a blog about “a poem for dzhokhar”

aie aie aie. so many interesting things to talk about….where do we start?

if you are a new reader to my blog, hello. if you want to see what i actually do (i’m mostly a musician, not just a random free-verse blogger), here’s a song i just released and the video that goes with it. it’s called “the bed song“.

two days ago i posted a poem.

as of posting this, there are 1,947 comments on a poem that took me – no exaggeration – about 9 minutes to write. many of the comments have been confused, many of them understanding, many of them angry.

this is the best thing that art can do – any art, good art, bad art, 9-minute art and 9-year art….reveal things.

the last thing i wrote was the title, because that’s usually the last thing i write.
i could have titled “a poem for dzhokhar” a million things. i could have called it “the past 48 hours”. or “everything in my brain right now”.
i didn’t. a lot of the poem got misinterpreted.

it is always very interesting when people misinterpret art, and then get angry about it.

it tells you a lot about how people work, how they think things should work.
it tells you what they hold dear, and what they are afraid of.
it can be a very good litmus test for which way the wind is blowing.

right now, in the wake of the unspeakable things that just happened here in boston, a lot of people are very angry, and confused….and afraid.
including me. which is why i wrote. i’d already posted several blogs (here and here).

as many people in the comments have pointed out: art is how i deal.
i take the things around me, and i put them in a blender in my mind, and i connect the dots, and i layer, and….i write.
sometimes songs, sometimes poems, sometimes emails.

if my phone had rang at 11:34 and i had spent between 11:34 and 11:43 talking to a friend instead of writing this poem….?
i never would have written anything. i would have taken the call. i had to be somewhere at noon. i had to leave.

i’d had a very strange 48 hours. a lot of people had.

the two days had included everything that went into the poem:

-watching the bombing happen right in my old neighborhood three miles away from where i was sitting, and spending the next six hours online, connecting the dots with my community, and sharing stories, and being worried together, and getting texts left and right and putting my whole life on hold to feel the gravity of what was happening. we all did.

-seeing horrific images and taking in the stories about what happened to the people who were injured and killed.

-feeling the shift of the city and, a few days later, waking up in my new neighborhood and being told by the police not to leave my house, that our neighborhood was under lockdown, and looking out my window, wondering if there was someone hiding in the bushes trying to kill us.

-finding out our morning train to new york was canceled and deciding to leave anyway, with my husband neil. and feeling scared and shaken, and driving a car four hours to new york with the news on, listening, and crying, and worrying, and getting familiar with a boy named dzhokhar and his brother, and hearing the stories pouring out of his friends from high school, and hearing the anger and confusion and worry in his uncle’s voice.

-getting to new york and looking for a place to live. and failing, but not just because we couldn’t find a physical place.
because something else might prevent us from moving there. and things getting complicated. and watching the plans of our life fall apart, and feeling guilty and talking to everyone in new york about what was happening in boston.

-picking my fingers. and getting more anxious.

-going to yoga, and feeling my legs (see the OTHER blog).

-getting reports and frightening photo-texts from boston via my friends, stuck inside their homes, as police and FBI with guns flooded into their quiet little suburban streets.

-doing an event in new york, leaving the event, and immediately reading the story about the boat, and the shoot-out.

-getting back from new york the next night, and going to party at harvard with neil.
-talking with a writer friend, and hearing her stories about the pros and cons of being a mother.
-watching neil dancing, which he never does, and feeling my heart open unarmed in his direction.
-watching my phone battery die.
-watching my business plans die.
-watching my husband fret deadlines and worrying if the next months are going to be harder than we thought.
-watching the news.
-watching how it’s all connected, always. (because it is. we are. we always are.)

right up to the last two minutes of my life before writing the poem:

-ordering two vietnamese soft rolls (or was it three?…for me and neil who was trying to get some writing done in the other corner of the bookstore cafe), getting a coffee with milk, and sitting in the exact same chair in the exact same cafe where i had been sitting a few days earlier when someone tweeted me that a bomb had just gone off in my city, right across the bridge. and looking at the file name of the document of the girl sitting next to me.


many people – even the people who loved the poem – thought this poem was directed “at dzhokhoar”.
as in: you, you, you.

read it again.


the first few hours of comments came in and the poem had resonated with my readers.
there was a nice discussion and a lot of nodding heads about the confusion we shared.

