Poetry of the Pandemic
April is National Poetry Month. I'm not quite sure why April was chosen. Perhaps it is because T.S. Eliot dubbed it the "cruelest month" in what some view as the greatest poem of the twentieth century, The Waste Land.
Whatever the reason, as Poetry Editor of Body Positive, I am enormously gratified that poetry--and poets!--are front and center in this, our April issue. Five good friends of mine, fine poets all, are represented: Walter Holland, S.K. Duff, Steven Cordova, Ron Drummond, and Roger Chauvette. They are joined by others whom I know only through their work: Denis Siri, Richard Anderson, Maggie Hart, and Nelson F. Jewell. Each poet has a singular voice, and each has contributed to defining and articulating the extraordinary emotions that govern the HIV/AIDS experience. As one poet living with HIV for ten years, I thank my peers for their love and their honesty and their truth.
Wouldn't it have been grand to carry poetry into the 21st century and leave HIV behind? AIDS remains with us, alas, but is losing its power to terrorize. Like any bully, it thrives on fear and intimidation. Standing up to it in any and every way we can cuts it down to size. Pharmaceuticals help. Holistic therapies help. Strength of spirit helps. So too do words. And words wielded in poetic form have been emboldening as well as healing. The story of the past twenty years is incomplete without its poetry.
Dennis Rhodes is a poet and writer who lives in Provincetown and who serves as Poetry Editor of Body Positive magazine. He is an organizer of this month's Second Annual Provincetown Poetry Festival.
Back to the April 2000 Issue of Body Positive Magazine.
This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.