In a 1916 letter, Robert Frost described his vision of a complete poem as "one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words."
It is impossible not to be affected by raw emotion and grief when contemplating the sheer scope of death and destruction in this latest chapter of many years of conflict and contradiction: In the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, Hamas took the lives of 1,200 people and took 240 people hostage. By Nov. 24, some 14,500 people have been reported killed by Israel's retaliations.
Members of Write Action, a community-based, grassroots writers organization with its membership base in southeastern Vermont, have submitted this collection of poems. For a variety of reasons, The Commons usually leaves poetry to other publications and venues, but when Arlene Distler brought this idea forward, we agreed that a special feature in this week's Voices section could bring a fresh approach to helping words, ideas, and universal truths resonate in an increasingly polarized environment. And make no mistake - this environment is polarized. Just before we first wrote these words on Monday, three young people of Palestinian origin were shot in Burlington. Don't think for a moment that it couldn't happen here.
May these words from our region's poets (including Vermont's former poet laureate) speak to a common humanity and serve as a clarion call for us - all of us, from those who are trying to learn and understand what is going on to those who are approaching these issues with deep convictions and moral clarity - to retain and maintain grace, compassion, fairness, and respect. -Jeff Potter, editor
We are experiencing technical difficulties with getting stanza breaks to translate to the website. In the meantime, the poems appear on pages D2 and D3 of this week’s edition in print and as a PDF.