Eloquent and provocative. Thank you. Provocative because it dares me to differ with you on the role of poetry. You are not categorical, of course. You have given at least two layers of qualification yourself when you say

"Poetry, any art, has the ability to offer a view on decimation that doesn’t itself destroy. And I sense this might be at least in part because it expresses an idea of the good. It takes a side."

A traderly optimism, but with a little fatalism at the edges?.

Poetry has an ability to deal with violence without doing violence (if I may paraphrase?), yes. But also an ability not to. War poetry was not always about peace. We need only go back to Kipling or Tennyson. And though we have a progressive, pacifist tradition right now in Canada, there are no guarantees. "No genocide without poetry" as Zizek says, and as D.C. Scott illustrates.

"At least in part because it expresses an idea of the good," yes. In part. And which good? Nationhood? Which nation.

Despite my quibbling, I still have to agree at the last qualification -- taking sides. That's an option we must take or fade into irrelevance, as individual poets and responsible citizens. However dangerous it may be to do so.

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