Friday, February 26, 2010


To ask if poetry can heal is to ask what art can do.

Last spring, poet Raúl Zurita, translator William Rowe, and neuropsychiatrist Nuri Gené-Cos led us to consider whether a traumatized culture, in the effort to heal its history of violence, must find ways to heal language itself. Their presentations prompted many of us in the audience to turn the scope on the United States, in both recent and distant histories of violence. For a poetics of healing always encompasses the poetics of pathology, violence, pain, shame. The damage perpetrated through language and perpetuated by language. A poetics of healing must entertain the languages and strategies of all forces that seek to prevent a “symposium of the whole” (Robert Duncan).
It explores the possibility and responsibility one may have to treat their culture’s language and images. Daily we are charged with contemplating the suffering of distant, and not-so-distant, others. With what words and images do we do this? Is it inappropriate or colonialist for those in the United States to talk of “healing” at times? Can we still find ourselves in a community with those with whom we “have nothing in common?” (Alphonso Lingis).

This spring, we have invited Lingis to explore some of these questions with us: to explore the relationship between “wounds and words” (The First Person Singular), pain and time, touch and response; how we recognize and address the suffering of the other; how we live and work within community in death.

We have invited artists and disability culture activists Petra Kuppers, Neil Marcus, and Sadie Wilcox, of the performance collaborative The Olimpias, to lead us in exploring the body of community and the rich poiesis each of our embodiment affords. To rethink and create collaborations between and across art, healing, and somatic practice. To work, as Neil Marcus writes, “with this key idea: disability is not a brave struggle or courage in the face of adversity, disability is an art.”

This May, we’ll also hold a special group event showcasing work in progress, with details to follow.

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