Saturday, July 26, 2008

A poet and a mass murderer

We tend to think of poets as a cut above the average joe, perhaps a bit more in empathy with our fellow human beings, our surroundings, the environment and cosmic consciousness. How then does one explain poet, professor, doctor and politician Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb leader, who was arrested this past week for war crimes, including genocide in the 1992–1995 Bosnian War. With his crazy gray pompadour, he looks every bit the poet he was, not the mass murderer he became. I have to hand it to him, the guy belted out powerful poetry, just another in a long line of Serbian poets, such as Petar Petrovich Njegosh, Vasko Popa and yes, our own Charles Simic. But something darker lurked inside him, perhaps a lust for power that dismantled his capacity for empathy and ultimately transformed him into a monster. Being part Serbian myself, I am horrified by Karadzic's crimes, and I get disturbed whenever my illusions of the "golden poet" are shattered. Daniel Thompson took bread to the homeless, Karadzic was responsible for the murder of thousands. It is a stark contrast.


michael salinger said...

The comments from the poetry link are in Norwegian - one can get an idea of what they are by using the google translate page.

It makes for some interesting reading.

Anonymous said...

Poets have incredible strong egos: we dare to express ourselves. Egoism at its extreme thinks nothing of other peoples' lives.

Benevolence doesn't necessarily pair with talent. I am most interested in writers who are honest about their flaws.

We all have potential for great evil, and complicity with evil. But there's hope for redemption.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau