces, I
think, the power of saying something in a chiseled down art form.
was in Austin, and then I was going to give a reading on September
the 11th in San Antonio.
to where I was spending the night with a friend who was raised in
Poughkeepsie, New York. And then we just seemed to, like, sit non-stop
in front of the TV for hours and hours, just horrified, and wringing
our hands and pacing. And then it was also frightening, though,
because I was away from my family, I didn't know if there were going
to be a series of ten, twelve, fifteen of these things, and I wanted
to be with my children. It immediately became apparent I wasn't
going to get out of Austin for awhile. The planes weren't going
to go off; people were renting cars to try to get home, almost this
semi-panic. Also, here we are in the Bush's backyard. So Austin
was on high alert, and that felt scary. So for a number of reasons,
I think the enormity of it was even greater being away from home.
days later, I did the reading down in south Texas, and of course
I had to re-write my introduction, because what I was going to say
seemed just inappropriate. What I remarked upon was, how the connotation
of certain words has shifted so much. I had a poem in my book that
I wrote a couple of years ago, and it starts off and acknowledges
that I'm in this rural part of Iowa that feels uncomfortable. And
I say, I'm 200 miles from the nearest skyscraper. Now when I read
the line200 miles away from the nearest skyscraperthere's
a sense of, Aren't you lucky, aren't you safe. And that's not what
I meant. I meant, I'm missing the city. So, that was interesting
that words mean something different, and it's going to skew the
whole sentiment, perhaps, of the poem.
7 (Bombing of Afghanistan)
was very concerned aboutwhat percentage are going to die that
are civilians and already horribly harmed by what had gone on with
the Taliban. On the other hand, I certainly don't respect any of
the values, I think, of the Taliban. So those people lived under
horrible situations, and I think that to whatever degree they can
be liberatedparticularly, of course, the women and the girlsthat
is positive. But a big price to pay. And our country, too. The wealth
that our country has and the things that we gain heresomebody's
got to pay a price somewhere down the line. When there's injustice,
there's going to be explosions, and everybody's going to pay a price.
And I feel that being an American, and to a certain extent, the
life that I've been privileged to live, all of this feeds intoit's
a symbiotic stew, and on some level, we all have some involvement
in what's happened.
had both positive feelings about America and very negative feelings.
And having been to Europe briefly and lived a little bit of time
in Mexico, I've always felt this sense of a love-hate relationship
with America in general. And I think that that's true here, knowing
that in some ways the sort of blanket support of Israel has caused
some political problems that fed into this. So, I'm conflicted,
I would say.
the flag-waving is a simplistic approach. Of course, that's comforting
to have simple answers for people, and it's comforting for the administration
to have simple answers. But most people I talk to, feel that it's
very complicated, and the U.S. isn't this simple victim that got
sideswiped. It's tragic [for] all the civilians, certainly, but
I'm concerned. I don't buy into everything that's happening.