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This is in response to Brian Griffin’s account of the 2008 shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church [“Then and Now,” July 21, 2011].
I know Brian Griffin; I know his writing, both prose and poetry, and it is, to use a term he continually emphasized as a quality we manuscript screeners for the Peter Taylor Prize (which he directed) should look for, stellar. But this familiarity did not prepare me for the impact of this essay. I had to stop midway and do something else. When I resumed reading, I came unglued again. I’m surely not the only one who had this experience. Brian’s essay is a testament to the power of silence as the sincerest expression of unspeakable truth. His inner conflict between the need to express and the inability to express and the honesty to admit that remind me of playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett who distrusted language as a means of communication, whose every work was a struggle between saying and not saying. These are the kinds of writers you want to describe the world’s horrors, because only in this kind of reticence will you get the nearest estimation of its magnitude.
I am so honored to know Brian Griffin and so grateful that he writes for the rest of us, because it is obvious how very, very hard it is for him. Many thanks to Brian, Metro Pulse, and the other writers for this remembrance.