The Open Wounds of Being: The Poetics of Testimony in the Works of Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

The Open Wounds of Being: The Poetics of Testimony in the Works of Patricia Jabbeh Wesley abstract: The poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley acknowledged in an interview that her primary goal in poetry is to immortalize the suffering of her people. What exactly does she mean by that? What are the implications of remembering suffering, of keeping sorrows alive, especially in narratives? This article explores these questions in light of Primo Levi’s envisaged moral obligation to bear testimony to the victims of the Jewish holocaust, as well as Giorgio Agamben’s thoughts on that episode. I argue that ethics is central to Jabbeh Wesley’s poetics. The poet has a calling: the moral responsibility to bear testimony to the dead and the dispossessed. I will discuss Jabbeh Wesley’s poems as both a tribute to the dead and as an appeal to the living to change their lives. To situate my discussions of Jabbeh Wesley and Levi, I will revisit the ethical implications of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Interdisciplinary Literary Studies Penn State University Press

The Open Wounds of Being: The Poetics of Testimony in the Works of Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, Volume 16 (2)

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University.
ISSN
2161-427X
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Abstract

abstract: The poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley acknowledged in an interview that her primary goal in poetry is to immortalize the suffering of her people. What exactly does she mean by that? What are the implications of remembering suffering, of keeping sorrows alive, especially in narratives? This article explores these questions in light of Primo Levi’s envisaged moral obligation to bear testimony to the victims of the Jewish holocaust, as well as Giorgio Agamben’s thoughts on that episode. I argue that ethics is central to Jabbeh Wesley’s poetics. The poet has a calling: the moral responsibility to bear testimony to the dead and the dispossessed. I will discuss Jabbeh Wesley’s poems as both a tribute to the dead and as an appeal to the living to change their lives. To situate my discussions of Jabbeh Wesley and Levi, I will revisit the ethical implications of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy.

Journal

Interdisciplinary Literary StudiesPenn State University Press

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