Unending Dialogue: Voices from an AIDS Poetry Workshop

Hadas, R., ed.

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Anthology (Poems)

Annotated by:
Stanford, Ann Folwell
  • Date of entry: Aug-14-2001


This is a collection of poems by members of an AIDS workshop run for Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York by poet Rachel Hadas. The poetry is framed by an introductory essay by Hadas, "The Lights Must Never Go Out," and a long concluding chapter that includes Hadas’s reflections on the poetry collection, her own experiences with illness, and many of her own poems.


Not only is this a powerful collection of voices and poetry, but in "The Lights Must Never Go Out," Hadas provides a rich narrative of the workshop’s process and its participants, as well as the poetry that grew out of that process. Hadas weaves into her discussion other voices such as William Shakespeare, Tennyson, Theodore Roethke, Stevens, Primo Levi, Dante, and Milosz. "AIDS and the Art of Living" consists of 57 poems and prose poems from workshop participants and is introduced by Hadas.

Hadas’s influence is evident; the poems are polished and rely on numerous forms--sonnets and ghazals show up frequently, treating a variety of subjects (the ghazal is a lyric form that originated in Persia in the 11th-12th century. The rhyme scheme is aa, ba, ca, etc. and the poems are generally short. The subjects are usually earthly or mystical love, often expressing sadness over the loss of a beloved). In the long final essay and collection of Hadas’s poetry, "Out of Your Nakedness, Out of My Nakedness," Hadas reflects on her own proximity to illness and mortality and the dialogues that emerged out of the experience (teacher/student; language/silence; poets/poets; life/death).


Faber & Faber

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Rachel Hadas

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