Letter: Silence is no response to slaughter

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am confused about George Szirtes' letter concerning your poems by British poets about Bosnia. He seems to be accusing the poets concerned either of trivialising a serious and terrible situation by reflecting it in their poetry, or even of attempting to draw attention away from the reality of the situation altogether - presumably towards themselves.

If a photographer is at the scene of a tragedy where he cannot actually save lives, he will take the best pictures he can, so that suffering should not go unmarked or unaided. Writing, publishing and reading poetry inspired by Bosnia may not stop the burning - but it cannot fail to increase awareness, concern and, at the least, indignation; out of which should grow the desire for action.

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I'll dig with it.

(Seamus Heaney, 'Digging')