HomeHealthA Poem by Erica Funkhouser: 'The Pianist Upstairs'

A Poem by Erica Funkhouser: ‘The Pianist Upstairs’

a drawing in black ink of a bird beneath a staircase, with music symbols above
Miki Lowe

Revealed in The Atlantic in 2005

The poet Erica Funkhouser grew up on a farm in Massachusetts, and it was there—many occasions whereas wandering by way of the woods—that she grew enchanted by language. She cherished the music of phrases, “the form of clang of them collectively and the sound and the playfulness of them,” she later mentioned in an interview. All through her profession, she has continued to explain, joyfully, the pure world, “the place all of the discoveries, wondrous or determined, come with out names.”

In some unspecified time in the future, although, she additionally realized that writing can fail to seize actual brutality. “The dangers are innumerable: sentimentality, over-generalization, over-simplification, distortion, and preaching, to call a couple of,” she wrote in a 2005 essay on warfare poetry. The identical 12 months, she revealed “The Pianist Upstairs,” a poem during which she sounds exhausted, uncertain of the important goodness of language and even of the likelihood that artwork can heal a lot in any respect. Listening to her neighbor play the piano, she’s moved by the best way he expresses emotional fact with out attempting to wrangle it into phrases. However his track, she notes, gained’t change something past the stairway the place she sits.

It’s a bleak notion. And but, as deeply as I really feel her disillusionment, I don’t discover myself satisfied that artwork is meaningless, or that music is “wasted” within the face of struggling. In any case, the pianist upstairs impelled her to put in writing a poem—and almost a decade later, the poem impels me to put in writing this. The world stays a jagged place, crammed with injustice. However that injustice is a minimum of engaged, not ignored, by such cascading layers of listeners and readers. Higher for the echo of Brahms to fill Funkhouser’s hallway than for the hallway to stay silent, and higher for her poem to take the place of an empty web page.

the original magazine page with a piano painted on in black ink, with birds flying out of the top of the piano

You possibly can zoom in on the web page right here.

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