Sunday, September 04, 2005

Meditation on New Orleans and the Aftermath of Katrina

A few years ago I visited New Orleans for the annual AWP Conference. Hosted by a young gay couple living near the canal, I saw a great deal of the city that so captivated me; I was ready to move there in a heartbeat. Since then, New Orleans has entered my poems and stimulated me to reimagine my place in that great port. Driving aimlessly through its neighborhoods back in March 2002, I keenly felt the energy of its bold citizenry and the intense drala of the elements converging at the mouth of the Mississippi with a peculiar sense of recognition. Somewhere in my mindstream, New Orleans was once home. That much I am certain of.

The aftermath of Katrina fully discloses the beauty and terror of that city. Ever a charnel ground of life and death played out in full force for centuries, New Orleans will rise again in all its vivid display. Today, its suffering marks a transition in the American psyche where the citizens have truly toppled the doublespeak of politicians, the elements reared their monstrous heads in roiling outrage over environmental destruction and the world stopped a few seconds to contemplate the reality of life and death played out moment by moment.

We will never be the same but New Orleans will remain a timeless place, a rare flower of racial and cultural mingling celebrating the best and worst of humanity as free as the wild parrots who once graced that great city. My heart goes out to you people of New Orleans, brothers and sisters forever...

Jacqueline Gens