In this way, I think that poetry is often at its most powerful as a manifestation of a search for truth or at least an effort towards honesty. It seems natural that progression should move, or strive to move, closer to authentic. Yet then we have a problem of classifying or defining things such as truth and honesty. How do we differentiate definitions between truth and honesty? Can there be honesty without truth?
The idea of defining poetry as something documentary is relevant here as well. If we can define a poem by its certainty of fact, its reliable reporting of actual events, how does that change our understanding of it and our potential connection and response? Does it in this case remain poetry, or has it crossed a line into veridical report. There is the argument that poetry is inherently not evidentiary, it exists completely within the imaginary life rather than a real life. So, perhaps attendance to fact or historical accuracy is not explicitly relevant to poetic honesty, but a certain truth of context is implicitly present.
Below is a draft of a poem that came out of some of these ideas of contextualizing poetry, specifically poetry of a political or social mind, in conjunction with an idea of appropriating different forms of rhetoric and modes of language. I use the word appropriate for lack of a better one, as it is not at all my intention to seize any kind of narrative, I am looking more at what can be learned from the form and rhetoric of media. Coming from of some research into news coverage of the Baltimore Uprising, in conjunction with influences of older texts, archives of redlining in Baltimore, housing ordinances, documentation of antiquated forms of systematized racism that are still very much prevalent and permeating, this is a piece of trying to understand some of these kinds of rhetoric and how they weave through the reality of oppression and place.
and something then that ripened into ghetto,
these human bodies have been strangers
a piece: of mind, of hand, of smaller ill-built structure
churches had the great ambition /it’s an effort to move eastward/
to remedy the fundamental ills /the black tar then on marble steps/
the alley as the lung block, pen in favor of the councilman
these objections notwithstanding
that no/ that no/ that no
no section of the city is exempted, it applies to every house.
how is this for just another of celestial body?
(of a river) have its source
(of a person) provocation
and guard state troops deployed and city limits and injuries to neck
there were sixty structure fires and then some.