Can Poetry Help Us Create Meaning Out Of Despair?


How can people renew their sense of faith in the future when everything around them seems bleak?

For an answer to that question, poet Richard Blanco turned to the work of Ada Limón, a poet from Sonoma, California.

“I think you’ll see a similar theme in all these poems, which is how to find meaning in seeming oblivion,” Blanco explained.

In “The Conditional,” for example, the narrator considers a series of apocalyptic worst-case scenarios, like the sun becoming a “foul black tire fire,” and yet the poem ends on a hopeful note.

“In some ways, [it’s about] surrendering control … but there’s also this idea that life is full of tremendous tragedies and things we can’t control, and yet we can control our sense of happiness in some ways too — our sense of fulfillment, our gratitude, and serenity,” Blanco said.

This episode of “Village Voice” aired on WGBH Boston Public Radio on December 3, 2018.