Benjamin Goldberg - Nursery School Epistemology (2)

About the Piece:

This poem was hard to write.  This is strange to admit considering how willing I can be to talk about the events that inspired it.  Even writing about writing about it, though, is proving difficult.  It could be said, in fact, that I wrote the first draft when I was about six years old.  My grandmother had experience helping children work through traumas of various shapes, many of which, in retrospect, make mine seem small.  But she recognized mine, and encouraged me to write a letter to the woman whose wings beat throughout this poem.  A simple pattern of anaphoric I-statements—“I was hurt…,” or “I didn’t like…”—took shape, which even years later must’ve influenced the rhetorical structure of the poem in its current incarnation.  It took me over two decades to acquire the figurative framework to express these events honestly and completely.  Over those years, I’ve discovered just how much I rely on metaphor to process experience, trauma in particular.  This is why I’m disturbed by the argument that there exists some kind of moral obligation when confronting horror in poetry, whether it’s personal or global, to only do so literally, or even objectively.  If I wrote that way, I would have never written this poem.  And I’m glad I did.

About the Author:

Benjamin Goldberg’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2014, TriQuarterlyNinth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Greensboro ReviewSalt Hill, and elsewhere.  He is the recent recipient of an award from The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and was a finalist for the 2014 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest, the 2013 Third Coast Poetry Prize, the 2013 New Millennium Writings Award for Poetry, and the 2012 Gearhart Poetry Prize.  He lives with his wife outside Washington, D.C., and is currently earning his MFA in Poetry at Johns Hopkins University.  Find him online at