The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Sunday, September 25, 2005


When it comes to war, America's poets have chosen the tactic of not attending poetry gatherings organized by Laura Bush, which, as we all know, has had an impact on the national economy and put horrible pressure on Bush's poetry-loving supporters. The original tactic that Sam Hammioll cooked up back in 2003, of course, was to hand Laura Bush a compilation of anti-war poems depended on Laura Bush's co-operation. She cancelled the event. From then on, the poets have fought the war the only way they can, by ensuring an Absence of Poets In Laura Bush's Presence. Will it work? Who knows. The highly irritating irritatingness of Sharon Olds's letter -- along with its over-the-top and self-conscious poeticness -- to Laura Bush suggests not:

I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.
What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.
So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.

It's not just the irritatingness of this letter. It's the fact that Sharon Olds printed this letter in The Nation , which is probably the least effective way of getting a message through to Laura Bush this side of shouting it while running at her with a big knife held prominently.