Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

Poetry as Witness

I've discussed before "what poetry does" and one of the things is that poetry can act as witness. The best of these witness poems engage us at an emotional level vs. a didactic level and help us to understand the perspective of the person who is suffering and the reactions of those around him or her. Politically, a single person's expressed suffering tends to move us more than the "millions of people who have starved to death" type of data that is so often vaunted on the news.

Here is an interview, and another news source provides an article and poems from a poet from North Korea whose work tells of the suffering of the people. For the poet writing as Jang Jin Sung, writing is overtly a political act, so much that he must write under a pseudonym in exile after defecting from the North. He swam a river with the poems tucked in a chest/ or next to his chest. The language is unclear on that point in the article. Poetry as courage: strength to persevere, from the heart.

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