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Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror by…

Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror

by Peter Dale Scott

Series: Seculum (1)

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271402,159 (3.33)3

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I don't know about poetry or Indonesia. I don't know much about the dirty deeds departments of governments around the world. But all of these are important enough and this book helped expand my mind a bit in these various dimensions.

Another unexpected dimension was just a bit of Quebec geography. Scott apparently spend a lot of time growing up around Sherbrooke, which is not a place I can even remember having heard of before at all. But now I am thinking it might be grand to try riding my bike there. That is my usual reaction to hearing about a new place. It's a new destination for a bike tour!

Scott was also apparently a member of the elite class. I have rubbed elbows occasionally with this set. Scott's poem gives a good feel for the relationships among these types, where uncles are ambassadors etc.

This is not a long poem or a difficult poem to read, even for someone like myself with quite limited experience in the poetry world. Sure, sometimes I had to try a few times to parse a complex sentence. But I never got the feeling that Scott was trying to dazzle me with his poetic prowess. Why write a poem about terror? Maybe it helps to create a little space, a sort of dreamy haze, where we can see the object in a more subdued way, a way that isn't as nauseating and mind-numbing as a cold confrontation would be. Maybe that bit of space is just the room we need to think how can we behave differently, to think about that without getting overwhelmed by shock and horror which tend to promote a desperate grasping at some other way, any other way. We need to learn to think carefully about these difficult subjects. Maybe Scott is showing us a way that can work.

Yeah we hear repeatedly in this poem from the Iliad and the Gita, classical poetic handling of similarly violent subjects. Here we are again, or really we never left this brutal world, our brutal nature. We probably can't smack ourselves out of it. Maybe we can charm ourselves out of it. ( )
  kukulaj | Feb 22, 2015 |
"From Reznikoff to Public Enemy," Poetry Foundation, November 5, 2007: "When literature scholar Tracy Ware argued that 'Coming to Jakarta is in a way the long poem that [Noam] Chomsky never wrote,' he captured the essentially radical nature of Peter Dale Scott's odd and compelling epic. Yet Chomsky, the linguistic and political anarchist known for his unflappable rationalism, never evokes the subjective terror that Scott summons in this nerve-bundled recounting of the poet's heady encounters with international political intrigue."
Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror (1988) [is] a remarkable book-length poem that fuses autobiography and political analysis unlike anything else in twentieth-century American poetry....
added by davidgn | editPoetry, Joshua Weiner (Sep 1, 2007)
“The ‘Berkeley Mafia’ in Peter Dale Scott’s Coming to Jakarta: A Faculty Investigates Itself,” 2003 Modern Language Association Annual Convention, San Diego, 12/03: “a crystalline example of how a single, vast yet remote disaster can provide the fixed center for obsessive and personal poetry, especially when the causes of the disaster are close to home…..Coming to Jakarta pursues the roots of genocide, how the workings of political manipulation, money, international ruling-class interests and the intelligentsia can trigger immense human destruction. The CIA, Ford Foundation and ‘Berkeley Mafia’ helped establish the means for genocide…because it is poetry, Coming to Jakarta properly investigates how our passions and talents create cultural systems that can victimize us.”
added by davidgn | editModern Language Association Annual Convention, 2003, David Gewanter (Dec 1, 2003)
"The Shifting Sand of a Son's Radical Faith in Peter Dale Scott's Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror". University of Toronto Quarterly - Volume 71 Number 4, Fall 2002, 827-42.
"When Peter Dale Scott's remarkable and unnerving long poem, Coming to Jakarta appeared in 1988, it was recognized as a major work....An attempt to overcome the psychic self-alienation brought on by Scott's discovery of US involvement in the 1965 slaughter of more than half a million Indonesians, this immensely readable "poem about terror" uses a collage method to trace the links between the political machinations of imperial states and the actions of individual conscience."
added by davidgn | editBoston Review, Joshua Weiner (Feb 1, 1995)
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