Molly Fisk: A Brief for the Defense

It’ll be a great day when poets and poetry-readers don’t have to argue that poetry has a place in our lives. In the meantime, Molly Fisk models very well how thoughtful people use poetry–and I especially appreciate the way she uses Jack Gilbert’s wonderful poem as an example here.

Vox Populi

The other night I was eating dinner with some friends and the conversation turned, as it does these days, toward the coming apocalypse. There was some talk about Victory Gardens, protesting Monsanto, whether any of us had artesian springs in our back yards, and then someone said: “It’s kind of hard to figure out how to think about all this and still enjoy life. It’s all so depressing.”

“Ah,” I said. “There’s a wonderful poem about that idea, by Jack Gilbert.” Which is how I came to be reading off an iPad at the dinner table, something I’m sure both my grandmothers would deplore, although everyone seemed moved by the poem, and one person even cried.

This little story illustrates two things. First, that poetry is one of the ways complicated ideas can be explored and perhaps explained. Even though the form is also concise, a poem is the opposite…

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