MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28, 2015: More Poems I Love: Alexie’s “Exaggeration”



[A few years back, I shared a handful of my favorite American poems in a weeklong series. Before I go back to sharing poems for money—well, teaching them as part of my job, but you get the idea—I wanted to highlight another week’s worth of favorite poems and a couple reasons why I love each. Share your favorites in comments, please!]
Today’s favorite poem is Sherman Alexie’s “The Exaggeration of Despair” (1996).
I love “Exaggeration” because it reminds me, eternal optimist that I am, of the darkest histories of our nation, histories far too often visited upon Native Americans like the poem’s speaker and his family and community but ones that reach across all cultural and social spectra of our society. I love it because at the same time it embodies the need to “open the door,” to remember and narrate those histories and stories. And I love it because it does so with rawness and grace, with pain and power, with all that poetry can do and much that only it can.
August Recap this weekend,
Ben
PS. Thoughts on this poem? Other favorites you’d share?

2 comments:

  1. Hi. It's Roland. Haven't posted on your blog for a while. I think I'm doing this right.
    I'm glad your highlighting poetry, now... I get to read it more slowly, to get the most out of it.

    1669: The Exaggeration of Despair/ Sherman Alexie

    I've never read a poem that had a warning message on it as a preface. I'm reminded of the words from a local guitar player/singer I met a couple weeks ago - performing one of his original works - and in it he said: "I'm just a symptom... I'm not the cause."
    I think that explanation fits this poem perfectly - having struggled with suicidal ideation myself more than once... we have to make a clear (if possible) distinction between the symptoms and the root cause... I think the cause is something every human can relate to at some level... while the intense and "exaggerated" symptoms that Sherman Alexie talks about only apply only to a select group of unfortunate souls, like myself.

    Personally, I would have taken the warning out, and not changed anything else... but that's just me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really nice and important thoughts, Roland. I believe the warning is given by the website hosting that poem rather than Alexie himself, and I agree that the poem doesn't need it and in fact demands we confront these emotions on their own terms.

    Thanks,
    Ben

    ReplyDelete