Shoes That Fit My Feet: Poets Confront the Past

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Since the days when humans chanted and recounted their histories in song over campfires, the role of the poet has been to weave both the vast histories of a society and the small joys and sorrows of a single human life into words. In his poem “The Past” Ha Jin wrote: “Like a shroud my past surrounds me/but I will cut it and stitch it,/to make good shoes with it,/shoes that fit my feet.” Surely one of the roles of poetry is to examine our own individual histories and the histories of our nations and cultures and transform them into workable objects that can teach us how to live. A group of poets discusses how their writing grapples with the past, both personal and political.

Moderated by Mary Gannon.