News Poem: ‘A Pathetic Fallacy’


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“I’d been working on the poem for a while, but it came together after the National Academy of Sciences concluded that people more often ignored threats posed by hurricanes with female names. English critic and art historian John Ruskin coined the term “pathetic fallacy” in his book Modern Painters, referring to the way poets of the late 18th and early 19th century had abused natural description by characterizing the world in terms of their own emotions. The meaning of the phrase has changed a little since then, but for Ruskin, it basically meant false emotion projected onto things like uncaring boulders and mournful clouds.” – Danny Penny


The Colorado Independent‘s News-Stained Poetry Project features poems that are about the news, products of the news, responses to the news. “News stained” is meant as a badge of honor, a reference to the long tradition of the poet as witness. As Carolyn Forché wrote, politics can sometimes be seen as a “contaminant to serious literary work,” something to be avoided. But that way of thinking, she said, “gives the political realm too much and too little scope… It renders the personal too important and not important enough.” News developments, whether or not they are reported, shape our personal lives every day. We don’t often think in the moment about how that is happening and what it means. We should think more about it. Poets think about it. And we want to help encourage them to write more about it.

Please send submissions to tips@www.coloradoindependent.comsubject line “poem,” with a short bio and some mention of where and when the poem was written.


[photo ‘hurricane season’ by Boston Bill]

Danny Penny is an essayist, journalist, and poet pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction at Columbia University. Danny is the winner of the 2012 Norton Writer's Prize and the 2013 Lorabel Richardson American Academy of Poets Prize. His work has appeared in The New Inquiry, The Rumpus, Slice Magazine (forthcoming), Nat. Brut, Art Observed, Dilettante Army, The Siren, and The Grinnell Review. You can follow him on twitter @dwpenny


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