The following poem embodies and celebrates the unreliability of memory, the unexpected appearance of past impressions, and the slippery, evocative riches of misunderstanding.
The focus of the following poems is the interplay between people, which I think is the only way a person can know what their condition is. Other people are the mirror in which we see ourselves, and the only means by which we can know our own condition, which I do believe is the only condition we can truly know.
The following poems map what isolation does to a human in our epoch of extreme interrelation, blurring the hot mirage of conjured reality with events from a diminished ambit into a sort of emotional impressionism. Loneliness alone, loneliness in company. The clinging to memory. The double consciousness of looking inside and out. Visions swinging between fear and wonder.
The process of aging is frequently coupled with fear — the changing landscape of our bodies, the deterioration of mind, and the unknowability of death can lead to states of acceptance, terror, or rage, depending on the individual. How do our relationships with our family members change as we watch them age in front of our eyes?
These poems explore the destructive power of humans against each other, both en masse and individually, by our own, human-created systems of government. The limits of such destruction seem to know no bounds. Who will try to stop it? Can it be stopped? The poems in this selection explore the extent of human’s institutionalized inhumanity toward man, questions whether such
destruction can be stopped, and demands to know whether justice exists.
These are sections from a longish prose poem titled “House of India,” a meditation on an Indian restaurant, one of its waitresses, and one of its regulars. Regarding the human condition, the writing explores how cultures (and individuals) get dressed up in the fantasies of those they depend on for survival.
How are science, art, and philosophy more alike than different? Where is truth best realized? Amalgamating science, eastern philosophy, poesy, music, and mathematics, the following poem is an attempt to grace the undeniably multifaceted beauty of truth, human psyche, and reality.
“Being a new parent is nice, but not always. Sure, the days are filled with tiny laughs and lots of firsts, but sometimes they’re filled with cries, and sometimes you miss the firsts because you’re off crying in your car. Nothing is always nice, but nothing is awful all the time, either. I hope these poems convey in a real, human way how it is to have an infant.” — Rich Glinnen
The question “Does censorship destroy freedom?” is, of course, impossible to answer yes or no. Certainly censorship can be a tool of tyranny and oppression, as we are seeing in Myanmar and Hong Kong today. But in a society which strives to be “free,” if the censor respects his or her jurisdiction and acts as an instrument reflecting current standards and (perceived) values, then a particular act of censorship can be appropriate and harmless, at least in the long run. The wealthy and powerful tend to enjoy “more free speech” because they have the means to reach a wider audience with a bigger splash, of course.
Academics have written about the “tyranny of iambic pentameter” in English-language poetics, lasting till late in the 19th century. The expression is figurative, though, as there was no actual “tyranny”: only a centuries-old tradition of taste, a vogue, a zeitgeist. Gerard Manley Hopkins (b. 1844) is frequently credited with breaking through and “freeing” the metric line with his technique of “sprung rhythms.” But Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman were writing outside of that tradition as early as the 1830s.
Today, many literary journals refuse to publish, and professors regularly tell their students not to write, rhymed or metric poetry. These practices, too, reflect a current zeitgeist. Still, I have noticed that when editors or poetry professors say “free verse,” they really mean “unrhymed, unmetric, and non-formal.” Verse that is not free to rhyme is not really free verse at all.
Censorship can destroy freedom, but some level of “censorship” (or oversight) can also create an environment that enables freedom to flourish for those who may otherwise be unfairly targeted by false, often hate-filled rhetoric. My piece is a reflection on what happens when we are so focused on restricting any and all forms of censorship that we allow dangerous viewpoints, often controlled by the wealthy, elite, to flood the marketplace.
Throughout history and now with the spread of fake news (actual fake news, not the kind complained of by that formerly powerful person), we can see how widespread suffering can be perpetuated by unchecked speech, i.e., through vaccine and pandemic-related disinformation, etc. We already have limitations on free speech when it comes to incitement, but as my piece points out, we often allow the political elite to get away with using their platform and resources to spread dangerous information that does not necessarily rise to incitement, and this sometimes has dire consequences. Who really knows how many lives could be saved if we didn’t allow elites to make outrageous claims that influenced public opinion? After all, slavery was once grounded in religion, Syrian refugees were likened to terrorists coming to take over countries, and anyone can see the result of massive disinformation surrounding the pandemic. Reflecting on this, it makes one wonder just how many lives could (and should) have been allowed to flourish if we would be willing to do something to combat disinformation — even if that means agreeing to some level of censorship.