There is no assuaging the pain of loss, but poetry can help. Sometimes it can be the absolute necessity.
Madge McKeithen, also a Queens MFAer, has a new book out - BLUE PENINSULA. She seeks perspective if not always solace through the poems and lyrics of others - reading and reflecting as her son is attacked by an unknown ailment.
I liked what Billy Collins had to say: "A sequence of meditations on poems not by a literary critic but by a mother who is fighting despair over her young son’s bewildering and protracted sickness. Madge McKeithen tries on these poems—ranging from John Clare to Diane Ackerman—like garments to fit the changing shape of her sorrows, and she holds onto each one to keep herself from falling into the well of grief. Here—let there be no doubt-- poetry makes something happen."
Collins was here a couple of years ago as part of the Poetry GSO celebrations - I remember slipping away from work for an early "dinner" so that I could hear him. The Carolina Theater was packed. He led us though considerations of the 911 losses, the presence of angels on a bus, the ordinariness of suffering and survival. We need to hear his words, Madge's words, the cry of the Psalmist and the powerful spoken word performances that are coming out of A&T and the Greensboro community.
Mere words. Yes - mere, wonderful, salutary, saving words.