Getting the news from poetry

David González, an excellent reporter on the struggles of ordinary people facing crushing problems and a writer of more than ordinary talent, has a poetic report in today's NYT on one of our great reporting poets, Pedro Pietri, who alas is ill: When Life Is Art, Dying Is Simply Not an Option I've known David since he was a reporter in Philadelphia and contributing to a newsletter I was editing years ago, Hispanic Monitor, then he was in Newsweek (not a good place for a creative spirit), and now has found more space for himself to say what really matters in The New York Times, lately as Caribbean correspondent. I know he feels kinship toward Pedro Pietri, who has always said things that really matter. Somewhere I still have one of Pietri's visiting cards, announcing him as chief reverend of the "Church of the Tomatoes."

The far more conservative NYT columnist, Clyde Haberman, also waxes poetical on the same page, reporting on and quoting from Wall Street lawyer and poet Eugene Schlanger on the proper memorial to the dead of September 11 (New York's September 11, 2001, not Chile's in 1973, which Wall Street lawyers can't be expected to remember). Schlanger's verses show that even Republicans can have human feelings, at least within the patriotic range of issues. Who'd have thought?

William Carlos Williams was right: It is hard to get the news from poetry, but sometimes, that's the best place to find it.

For a very short sample of Pedro Pietri: Telephone Booth Number 905 1/2
For info on the coming Tribute to Pedro Pietri (to raise funds for his treatment), February 12 at Taller Boricua, Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, 1680 Lexington Avenue at 106th Street in Manhattan