This is entry #77 in our ongoing 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.
Philosopher: Errol Lord, University of Pennsylvania
Artwork: “America (Peaches)”, “America (Flight)”, “America (Superstorm)”, poems from The River Twice (2019) [full text here] by Kathleen Graber. Princeton University Press.
Words: Poets and philosophers both aim at understanding. Their tools and methods are also the same: The construction of complex wholes out of the precise implementation of language. Philosophers often feel superior on the grounds that they provide arguments. It is surprising, then, that the poets are more likely to provide demonstrations. Poetry has an almost mystical power of manifesting the truth.
I have recently been struggling both with America and with the proximity of death―depressingly common struggles. I keep coming back to Kathleen Graber’s series of America poems in her collection The River Twice. Rather than describing their truths, I will let them exemplify themselves.