then it was found and shared by people far outside my community, who had never heard of me, my music or my blog, and a giant shit-storm started.

people started tweeting that “my legs should be blown off”.


then a remarkable thing happened.

the people who hated the poem started writing THEIR OWN POEMS, sometimes in sloppy haiku form, sometimes in limerick form, sometimes copying the stream-of-consciousness format of the poem i had posted.

meanwhile a lot of other people were yelling that IT WASN’T EVEN A POEM, BECAUSE IT DIDN’T RHYME.

and another lot of people explained that poems don’t have to rhyme to be poems.

there were hundreds of comments back and forth and back and forth….arguing about what makes a poem, and about what poetry is and isn’t allowed to be and do, and it got very heated.

and my supporters starting linking me to poems they had written about the event, and i shared them on twitter.

and then: someone told me it was national poetry month.

and i thought: this is amazing. when was the last time a thousand people argued about a stupid poem?

or shared so many poems about something bad that had happened?

not any time recently, that i can remember.


i am definitely going to resist the urge to publish a book entitled “a slim volume of anti-amanda-palmer verse written during national poetry month”.

but seriously…it’s tempting. some of the hate poems were REALLY GOOD.


every time something terrible has happened in america, in the past dozen or so years, i’ve felt a shift towards fear.

fear happens.
and when you feel the fear, you have many choices.

you can take the fear and turn it into hatred, anger and negativity (WHO CAN I BLAME RIGHT NOW? HOW CAN I HURT THEM? WHERE CAN I HIDE? and WHO CAN I HIDE WITH?)
you can take the fear, unravel it, and try to turn it into deeper questions (WHY DID THIS HAPPEN? HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND? and WHERE ARE WE FAILING EACH OTHER?)

sometimes i worry that more and more people are asking the first set of questions, and less people are asking the second.
and i worry that even if people are asking THEMSELVES the second set of questions, they’re afraid to ask them out loud.


i get messages from all sorts of people through facebook and my website and through regular email.

the thing that scared me most (and i’ve seen and read a lot of scary things) in the last few days was this:

a handful of people wrote me private messages and long letters telling me how much they’d liked the poem, and how sorry they were that this shitstorm was happening, and how they, too, had felt some empathy and sadness for the 19-year-old boy….whatever his story or whatever the real verdict. they were also scared by the media portrayal of “people” as “monsters” and the dark cries from the community for blood and vengeance.

a lot of people posted similar sentiments to the blog, in public.
but these people told me that they felt to scared to post these feelings in public for fear of looking un-american, of looking “sympathetic” towards the bombers.

(note: “sympathy” is defined as “feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.” and “empathy” is defined as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings”. know the difference. it’s subtle…but important.)

so….people are afraid to say, in public, that they feel empathy?

this scared me so much.

think about what it means for us, and what it means for our culture and our world if people are too afraid to speak up about how they feel, if people are too afraid to share their reflections, if people take one step backwards and think…”better not rock the boat”.

and think about what we’ve learned from that phenomenon in the past, and what can happen when too many people think that way.

and…be careful.

was the act of these bombings terrible, unspeakable, horrific? yes.
should the person or people who committed them be brought to justice and should we try to prevent them from ever, ever committing such acts again? yes.

so to all of you reading this blog, including those who are new here, with whatever agenda you may have:

may you be safe from harm and danger.
may you feel at peace in these weird and scary times.

and may you find a way to feel empathy towards everyone.


yes, everyone.

the moment you choose to be empathetic only towards your family, only towards your friends, only towards your immediate neighbors, only the people who look like you, or think like you…
that is the moment you fail to see that we are all connected, that we are all capable of feeling pain and all – every one of us – capable of empathy.

for anyone.


when the “oasis” controversy happened a few years ago and people were angry at me for writing the song, i wrote about how you have to stop the darkness taking over.

and here, now, i think we need an even more general rule about the current state of affairs:

when you cannot make art about the chaos, that’s when the chaos takes over.


happy national poetry month.


p.s. some people tried to make a kerfuffle out of the fact that i have a donate button on my blog. it is a built in feature of the site that i designed after the TED talk. it lives down there.
and i am happy to report that hundreds of blog readers here have clicked through to the ONE foundation that we also linked at the end of the blog. here is that link again, please use it:

Click HERE to donate & find additional about The One Fund Boston…
…Setup to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15th 2013.

