Don’t tell me you don’t like poetry. Not liking poetry is like saying you don’t like beer. There are so many different flavors of each that there is one out there for everybody.
No talk of the American garment industry can avoid the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in NYC in 1911. I’ve read about the tragedy in countless books, but none of them paint the tragedy with more humanity than Robert Pinsky in his poem “Shirt.” I appreciate poetry more when it’s read aloud, so give this a listen. The poem begins at 2:49, but his comments before will be of interest to any engaged consumer.
Here’s a short passage to show you the powerful words within. Drink it up.
At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes–
The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out
Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.