think that label comes from the Librarian of Congress making an association between some of the work that I do and the subject matter and some of things that Warren took on as well, particularly the Civil War. After all, you always delve into the imagination. And then, when I think of myself on that same trip, looking up from the water, I see it too, in her. That such a complex dynamic of social history, self-fashioning, and ethical consciousness should arise out of looking at an old photograph suggests that Trethewey may be one of our most sage and innovative practitioners of ekphrasis. Im not even going to be in the moment with you, Father, while were fishing because I need to make sure I hold onto this for later on, to make use of in a poem. She earned an MA in poetry from Hollins University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts. Doing the research to write that book I immersed myself in so much of the history going to the archive, reading secondary literature, looking at the photographs, looking at an almanac of the weather in New Orleans for a particular year. Who gets to erect the monuments? Jennifer chang : Youve written that the best repository for the most humane, ethical, and just expressions of feeling are in poetry and that you write because you cannot stand by and say nothing.
The Best American Poetry 2000. Bellocqs Ophelia, bellocqs Ophelia, named a notable book by the American Library Association in 2003, centers on the life of Ophelia, a New Orleans prostitute of the early twentieth century. One of the press releases from the Library of Congress describes you as a poet-historian and youve talked about your obsession with history and how one of the ways you bear witness is through research and finding ways to engage with history outside of what. This is an unwieldy question, I realize, but how would you explain these uses of captivity and captivation? Between what we can see and what is being withheld from us is the place of real excitement for me that is the site of seeing that Im trying to figure out, to try to grapple with, to bring to the surface of our perception. At that moment, you realize exactly how they are perceiving you, how theyre painting your portrait onto that blank canvas. Not until writing Knowledge did I figure it out: theres something about the use of that language, however he meant it, that still rendered me as an object of study. I think to enliven those things one does need to be publicly engaged to see how the history that you can access in the Library still speaks to our contemporary moment, what I can observe in the world. Auden wrote of Yeats in his elegy to that monolithic influence on modern literature, Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry. Just look.