Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: September 11, 2020

For this month, we’ve decided to share and re-examine those works that have broken us open for the sake of remembering. September 11th, in the chaos of 2020, offers something of an anchor: a clear and united grief that we all are invited to share. Please, on this anniversary, spend some time united through the works of Martín Espada, Toni Morrison, Deborah Garrison, Christine Hartzler, and Nikki Moustaki.


Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100

By Martín Espada in Poetry Foundation


Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,   
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.   
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen   
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:   
Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana,
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.   



The Dead of September 11

By Toni Morrison


Some have God’s words; others have songs of comfort

for the bereaved. If I can pluck courage here, I would

like to speak directly to the dead–the September dead.



I Saw You Walking

By Deborah Garrison in The New Yorker


I saw you walking through Newark Penn Station
in your shoes of white ash. At the corner
of my nervous glance your dazed passage
first forced me away, tracing the crescent
berth you’d give a drunk, a lurcher, nuzzling
all comers with ill will and his stench, but
not this one, not today



The Diver

By Christine Hartzler in Michigan Quarterly Review


Seventeen years later, a man steps out
through the lattice of a skyscraper and
folds himself into a breathtaking pike.
An anonymous diver, abandoning his
day job. Maybe you’ve seen the



How To Write a Poem After September 11th

By Nikki Moustaki


First: Don’t use the word souls. Don’t use the word fire.

You can use the word tragic if you end it with a k.

The rules have changed. The word building may precede

The word fall, but only in the context of the buildings falling

Before the fall, the season we didn’t have in Manhattan

Because the weather refused, the air refused . . .




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