Martín Espada’s “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100,” for example, offers a globalist ode to the workers on the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center who perished in the attacks.By focusing on people often unnoticed, sometimes undocumented, and occasionally disparaged, Espada celebrates the diverse gathering of humanity that the American project has enabled, and that the attacks threatened to separate, in the rhetoric of security and the ideology of fear. Praise the cook with a shaven head and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye, a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo, the harbor of pirates centuries ago. Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up, like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.” The commenter known as “Zymos” may just be a poetry-hater, but he also has a point, made more articulately by Theodor Adorno, that “to write lyric poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Adorno reflects on the dangers of art to render traumatic events too easily understandable, too easily commodifiable.
Martín Espada’s “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100,” for example, offers a globalist ode to the workers on the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center who perished in the attacks.
It’s the violence at the perimeters of vision—the filed nails of the daughter, the moon hanging on a cord, the house surrounded by a wall of broken bottles, the gratings on the window, even the rack of lamb.
Army Reserves, Muslim chaplain Choosing Action in the Face of Evil"Tom was a hero on Flight 93.
God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save someone.
With such pressure to avoid doing injustice to the victims, it is no wonder that it has become a commonplace to say that the best poem about 9/11 is one written six decades before: W. Auden’s “September 1st, 1939.” It was certainly among the most circulated poems in the days after the attacks, and among the most discussed, though this poem’s relevance to the events, and its position as the best 9/11 poem, is questionable at best, since Auden wrote it to mark the German invasion of Poland.
Continuing to put forth Auden's poem, regardless of its merits, neglects the vital response of contemporary poets to this tragedy. So between the Scylla of cliché and the Charybdis of exploitation, poetry moves.