The elevator pitch I often give for my forthcoming poetry book Empire of Surrender goes something like this: this book is about war, war crimes, and the literal and metaphorical idea of “softness.” Over the past few years I’ve watched people online grow numb to dehumanization and even actively participate in it, often in the name of righteousness. I’ve researched enough history, witnessed enough on social media, and experienced enough to know cruelty and dehumanization serves only itself and leads to societal atrocities.
It’s self-defeating, in many ways, for a poet to abandon all the platforms they are told to go in order to increase their audience. But I’m finding it harder and harder to align my values in social media spaces that actively encourage dehumanization and the monetization of division.
No book, no matter how hard I’ve worked on it, is worth the price we are all having to pay.