Peter Moysaenko: Adrienne Rich—hearkening perhaps the spirit of late ’60s feminist thought—has intimated that poetry, by virtue of being “root-tangled in the grit of human arrangements and relationships,” figures as a necessarily political medium. But is such a claim only a willful conflation of connotation: to what degree may a poem be expected to persuade public policy, to effectively address the demands of a massed citizenry, to significantly alter systems of government and economy; and anyway, should such achievements remain as any of its concern?
Yael Shinar: To me, it is obvious that poetry is political. I am a student of Adrienne Rich’s work.
When I read, I am open and willing to be transformed; when I am transformed, my political life is transformed, including my intimate relationships and my voting in elections.
Who or what transforms me? I don’t know. Transformation occurs as an interaction among several parts. Adrienne Rich helped me to see that.
I met Adrienne Rich, briefly, in 2002. I said, “Thank you for your work. Your writing changed my life.”
She said, “No. You changed your life—you opened a book.”
for children in Gaza, 2006
by Yael Shinar
at a time,
from their tending parts.
a child was wiping his asshole,
when he heard a sound he hadn’t heard before
to lick the wound of his right shoulder
(like he licks the juice off roasted lamb,
shredded by his mother with a knife,
while he waits
with spongy bread).
so full now, though,
with a smell he’s never smelled before,
and he’s not sure his arm’s
the only thing gone.
between his bladder and his belly
button may have torn away, as well.
His abdomen feels open,
like a monk’s cave
in the desert;
his insides swirling out,
filling God’s great nose.
Then he screams.
It is a word
he has heard before,
but he never knew before
it was a word.
Yael Shinar was born in California and now lives near Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is working towards a degree of Master of Divinity at Harvard University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Mid-American Review, The Drunken Boat, Slush Pile, Beloit Poetry Journal, Meridian, Third Coast, and other publications.
For more on R.D. Gliubizzi, visit the artist’s page at Pierogi Flat Files.