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  • Evelyn Stice

    Though I believe firmly that we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions, I think that without some degree of empathy and understanding, there is literally no hope of preventing similar actions. How can we begin to prevent them if we don’t understand why they happened? I mean, yes, art. But also it’s imminently practical.

  • hanachronism

    I don’t think you can “misinterpret” art, can you?

    • robin stevenson

      one can interpret it in a way that the artist did not intend

      • Liam

        Exactly. And one of the skills involved in artistry is the communication of meaning through your work. If an artist’s work is generally (“mis”)interpreted a certain way, the artist is at fault. That all said, I don’t think that the poem’s ambiguity means it’s crap. I think the message is one that’s extremely difficult to communicate without coming across in a way you didn’t intend.

        • Alex_L_H

          “I don’t understand what you’re saying, so it’s YOUR fault” ?

          • Liam

            Pretty much, although it’s a little more nuanced than that. Language is a skill we learn through experience. We use to elicit specific responses from people and to communicate understanding to them. Whenever we do this we hone our use of the language and the specific words, phrases, structures and so on that go with it to get people to understand us through the responses they give. When the outcome we did not want comes from the language we use, we modify and rephrase the next time.

            There can be individual situations in which a person is atypical in their responses to your words and their lack of understanding can be attributed to that, rather than what was said (as you subtly hint at in your parody of my comment). However, when you are speaking to a large group (like in a poem on a public blog) and a large portion of people do not understand you, you are the one who is at fault for what you said and not communicating your meaning in a more precise manner that would have elicited the understanding of your words that you wanted.

            For example, at an extremely basic level if I ask someone for “salt” and they hand me a ground black spice cultivated from a plant, it’ll be their fault, as “salt” commonly means ground sodium chloride. However, if everyone I ask gives me that same ground black spice when I ask for “salt” and ground sodium chloride when I ask for “pepper” and I refuse to learn which one means which to everyone else, I am the one who is at fault, because that’s simply how communication works.

            Don’t get me wrong. I love AFP and I’m not (yet) of the opinion of either side of this mini shit storm. But I do believe that saying your work is “misinterpreted” when a lot of people take it a certain way is externalising the locus of control and something that artist’s should avoid.

          • Dennis Roberts

            Thank you. Your thoughts mirror my own so well you’ve saved me a good deal of time posting them myself. When I first read the poem It felt like I was watching Amanda walk into the street without looking out for traffic. The title “a poem for dzhokhar” sets the reader up for what comes next. I too had sympathy for this 19 year old who was so praised by everyone that knew him, but for me the poem was missing the larger part of the tragedy. People ‘fill in the blanks’ when things are left unsaid. Ultimately a poem with this title, that deals with the banal thoughts that it did, seems shallow. By posting this poem Amanda stepped out in front of a speeding bus. Unfortunately her response has been, “the bus just didn’t get it”.

        • LH

          I think this is absolutely it. If I paint a picture of a horse, and it happens to look, from a certain angle in a certain light, more like a donkey, and everybody bases their criticism of the picture on the merits or otherwise of donkeys, then I don’t get to claim that they’re all wrong because it’s clearly a horse. It’s my miscommunication at work, and the best thing to do at that point would be not to go on the defensive.

          But. Criticism of the execution of the piece is not the same thing as criticism of the message of the piece. So saying ‘Hey, Amanda, I think you could have titled this better, and when you put art out into the world, especially on a subject like this at a time like this, it is important to think carefully about things like titles’, and ‘Hey, Amanda, I can’t believe you’d dare show any empathy for Dzhokhar, you deserve your legs blowing off’, are two completely different things.

          • Liam

            Well put. I think that’s why I wasn’t sure where I stood. I think that nuanced way of looking at things is where I stand too. It’s a pity this kind of thing tends to get so polarised.

          • luci_fer

            I don’t actually agree. If you paint a picture of a horse, and it happens to look from a certain angle in a certain light, more like a donkey, and I think “hey, cool donkey” I’ve as much right to see a donkey as you have a horse. Even though you painted it.

            That donkey is mine now.

            And sure, it could be – that paintings crap it’s meant to be a horse. (especially if you were aiming for some kind of photorealism there!)

