It is a worthwhile thing to mark this day (“altogether fitting and proper,” as George Pataki says), but there’s not much new to say. When the newscasters have bleated themselves hoarse saying the same thing over and over, it’s time to listen to the poets. It takes the poets a while to digest the newspaper, but we sure need what they cough up. As William Carlos Williams said
It is difficult to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably everyday
for lack of what is
It was William Carlos Williams who wrote the introduction to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, and it was “with Allen Ginsberg in mind” that Andrei Codrescu began his poem on this evening’s All Things Considered: “Nine-eleven, I can barely remember you, they have buried you in so much hype.” Listen to it. Codrescu is noticeably moved by the end of the reading. It was a helpful tonic in a news-weary world.
Drawing on my own words, I feel much as I did last October when I set down these words in an essay on this site. It was therapeutic to write them then, and it was therapeutic to reread them today. Still, one disturbing thought that came to me soon after the attack haunts me to this day. We will chasten and gird ourselves. We will chastise our offenders when we find them. We will prevail. But the final insight about our changed world may be this: These kinds of things will happen from time to time.