Headline June 02, 2018/ ''' EXTRAVAGANCE OF ETERNAL-GRIEF "'



All those who always live on the very verge, say, "The Poetry of witness" is all about..............

BECOMING HUMAN TO ONE ANOTHER and Sleigh describes his own grief, about his parents, and remembers his mother -

Whose electroshock treatments left her uneasily adrift from the self she'd been before.
And then, and then, Sleigh often lingers over food as the base form of pleasure and culture by which we create and sustain human peace.

In a poem called ''Before Rain'' [which might easily have been called ''After Rain''] Sleigh writes :

Trees grow up where there once were people, weeds -
Take over beds of lettuces and coddled flowers,
Uprearing mole hills unpopulate the fields.

As he observes in the next line, ''the bricked-in-hours of the human have all been knocked down.''

Sleigh is after the enormously fragile ways that even in the face of war or famine people do get on, even while at at any moment survival, that most fragile of luxuries, might just easily end.

As a poet-journalist traveling through war-zones, Sleigh also has distinct precursor in Walt Whitman, who is traveling to Civil Wars hospitals and battlefields filled-

His notebooks with dispatches that would later become the essayistic poems "Drum Taps" as well as the impressionistic essays in ''Specimen Days''.

In his poetry and his prose, Whitman was exploring novel forms of writing in a new democracy - a language of access, of one body watching witnessing another in shared space. Like Whitman, Sleigh here plays with the observer's notebook can come.

He embeds line of poetry in journalistic essays like a rogue reporter; conversely, he'll forge a sonnet of rhymed tercets out of reported language, as he does in poems that incorporate the testimony of Tony Lagouranis -

Who witnessed the torture at Abu Ghraib, Sleigh doffs his hat to Whitman explicitly, noting in one poem that he's practicing with "with Whitman a raw/form of brinkmanship. 

If Sleigh's brinkmanship is about drawing near to lives at the verge, it is also about trying to record the narrative by which lives come to have a meaning, and finding the language in which we come to understand what Sleigh calls ''the soul's vulnerable republic."

Sleigh's cross-pollinating form reminds us that language, too, is always being deployed to some purpose.

In the face of propaganda, political backlash and crisis chatter, which stories allow us to become human to another? Just outside Qana, Sleigh listens to a man named Joseph, who was asked to recover the shattered bodies of small children after the most recent bombings.

At that moment, they see the rubble the ''gleaming, flesh colored, plastic thigh and leg of a baby doll.'' The image is chilling.

Later meditating on this experience, Sleigh mulls the words of Robert Frost, who said that politics is  ''an extravagance about grievances, and poetry an extravagance about about grief.''

In Frost's formulation, the divisions at first seem clean. the politics of grievance face outward, acting publicly, while poetry turns inward to attend to our private landscapes of sorrow.

Yet look more closely and and things become murky. To which realms do Joseph's memories of the shattered bodies of the lost girls and the still-present doll  belong? To what realm do they belong when Sleigh tells us Joseph's story.

Most of us live and breathe between the scales of so-called political and so-called private life; the languages we speak shift depending on circumstances. Late in his essay collection, after Sleigh has recounted his travels, he shifts register.

He describes some sources of his own grief-

About his parents, who felt coerced unto uncomfortable business dealings in the segregated South, and especially his mother, whose electroshock treatments left her uneasily adrift from the self she'd been before.

He described his own illness. How might these things forge a politics, a poetics, an imagination?  Sleigh has made a project of trying to write about other lives under pressure, at the brink.

He's also watching himself watching, wondering how to read the longings and sorrows that urge him, the watcher, on..................

With most respectful dedication to All Great Writers, Poets, Mothers, leaders, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

See Ya all ''register'' on wssciw.blogspot.com -The World Students Society for every subject in the world, and Twitter- !E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Drum Taps '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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