Saturday, May 27, 2006
There Is No Safety in Distance
I am working on a series of poems on the body and the soul. One inspiration is Elaine Scarry's book, The Body in Pain, which has me thinking about the relationship between the body and civilization, the body and barbarities like torture and war. The tentative series title, There Is No Safety in Distance, a line in one of these poems, plays on the notion of safety distance, a term an Operationally Ready National Serviceman like me is all too familiar with. The series is divided into four sections. Some Body focuses on the body of an individual's experience. Any Body explores the felt disjuncture between body and identity. Every Body looks at what our bodies have in common, pain. Finally, No Body meditates on death. I experiment with the ballad stanza to see how its narrative capabilities can be used for conceptual thought; we feel our body in and through time, after all. I also think of the form as hymn stanza, in an attempt to re-direct reverential attention to the mortal body. In this, Scarry's insistence on the body's primacy in our thinking is, for me, exemplary.