“New York Herald v. Daily Dispatch (Richmond, VA)”

In “New York Herald v. Daily Dispatch (Richmond, VA)” Wendy DeGroat weaves together two 1863 newspaper articles about the explosion of a gunboat. Please click here to read.

About the poem and the process of composing it, Wendy writes:

This poem appears in a manuscript centered on Grace Evelyn Arents, a Progressive Era educator and philanthropist who made a lasting impact on Richmond, Virginia. Grace grew up in New York and, as a teenager, resided there during the Civil War. Yet she had family on both sides of the conflict. Her sister’s fiancé served in the Union Navy, while her uncle and two of her brothers fought for the Confederacy. Her brother Frederick was killed in the explosion of the C. S. Gunboat Chattahoochie, the incident described in these news articles. I placed this poem early in the manuscript in a section that provides insights into the tensions swirling around and within Grace as she came of age. Juxtaposing the contrasting depictions of this event in the press helps illustrate the tensions around allegiance that tore the nation apart, tension further amplified by arranging the text in a contrapuntal form. The biggest challenge craft-wise was arranging the words excerpted from the articles in such a way that the poem retained coherence when read in all three directions, with the third tipping the scales: down the lines on the left, down the lines on the right, and across the full lines from left to right and down.


Also by Wendy DeGroat at HERON TREE:  “The Training of the Hand,” which you can read or re-read here.