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A Brief But Spectacular take on the power of poetry
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Geoff Bennett: Kimiko Hahn, a professor at Queens College, City University of New York, is the author of 10 books of poetry and the winner of numerous awards.
Tonight, she shares her Brief But Spectacular take on the power of poetry.
Kimiko Hahn, Poet: No dust-ups from little girls. As a consequence, one scribbled on the dustbins of history and the other dusted for fingerprints. And the mother? The mother lived in a vacuum.
Inside the senseless corridors, the daughter cannot respire. Inside the vulgar cosmic, the mother cannot be revived in streaming wet traffic. Nowadays, I lie down in the sunlight to see my mama moting around as sympathetic ash. Yes, one morning, whether misty or yellow, I will be soot with her, elegiac and original.
I'm what used to be called the product of a mixed marriage. I was very conscious of my mother's side, the Japanese American side. And my father was an artist, was very interested in the Asian arts. As a consequence, my sister and I grew up with a great deal of Japanese culture, and that very much influenced my art, my poetics.
The poem "A Dusting" is from my collection "Foreign Bodies." I wrote the poem after thinking about what happens to us after we die. I don't believe in an afterlife, but I do believe that, someday, I'll be reunited with my mother in an odd sort of way. I believe my mother is dust, and I will be dust with her.
And so, for the poem, I wanted to think about the different ways we look at dust, whether it's seeding a cloud to make it rain or just seeing dust motes circling above us in the sun.
My name is Kimiko Hahn, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on poetry and dust.
Geoff Bennett: And you can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos online at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.