So now we're going to talk about a poem that was performed and recorded and then published in a book by Jena Osman. And the poem, what's the poem called, Max? >> Dropping Leaflets. >> What does that phrase signify? >> It's referring to her method of composing the poem. >> Yeah, but in common parlance, what does it refer to? >> It's like propagandizing, politicking or something. Putting- >> Well, yeah, propagandizing. Dropping leaflets. Meaning distributing leaflets which usually say vote for this person or ban the nukes or something like that. Dropping leaflets. Not handing out leaflets, but dropping leaflets. >> Well sure, there's a bit of a play on that. So if you had a stack of leaflets that you're supposed to hand out, instead you just kind of, [SOUND] drop them. >> Drop them. >> So it's almost like refusing to do the [CROSSTALK] >> Here is a trivia question. I'm serious about this. I don't know that anybody will know this. Probably Molly is going to know it. I think you will. There is a phrase in one of our poems in this course that is very much like dropping leaflets. Does anybody know it? You're going to get it, Molly, come on, you can do it. >> Was it? >> Yes! >> Yeah. >> My goodness, such a close writer. >> I remember it was political literature, but I can't remember what it was. >> The phrase is lit drop. >> Lit drop. >> Lit drop, and it's in Albany. It's one of the sentences of Albany. 100 sentences, one of them is lit drop. What does it mean? It was the 60s and he was doing San Francisco politicking. What's a lit drop? >> Well it's kind of the same thing, it's passing out political flyers. >> Right, a lit drop is the thing you did in the afternoon when you volunteer on a Saturday. For political organization, you went from house to house to droplet. Okay, what we're going to do now is we're going to listen to Jena Osman perform, well she's going to give the introduction to the poem. What was the setting? Does anybody remember what the setting was, the context, the historical moment? Allie? >> I'm not sure what, 2001. So it was during the Bush era. >> What happened in 2001? >> 9/11. >> September 11th, yeah. >> So it was kind of the reaction to 9/11. >> Right, the poem was written for an occasion that we created in this room at the Kelly Writers House. The program is called finding the words. And we thought a great way to displace direct political comment on 9/11 was to ask people to respond to the poet Marianne Moore, who's unfortunately not in this course. But whose modernist poems, same era as William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, was full of collage from newspaper's headlines and other source work. So a real collage poet, not as often read these days as she should be. She's terrific. So yeah, so we created this thing called Finding the Words and Jena Osman spoke in this room in response to 9/11. Let me play that and then we'll talk about it. >> The title of this program is called Finding the Words, and I find that everyday when I read the newspaper. I'm looking for words, looking for words that explain everything and instead I keep sensing the presence of what's not being told. We know that the press is being controlled in a variety of ways. And then says the government is pretty much the only source of information that we have. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer warns that Americans should watch what they say, videos of bin Laden just appear because he might be sending coded messages. [INAUDIBLE] Cynthia McKinney pointed out that voices of [INAUDIBLE] are being ignored by the media, and she said help me come up with a strategy to get through this white noise. I don't have that strategy. Except to call attention to components of that white noise. >> So she says she doesn't have a strategy. What strategy does she have in this poem which is a poem that consists of found phrases collaged from newspaper accounts and transcripts of 9/11 governmental language? What's the strategy? I'm asking a hard question first, but I think you can do this. Amarisse? What's the strategy that she does use? Or if you want to dodge that, you can say the strategy that she chooses not to have. >> I think her strategy is her poetic process. So, taking a unit that's supposed to convey one incontrovertible message, the newspaper. And cutting it up and seeing what message can be revealed through seemingly art and arbitrary rearrangement of those pieces, is a way of saying aha, no. I won't accept your message and I'll uncover my own. >> A congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, Max says, help me come up with a strategy to get through this white noise. What does she mean by that? What's the white noise? >> The white noise seems to be the propaganda that's dropping out the- >> Why liken it to white noise? I mean I was listening, I was reading. And I guess I agreed with Osman, but white noise is a really interesting phrase to use for all that stuff that was being said after 9/11. >> Well, there was no real information being given. It was just sort of political phrases in this patriotism and all these sort of buzzwords to keep everybody on the right side. >> Those who supported the need for the buzzwords just to give them credit felt that if we said too much, we would compromise our ability to respond. >> Sure. >> Right? >> And those, like Jena who felt that that had other motives, felt that there was something not being said. So rather than discover as a journalist might, an