In the world of The Designated Mourner, the readers and writers of poetry, “the charming little gang who could understand poetry,” are a dying breed. Although ostensibly hunted for their political leanings, these men and women hold within them the intellectual beauty of their culture and, presumably, the empathy of poets. Poetry, in part, becomes an emblem for individuals for whom language, beauty, art, and free thought are valued above their own lives. The play provides snippets of these individuals through the eyes of Jack, Judy, and Howard, even as their poetry, their poets, their understanding is being forgotten.
To read the excerpted interview of Mark Strand by Wallace Shawn in which they discuss reading and writing, and the societal benefits and dangers of poetry, download Dialogues: The Wallace Shawn-André Gregory Project.
* Excerpted from “Interview with Mark Strand” in Essays, by Wallace Shawn (Haymarket Books, 2009). Reprinted with kind permission from Haymarket Books and the author.