Friday, June 20, 2008

Princess Diana and the Twin Towers?

The poster/program for the conference "British Poetry 1950-2008 and the Public/Private Divide" (June 27-28, 2008, Université de la Sorbonne Paris-IV, organized by Adrian Grafe and Emily Merriman) shows a photo of Diana surrounded by a white halo-type of border, against a photo of the Twin Towers in flames. Certainly one can think of the private lives and the public media coverage they are given, but the image is perplexing: as exploited as she was by the press, can Diana be intended to represent anything private? Is the demise of the Twin Towers a clear representation of British Poetry?

Perhaps the incongruence of the images was somehow planned to interact with Hill's 2004 "Private Passions" BBC broadcast, where music sung at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 was immediately followed by "The Star Spangled Banner" as performed by Jimi Hendrix in 1969, during the Vietnam War.  Yet, Hill did not mention September 11th in that context, and there is tremendous difference between the events of September 11th and their aftermath.

As an American, it is difficult for me to see images of The Twin Towers used in this way, but maybe that is the point of the poster... Be that as it may, three people are giving papers about Hill's poetry: Carole Birkan-Berz, David Ten Eyck, and Emily Merriman.