I mistook tragedy / for a verb and ran with it.
From the Spring-Summer v3.n1 issue of Poetry Northwest, “The Political Issue,” we’re featuring Mary Jo Salter’s “Song of the Children.” According to Salter, “‘Song of the Children’ is one of the few poems I’ve written that was ever, in any sense, commissioned. A French friend was helping to put together an international anthology of poems about war, and asked me to try to write one. I saw I had been censoring myself: I had wanted, in some way, to write about the Iraq war, but had held off simply because I had no clue how to do it. The poem—which is partly about not knowing how to speak or write adequately about violence—got written, but the anthology was never published. I was fortunate that Poetry Northwest was interested in my attempt.