Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Reading Material: Political Awareness, Social Consciousness and Memory in Susan Tichy's Poetry

This week, as we face an overabundance of stories about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we here at Blog This Rock have a round-up of interesting and engaging pieces about Poetry for you to read! Today, an interview with 2008 Featured Poet Susan Tichy from Cerise Press. Forward widely, and enjoy!

The following is an excerpt. Please click here to read the full interview.

Both Bone Pagoda and Gallowglass contain overlapping themes of war with cross references from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Why (and how) is this overlap in the two books important and meaningful to you? How do you relate this overlapping to your personal memory of similar events?

This is hard to answer without a sense of diminishment — by which I mean the two books, especially Gallowglass, would be my reply — but I’ll do my best.

I had just begun Bone Pagoda when the 9-11 attacks took place, so, though its subject is Vietnam, it was, from the start, overshadowed by the current wars. There’s a long history of writing about current events in the guise of historical subject matter, from “Flowers of the Forest” — an 18th century Scottish Jacobite lament, ostensibly about a 16th century war — to Bruce Beresford’s Breaker Morant — a film dissecting the ethics of guerilla tactics employed by the British during the Boer War, released in the aftermath of American (and Australian) involvement in Vietnam. I wasn’t exactly doing that — my book really is about Vietnam and I had been preparing to write it for some time before September 2001 — but I could hardly avoid the parallel. Later, there was a period when I was finishing Bone Pagoda but had also begun Gallowglass, so of course there were questions of boundary and inclusion. I think the difference between the two books is one of foreground versus background: Bone Pagoda is a book about Vietnam, written in the presence of our current wars. Gallowglass is not quite the opposite, because its other unifying subject is my husband’s death, but it is a book about the present, into which the past is inextricably woven.

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