The Unhere

  • Anna Veprinska
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism book series (PSATLC)


This Chapter considers empathetic dissonance through secondary witnessing and postmemory. I aim to locate empathetic dissonance through the dissonance that emerges from the removed witness’s location neither quite at the traumatic event nor quite at the particular here in which she/he is situated. This chapter examines Charles Reznikoff’s Holocaust, Lily Brett’s “Leaving You,” Robert Fitterman’s “This Window Makes Me Feel,” Wisława Szymborska’s “Photograph from September 11,” Cynthia Hogue and Rebecca Ross’s When the Water Came, and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. Choosing to witness another’s experience is an empathetic act. Yet these poems turn away from empathy through empathetic disinterest or poet-speaker distance. By examining the unhere, this chapter engages with another major question that poetry after crisis confronts: the role of witnessing in responding to crisis.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Veprinska
    • 1
  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada

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