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Poetry Reading After Action Report 11/12/09

Between nablopomo, grading, and advising, I've had a very busy week. Unfortunately, I was too busy to write any memorial haiku, not even for poor Soupy Sales.

Instead of my own stuff, I bought a copy of GK Chesterton's Ballad Of A  Suicide. The title suggests a bleak poem, but it isn't. It's about not killing yourself.

Beyond Chesterton's wit and skill, one thing I love about this poem is that it illustrates that "negative" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as bad or pessimistic. That's just the most popular meaning of the word. Consider the following statements:
  • I am going to kill myself
  • I am not going to do drugs anymore
Which one is a positive statement and which is negative? And which denotes a healthier attitude? A negative statement is simply one that asserts something is not the case. The thing itself can be good or bad. And nothing demonstrates that better than a poem about not hanging yourself.

Jonathan, the MC, had told me someone requested I "read" my Marcel Marceau memorial haiku. Being an accommodating fellow, I started of with that. I also apologized to any Soupy Sales fans in the audience for not having a haiku. I then briefly spoke about the whole positive/negative thing (as you may have guessed, it's one of my pet issues.) "And to demonstrate" I added " I will now read a poem that is both negative and uplifting". And I read Chesterton's poem.

I think people enjoyed the poem. One of the baristas asked me for the title and author of the poem again, so I'm guessing she wants to read it for herself. That was somewhat gratifying.  And it is a wonderful poem. If you want to read it, just click the poem's title above.


Good point about the positive/negative meaning. I must admit I was a bit confused when reading a libertarian essay by Jim Peron and he was referring to the rights he was clearly AGAINST, like the proclaimed rights to food and medical care, as "positive" rights.
But I figured it out in the end. :)

Edited at 2009-11-13 07:28 am (UTC)