Monday, January 24, 2011

The Purpose of Poetry about Crime

I was shaken to learn Tucson gunman Jared Loughner wrote poetry. I wondered, Do newcomers to The Lineup think it's an outlet for deranged minds like Loughner, Koresh, Manson?

Then the moment of doubt passed, and I remembered poetry's true purpose is communication. Writing for oneself is not communication, but gratification. Poetry must do more than satisfy or justify the poet. It must reach out to others; the poet must first respect others. By their actions, the worst humans prove they do not respect others.

We prefer to deny the ways we impinge on each other—all the more reason they need to be confronted. This is not to say anything is resolved. Poetry about crime is not fiction about crime. Poetry's success is not in resolution, but in making one person realize he is not alone.

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