Diary: April Bernard, Catastrophe and Poetry

Perversely, I ask you to consider the poetry of Wallace Stevens. A white man of inheritance and marked privilege—the education and attainments of the Ivy League, law school, and employment in a Hartford, Connecticut, insurance business—Stevens could scarcely seem less relevant to this moment. We are convulsed by a cataclysmic, long-overdue reckoning with state violence against black lives (and indigenous, and LGBT, and Latinx, and other “othered” lives) and a criminal justice system that has kept America’s sin of slavery continuously alive in the streets, courts, and prisons; by a pandemic bred from our overpopulation and degradation of the planet; by the stark divide between the forces of authoritarian and democratic governance; by the persistent injustice of men towards the other half of the human race; and, through it all, capitalism’s power to grow ever stronger, while leaving wreckage in its wake.

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