alternative language of what was not being said. As an investigative journalist might through the Freedom of Information Act or through lots of digging or interviewing. Or trying to get someone who is sworn to secrecy to compromise that swearing. What does she do as an alternative to that? Emily? >> She takes the things that are being said and scrambles them. >> She takes the things that are being said and she scrambles them. So if someone crust crunchy, not crunchy but crusty uncle Joe, would say look, if you want to do some linguistic- >> [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] do your uncle Joe for us. >> [SOUND] >> Okay. >> [LAUGH] >> If you want to please uncle Joe, you have to do some hard work in finding the language, that's finding the words that are not being said, but then she doesn't do that. She's really refusing. What does that refusal amount to, Dave? >> She's calling attention to the white noise, how there was a lot of language being used but nothing was really being said. >> She's calling attention to the white noiseness of the white noise that I myself hadn't even thought of until that night when I sat in this room and I listened to this. I want to kind of make fast work of this because the poem deserves its due. But the poem talk discussion goes into the details of the language. I want to turn finally to another topic though. There is implicit in her introduction, what I would call a psychoanalytic notion of what's being said and then what's underneath, what's not being said. Maybe psychoanalytic is too pointed a word. There is a theory of the unconscious. There's a linguistic unconscious. That what is unsaid is what's meant, and what is said is not meant. Does anyone here around this table want to do anything with that? Is that a fortunate way of thinking about conventional political language? Amarisse, you look like you're about to say something. What do you think the theory of the unconscious is here? >> I mean, it doesn't surprise me too much to encounter the psychoanalytical theory of it. Because so much of our language is metaphorical or euphemistic in nature, it gets you to wonder what we're not directly addressing by using flowerier, indirect means of conveying that same message. So, in that sense, I guess it gets me thinking, what is propaganda? What is the ugly truth that propaganda is covering up? >> Do you have a thought on this, Anna? About this, maybe I'm overreading to describe it as a psychoanalytic notion of what's not said, but certainly there is the implication that underneath what's said is what's meant. >> Well, I guess it's when you have to say something hard. It's much easier to talk around it than it is to get right at it. And I think that's kind of what she's doing here. She's exposing the talking around it. >> Success in circuit lies. So two more quick points, okay? One, look at the end of the poem. We get this language. I said, go to America on alert. Get a softball to school, if you work. It's almost a rhyme. Take your child. Game this afternoon, game, or a soccer, to the president's. Going to the game, the fight, our new baseball game. What is the result of putting all that language together? She's jamming together a couple of things. One is, the President of the United States, in order to get us back to normalcy, suggested that we go shopping and that we go to baseball games. It was September. And I don't know if you remember this, but baseball stopped for two weeks. And we all needed to go to the baseball game. He wasn't really wrong about that, actually, but Jena Osman makes this sound kind of silly that we should go to a game. And then the second thing that's referred to as the fight, what's the result of collaging here? Dave? >> It seems to refer to the game of the obfuscation. The way this- >> The language game. >> Yeah, the way this is communication without communication. >> That's one good point. Another one? >> You kind of get the repetition of the game. You kind of, repeating it in the different ways that's repeated, gets you thinking about all the different things that game can mean. >> The game is the fight, a new game. The new game is the fight, this war. Okay, final point, final point. What's the difference between the political poetry of chapter three, Ruth Lechlitner, abortion clinic poem, and Genevieve Taggard, Interior, the communist poetry? What's the difference between political poetry of that chapter, and this? This is political, what's the difference? This is kind of an easy question, but really worth considering. >> I think the difference is that with the poetry we've already seen, they felt the need. They felt that in order to get their message across, they had to return to more traditional, more tried and true forms of poetry. Whereas, this is at least just as effective if not more by being experimental. >> I don't have that strategy. In a way, she's saying I don't want that strategy. I'm not going to the play the game, as it were, of language, so that it taste great, less filling, you're right, I'm wrong. Sorry, I'm right, you're wrong. It's not a matter of engaging language for language. It's a refusal to engage that kind of language game. So yeah, I think that's one of the major differences. And finally, I'll just say that this poem, succeeds for me in shifting my attention from the newspaper I was reading, and the witnessing of press conferences, and accepting that language. To attending to the way that language masks what's really there.