Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 was 2001

I recently self-published my 5th poetry chapbook, "9/11 was 2001: a decade of political poems". I'm pretty pleased with it; I think it's better than all but one of my previous attempts.

Many of the poems in it here been published in draft form on this blog. Here's the table of contents:

2003: The Hostage Crisis
2004: Red, White, and Blue
2005: The Salvador Option
2005: As You Know, Katrina
2006: Signals
2006: Pebble
2007: After the Clash
2008: Larval Poets Manifesto
2009: For Obama's Inauguration
2010: The Ones Who
2011: Snow Storm
2014: Global warming activism / the dream

The rest of the poems are probably findable through Google, written in some comment box somewhere. If someone wants a physical copy, or even a PDF, of the whole chapbook, Email me at rpuchalsky followed by 1 followed by gmail dot com, or leave a message in comments below, and I'll try to get you one.

Each of the poems in the chapbook has an individual introduction, which I'm not going to quote here. But here's the introduction for the chapbook as a whole:

These poems were written from 2003 - 2014. It doesn't require close reading to see an obsessive concern with years, numbers, facts. It was a period dominated within the United States of America by myth, first and foremost the removal of the 9/11/2001 attack from history into the realm of timelessness, as the ever-enduring cause for a war everywhere against all enemies – not even against enemies, against terror itself. This all-encompassing war was used to justify a series of quite real wars, the invasion and occupation of Iraq from 2003-2011 being the most destructive in terms of the number of people killed. But there were other myths, too, such as the one that said that the natural world was as it was and that nothing people could do could change it.

My first training was as a scientist. Since then I've worked as a sort of librarian, making Web sites that provide environmental and financial information to the public. It's been tempting to believe that if somehow people could be informed, these myths would be exposed as unreal. Many of these poems struggle with that idea, which has proven as far as I can determine to be false. People want to believe, and when the belief fails, people want to forget.

Many poems are written with an aspiration towards aesthetic timelessness, to the idea that people could be reading them hundreds of years later and find the poem just as affecting as they do now. These poems can not do that. They are highly focussed in time and place, sites of memory. As such, they need context: I've written a brief introduction for each one.

This chapbook is dedicated to Carl Russo, a leader of the Florence Poets Society, and to Jameson Greeley Lavo, who I met through Occupy Northampton. They are missed.