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Love this line! 

We write about the dead to make sense

of our losses, to become less haunted,

to turn ghosts into words, to transform

an absence into language.

— Edwidge Danticat
The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story 


Writing about death, it turns out, is difficult. Emotionally, it is easy because grief is both wrenching and cleansing, and feels urgent and necessary. But such writing tends toward maudlin. How to write heartfully but without cliche? How to feel, but with measure? And why write about death, the most personal and moving of all actions, anyway? 

I've been writing about death a lot. No surprise, really, it's been a season of loss and I write with a pall that comes naturally. Sunny is not my default. And yet, writing about sadness helps me to carry the weight, helps me get to sunny. Or something. This is why I write. To make sense, to get through.

Edwidge gets it, do you? 



Reader Comments (2)

A great quote, isn't it, Drew? I'm glad you've come across the book. Danticat is a wonderful writer.

The truth of that quote cannot be minimized. My brother's death in 2009 took me back to poetry (which, ultimately, lead to my book), and now I find I'm writing a lot of poems about my mother, who died in January. I haven't posted most of them. Some concern the awful circumstances of her death; others, our relationship; all of them, a means to understanding how paramount love is in the face of death.

March 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen

Oh Maureen,
I'm so sorry . . . I take comfort in knowing that you know. I suppose at some point we all go through love and loss and grieving — though it always feels so specific and fresh.

With you,

March 11, 2018 | Registered CommenterDrew

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