The other day I was speaking with Christina Davis about poetry, and about how my mom–though she likes my poems–wishes I would ‘write happy poems.’ We laughed a bit about it, because I don’t consider my poems sad … though I know what what my mom means when she says that. Today Christina emailed me a few lines from a poem by Roberto Juarroz:
Snow has turned the world into a cemetery.
But the world already was a cemetery
And the snow has only come to announce it.
Christina then wrote: “I think poetry of the kind that you (and I and others) write plays the role of the snow: It’s not that it is sad per se, it’s that the world has sadness in it and poetry cares enough (or is bold enough) to announce it…”
Those lines by Juarroz wrecked me, and reminded me that his book, Vertical Poetry, is one of the hidden gems in my library. Also, Christina’s observation was so perfectly articulated that I wanted to call up my mom and share it.
I still don’t know what “sad” is, really. I don’t consider cemeteries sad, for instance. But I like the idea of announcing the world to itself, and in that act revealing that we already are what we condemn … and by that same token, I suppose, provoke a deeper identification with–or at least empathy for–what we might otherwise consider discordant.