Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 and the Gift of Writers

On September 10, 2001, I was delighted to learn that I was pregnant with my second child. The world looked rosy and full of happy possibility.

On the following morning, I walked into my modern literature class to have my students tell me about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (I chose to have neither a television nor at-home internet at that time).

Rosiness quickly gave way to fear and deep, deep sadness, as I listened, ceaselessly, to NPR over the next weeks. I wanted to hear the stories, about people's lives, to try and comprehend and process what had happened, to stand, somehow, symbolically, with those who had died and with those who had lost their loved ones.

I remember when the New Yorker's issue with Art Spiegelman's poignant black-on-black cover came out shortly thereafter, and how eloquently the contributors--journalists, novelists, poets--wrote about the tragedies as well as the humanity of New Yorkers, of passengers, pilots, and crewmembers on airplanes, a humanity that would not be quelled.

And five years later, the double cover that evoked Philippe Pettit, the "man on wire" who walked between the twin towers while they were being completed, reminded us that a daring act (stringing tightrope wires between the towers and then dancing on them) can result in beauty.

Today I am reading the New York Times, having completed this week's New Yorker issue on 9/11. I remain grateful to the writers and artists who so compassionately and skillfully put this sad anniversary into context.


WendyB said...

The New Yorker has done beautiful tributes. MrB was on a panel recently where some fools were questioning whether the tributes were too beautiful. As if art wasn't often inspired by tragedy.

Miss Cavendish said...

And you, WendyB, have written beautiful tributes to September 11 as well, over the years, but especially in the past few days.

aracne said...

Thank you for posting those covers, I hadn't seen them before. I agree, great art sometimes is inspired by pain and grief.

Susan Tiner said...

Those are some beautiful New Yorker covers.

It was hard watching Man on a Wire a few years after 9/11, thinking of the people, the towers themselves, but it's a wonderful film.

I was especially inspired by WendyB's pieces this weekend.