Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Countries of Our Skulls, and the Myths We Use to Bury Them

In addition to The Country of My Skull, a brilliant and terrifying exploration of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I've been reading Tiffany Higgins' And Aeneas stares into her helmet (Carolina Wren Press Press (2008), a book-length meditation on the wars of our recent age.  Higgins does a remarkable discipline by staying with the war, measuring the extent of its merging in us, its emergence from us.  Neither expose nor diatribe, Higgins stays with it, dances in time with it, in its time. 

Since the recent imperial wars seem not to require anything more than our silence, such a poetic perserverance is itself an achievement; whatever the gain of having a professional army (and not a volunteer one), we collectively have lost by our greater distance from the brutalities of the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War.  We need to stop burying that brutality.  The truths will out, Wikileaks or no Wikileaks, Assange or no Assange.

Here's a video I featured before, from Higgins, which explores the way the war is both with us and invisible to us.

Here's a post from Split This Rock featuring one of Higgins' poems; Split This Rock is an organization devoted to such poetic tasks.  If you can support them in some way, please do so.

Split This Rock began the 'Poem of the Week' program in October 2009 as a way of publicizing the poets who were to be featured in the 2010 festival. We are now pleased to be continuing Poem of the Week by featuring poems by poets who were registered participants in either (or both!) Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, in 2008 and/or 2010.

This week, we feature Tiffany Higgins and her poem "Aeneas & the pilgrim child set out into the city."
If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit our blog archive.

In peace and poetry,
Split This Rock

Tiffany Higgins
"Aeneas & the pilgrim child set out into the city"

I shall build a city upon a hill
and upon a hill and upon a hill and upon a hill

--------I am a little shepherd piping low
--------through the valleys of Babylon

I shall build a city upon a hill
and it shall be as a light unto-

-------and upon a hill and upon a hill and upon a hill a citadel-
--------the world  aaaaI shall build

through the valleys of Babylon
I lay down and weep

--------I lay down and weep
---------And weep for thee, Babylon

but then I, I recall I-
I am aloft in my omnipotence

and so there is no problem

-Tiffany Higgins
From And Aeneas stares into her helmet (Carolina Wren Press Press 2008). Used by permission.

Tiffany Higgins is the author of And Aeneas Stares into her Helmet, a book of poems which asks where our wars live in us. Evie Shockley selected it as winner of the 2008 Carolina Wren Press Poetry Prize. Critic Michael Parker chose it as his Best Book of Poetry 2009. Tiffany has performed her poems with music by Moisés Nascimento at various venues, including DC's Busboys and Poets. Tiffany is currently cowriting and helping to produce a documentary set in Brazil and the U.S., Duas Américas. Tiffany grew up in Massachusetts and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, teaching English at several community colleges. See video of performances at, where she blogs on environmental topics. Contact the poet to book readings / multimedia performances.

Higgins attended Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock
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