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Prologue 3: Conversations on the Arts, Politics and History Between a Russian and an American

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Emily Dickinson: .Tell all the Truth/But tell it slant..
Emily Dickinson: .Tell all the Truth/But tell it slant..
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Emily Dickinson: .Tell all the Truth/But tell it slant.. by Wikipedia

A Dialogue Between the Author and Victor Ivanovich Postnikov

Round One:

Gary Corseri: Hi, Victor. " I hope you're well in Kiev!  I've noticed that it's just about a month since we last collected our thoughts and had the termerity to post them! Are you ready for another go-round?

Victor Postnikov: Yes, now is a good time! So many thoughts I feel impassioned to share before they steal away!

GC: Last time we exchanged a flurry of notes, the news in the macro-world was much about the US-Russian relationship. All the tension then involved whistle-blower Edward Snowden, how the former National Security Agent was holed up at the Moscow airport, seeking asylum and about to "spill the beans" about a lot of things the US considered "Top Secret!" And now, just a month later, this testy US-Russian relationship is once again front and center, but this time it's focused on our mutual entanglements in the cauldron of the Middle East! This collision-course situation has me very much "in a knot," and I wonder what mere poets--or any artists--can do to stop the madness?

VP: Wars happen despite all wailing and protests. No poet has ever deflected a war. But that doesn't mean that poets stay unconcerned. They speak another language. They're different. This poem of Jeffers comes to mind:

"Be Angry at the Sun," by Robinson Jeffers:

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.

Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors,
This republic, Europe, Asia.

Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.

You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante's feet, but even farther from his dirty
Political hatreds.

Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.

From Robinson Jeffers
Robinson Jeffers by Wikipedia

GC: I know that poem well, having read and taught it decades ago... and I've read it many times since. It is one of his great poems. This is Jeffers at his "inhumanist" best, perhaps, turning his back on the "political" frays, wandering among the crags of Big Sur, California. That was one of his "moods" or "modes of expression"; but, at other times, he could be more political, directly critical of Roosevelt or Stalin, for example, mentioning them with scorn in his poems.

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Gary Corseri has published & posted his work at hundreds of venues worldwide, including Op Ed News, The New York Times, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, DissidentVoice, L.A. (and Hollywood--) Progressive. He has been a professor in the US & Japan, has (more...)
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