Today’s guest blogger is Heather Hughes, a Miami-native who has accidentally resided in Boston for her entire adult life. She mostly writes poetry, practices and teaches yoga, and writes ridiculously long resolution lists. Her blogging happens at Still on the Journey of Calling Myself Home.
I’ve been on a news media black out for the past couple of weeks (with the exception of all the news headlines fit to share on my Facebook feed, which fortunately involves a high cute animal content). My brain blew every wobbly gasket dealing with the events and aftermath of the Boston Marathon. I’m still having a hard time processing news coming out of Guatemala or Oklahoma; my heart hurts. The day after we sheltered-in-place, all I wanted was to walk my city’s streets and drown out the noise of tv reporters with just the regular Saturday Back Bay bustle. The noise was a curative; the silence imposed by the quarantined crime zone a stifling counterpoint. I did not want that silence. I wanted the chaos of the Boylston Trader Joe’s, the grinding of dark clad skateboarders taking advantage of the last days of the empty fountain, the Duck Boat tourists quacking at pedestrians. Silence as erasure. Silence as tidal wave.
Flash forward. Over the first weekend of May, I attended the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, including a panel discussion with Eduardo Corral, Sharon Olds, Martha Collins, and Jill McDonough (who are all fabulous – go read their books!) on the subject of taboo. The poems and conversations that were touched on in this brief hour centered largely on questions of race, sex, immigration, and the death penalty. During the Q&A, someone asked about words that the writers may have avoided and why.
My concern with this deep question goes beyond notions of social- or self-censorship or the value in giving voice to what is taboo in a particular culture. Continue reading