“Who is the Author of Disaster?
For an answer, read
The Book of Nature or
a woman’s face.”
Disaster shuts down language. Disaster cannot be fathomed. Disaster stops all speech because the suffering it causes is so total and complete….
Does disaster really render language inadequate? What is its relation to the language of poetry in particular? In 1965, cultural critic Theodor Adorno asserted that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Disaster is so often discussed in terms of silence and the inability to speak, but I want to think about how disaster produces speech, writing, and testimony and how disaster is reproduced through language. I’m not talking about disaster as metaphor in poetry but about a poetry that arises in direct response to a disaster, a poetry of disaster.