Today has run the gamut between really great and really, really terrible - maybe not in that order. I began the day in a heap on the floor. Honestly. After my children left for school I decided to read my cousin Amanda’s blog post about 9/11 which was both wonderful and thoughtful and so very, very hard for me to remember through her writing. It’s pretty much the same every year – I brace for this day to come and then I relive September 11, 2001 in brief segments throughout the day all the while trying to avoid any TV news. I generally hate this day, and twice now in the past several years I’ve had Writing Project events held on September 11th. My Writing Project friends have become like a second family to me, so tonight I was really looking forward to being with them.
Because tonight was a “guest night” for people interested in going through next summer’s summer institute, my friend Melanie presented her inquiry workshop so that people could get a little taste of what we do in the SI. One of the activities she had us do was something called “blackout poetry”. We were to take a piece of writing and black out (or use a marker to cover) words we didn’t need – making a poem, of sorts. The original piece of writing we used was this Nobel Prize lecture by Elie Wiesel. I came up with a piece that I really liked – here it is:
humanity dominated the universe.
the very laws of nature had evolved.
bear witness to dignity,
listen, believe, and comprehend.
the strength to rebuild is possible.
We all shared our “poems” and we talked a bit about the words we chose. While we were sharing, my friend Scot took my paper, crossed out the original title “Hope, Despair and Memory” and simply wrote, “9/11”. He handed it back to me and it nearly took my breath away. I wasn’t prepared for it, I guess. He whispered to me, “well, this has obviously been on your mind and I figured you were writing about it.”
I wasn’t. But I kind of love that someone thought these lovely words would come from my angry heart. I mostly thought that Wiesel’s writing was so awful…such a terrible comment on humanity that I had to change or at least make it more positive. I suppose it’s also a comment on today as well. I hadn’t thought about it like that, but I’m glad someone else did.