A year after the Mother Emanuel tragedy, people around the country are still struggling with the loss of nine lives in Charleston on a hot night last June. The tragedy sparked conversations across the country, and the world, as well as countless vigils, fundraisers, and responses here in Charleston. Two Charleston-based poets, Marcus Amaker and South Carolina's Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth, wrote poems in response to the events of June 17, 2015. And now, those pieces, and the conversations that followed, are featured on PBS Newshour in Seeking solace in poetry after a mass shooting.
Wentworth and Amaker, who are not just accomplished poets, but also good friends, wrote both individual poems, as well as a joint poem — which they read at Mayor John Tecklenburg's inauguration this past January — all addressing the tragedy in some way. Amaker's "Black Cloth," which first appeared in the City Paper, and Wentworth's "Holy City," written for the P&C, address issues of both separation and unity.
Almost a year after writing "Black Cloth," we asked Amaker about the power of poetry. He says, "Poetry is another way to tap into our universal voice and our universal connection. My poetic voice is just one of many — a small part of a bigger conversation that is happening across the world. The anniversary of the massacre feels surreal ... I don't think we'll ever look at the world the same way again. We need poetry to help us heal."