SharingPoets@StPauls - March 2022 Discussion Starter

This month's full discussion starter is featured below; Make sure to send your name and email to Fr. Tom Holahan, CSP at tholahan@paulist.org to be included in the discussion group if you haven't already done so!

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade both to honor the cavalry that unquestioningly followed their orders and also to put on full display the casual tragedies of war. “Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred.” By coincidence, the war Tennyson wrote about was in Crimea, a place we are fully aware of today…because of another blundering war.


Poets have the opportunity – or perhaps the responsibility – to write about the follies and the heroics of war. Only poetry can make a path through the devastation; only poetry can reveal what sparks a brave response.


The French artist known as “JR” permits poetry to work in his conceptual art. The photo above shows how his photo-realist murals comment on the ordinary lives of the people who live in the buildings they adorn. Consider viewing his 2011 TED talk https://www.ted.com/talks/jr_my_wish_use_art_to_turn_the_world_inside_out?language=en


Yesterday, I visited the Morgan Library to see an exhibit of the work of poet Gwendolyn Brooks. She was the first Black author to win a Pulitzer Prize. Her poetry was deeply tied into her community and, for her, this also meant exposing the racism of the day.

The ordinary often leads the poet to comment on what is “not” there or what is really greatness disguised as ordinary. Here is an online version of the show https://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/gwendolyn-brooks

Don’t miss the sampling of her poetry on this page https://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/online/gwendolyn-brooks/poems


Sometimes poetry is criticized because it is “not clear” and sometimes it is complained about because it is incendiary. The fact is that a meandering poem often leads to a big surprise.

So far, March has been filled with highs and lows of all sorts…sounds like a poem!

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