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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 11, 2013/ 29 Teves, 5773

Poetry on the Potomac

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A poet laureate comes to Washington. Yawn. In the world capital of the sound and fury that often signifies not very much, the disciplined sentiments of a poet sound as alien as a tax cut for millionaires. We live in a city of argument, one-upsmanship, and winners and losers playing a power game where rhetoric rules without eloquence.

Pragmatism trumps poetry every time. We have no majesty, none of the grace notes of language and no call for a poet to memorialize events, celebratory or tragic.

But wait. Natasha Trethewey, the newest poet laureate, wants to change that. By moving to Washington this month from Atlanta, where she has been an English professor at Emory University, she hopes to start a conversation about poetry and how it enriches the lives even of the political class.

"Poetry is more diplomatic than we ever are in our everyday lives," she told an interviewer when she was first appointed. "It's the most humane repository of our feelings and thoughts, our most humane and dignified thoughts."

Well, we could use a little dignity and a little empathy. Almost everybody in Washington is angry, selfish and cursed with an ego the size of a Buick. The old Congress is out. The new one has already been here a week, and it hasn't changed a thing.

Shelley described poets as "unacknowledged legislators of the world," but our legislators, acknowledged or otherwise, are no poets. Nor does the president lead. Barack Obama nominates Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense in the "bipartisan tradition," although he's widely regarded by Republicans as a renegade. But that'll show us.

Can poetry help us with healing, or is that hopelessly naive? Trethewey knows a little about what it takes to get over a horrific wound. Her stepfather shot and killed her mother when she was 19 years old. She was born in Gulfport, Miss., of mixed-race parents. Her father was white, and her mother was black. They divorced when she was 6, and when she walked down the street with her mother in Atlanta, strangers thought she was with her maid. She grapples with the "oppositions" in her life.

Our leaders and politicians ought to learn to deal with the oppositions in their lives, too. But the battles in Washington look too ominous for poetic expression without a poet like T.S. Eliot and his hollow men.

"The truth of poetry is not the truth of history," said Philip Levine, our last poet laureate. Wordsworth thought poetry springs from "emotion recollected in tranquility," and there's little reflection and absolutely no tranquility in the nation's capital. A little attention to language could help.

In an essay on why poetry matters, former poet laureate Dana Goia wrote in the Atlantic magazine how the art of using words makes a difference: "A society whose intellectual leaders lose the skill to shape, appreciate and understand the power of language will become the slaves of those who retain it — be they politicians, preachers, copywriters or newscasters." It was said of Winston Churchill, the rare politician who mastered words, that he marshaled the English language and sent it to war.

We suffer from the shorthand of the inarticulate, whether twittering or texting. Technology shapes bad habits. Debating styles on television, on the Internet and in Congress suffer, as well. There's too much preaching (and preening) to ideological choirs, and the singing is nearly always off key. Anyone listening to the rhetoric of the late campaign or trying now to understand the "fiscal cliff" knows how clean, honest language working toward clarity was sacrificed to bluster and bombast.

Perhaps the most underrated of those speaking up during the past weeks was John Boehner, who had an impossible task of keeping feuding children from tearing apart any agreement.

Although it's hard to find fluency of expression on Capitol Hill, the speaker of the house managed to give a moving speech after he was re-elected with 12 Republicans defecting. As a leader who looks uncomfortable in the spotlight and whose eyes customarily tear up (Churchill called his own frequent tears "the blub" and never apologized for them), he showed uncommon composure when he addressed his majority with forceful prose that combined responsibility with admonition in parallel sentences. Not easy to do in a brawling atmosphere of self-righteous pugilism.

"So if you have come here to see your name in lights to pass off political victory as accomplishment, you have come to the wrong place," he said. "If you have come here humbled by the opportunity to serve; if you have come here to be the determined voice of the people; if you have come here to carry the standard of leadership demanded not just by our constituents but by the times, then you have come to the right place."

He may or may not be right about coming to the right place, but he was clear in stating what's ahead for them. To paraphrase another famous poet laureate, there are promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

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