            Or it could be like Schrödinger’s amazing horse-donkey.

            Most of my rhetoric is based on literature than visual arts though (or comics where they combine!) but as far as subjective appreciation goes, I reckon it’s the same principle though.

            (not that I’m extended that particular horse-donkey example to the specific Amanda Palmer poem, just on the general point of appreciating art and communicating a message – basically, it might not be an even exchange but I don’t think it’s an entirely a one way creative process either)

      • A Name.

        Most artists agree that the way the artist intended isnt the only factor in experiencing art.

        • robin stevenson

          oh indeed, and sometimes the viewer might see much more in a piece of art than the artist ever did! but misinterpretation is where someone simply fails to see at all the point the artist was trying to make

          • Claudius Clüver

            I think misinterpretation is when your interpretation requires to ignore or change large parts of the art in question.

      • Megan

        If art is considered subjective by nature, then there isn’t a way to really misinterpret’ it. An artist creates – other people see it/read it/etc. Art is thus subjective because each individual sees it through his/her unique perspective.

      • val

        it takes two to tango. Both can be wrong or right.

        I feel conflicted about art criticism. I’m always surprised to see people criticizing art so vividly, forgetting about any kind of subjectivity and shade of meaning.There’s no good and no bad In art rules are meant to be broken

        Yesterday Amanda posted a beautiful passage of Letters to a young poet by rainer maria rilke : “Nothing touches a work of art so little as words of criticism….” You can read the whole passage here :

    • Aleta Joellen

      You can absolutely misinterpret art.

      • Brandy Lynn

        Actually, miscommunication is an ESSENTIAL tool in poetry. In real life, we don’t always say what we mean. We have little Freudian slips of tongue, double and triple meanings to things. The title of the poem is “for dzhokar”–because it is both for him, as in having empathy for a murderer, who did not just stop being human the moment he committed murder, but it is also a cry for him to HAVE empathy–for everyone, everywhere, so shit like this stops happening.

        • luci_fer

          “The title of the poem is “for dzhokar”–because it is both for him, as in having empathy for a murderer, who did not just stop being human the moment he committed murder, but it is also a cry for him to HAVE empathy–for everyone, everywhere, so shit like this stops happening.”

          I’m not going to say your interpretation is correct or incorrect as I’m getting a little tired of seeing that. So I’ll simply say I liked your interpretation. It’s nice.

    • Esmertina Bicklesnit

      You can mischaracterize the intentions, motivations and mindframe of the artist. “She wrote this to get attention,” “How dare she speak for the terrorist” and “because she wrote this, she obviously does not empathize with Martin Richard” are examples. Those are not just some people’s interpretation of the poem

  • robin stevenson

    Love you all… be good and share art and lets poop art & love back and forth forever ))><((
    hate is the realm of ignorance and fear

  • Luke Southworth

    Geez. People go fuckin’ crazy trying to interpret poetry. You’d think it was pretty obvious that you can have a semblance of empathy for someone even though their actions were clearly evil.

    The thing with controversial art or statements or anything that’s remotely challenging, your fans will always look at it in the most positive light, and your detractors in the most negative. It’s a little sad when it turns into misdirected, reactionary hate, but that’s always gonna come when you’re a divisive person. You own that territory, so fuck ‘em.

  • Brad Cavanagh

    You just showed that no matter how screwed up someone is they still have the belief in themselves to do something. It is frightening and sad but even the NRA did not make them do this. The people that do unspeakable act do it for their reasons and no-one else. They may say it is their religious beliefs but in the end it is their belief that they are right and no-one can help them. Terrible things will always happen from the twisted mind. Unfortunately in a world with instant comment it means we do not have a time of reflection before comment. I say this with love.

  • Brandon Armstrong

    I don’t think people misinterpreted the poem, because the poem had very little to interpret. It was, in the first place, poorly written, the type of self-serving stuff 14 year olds write to feel “deep.”

    But more importantly, you chose to capitalize on a very dark event (that happened in the city I live in and was born in, by the way). You are clamoring for publicity in the wake of a VERY recent tragedy. Notice nobody in my city is writing poems like this – we’re depressed and speechless. We recognize the uselessness of a shitty poem like this when our neighbors just had twisted metal and ball bearings and nails with the heads cut off of them shot straight through their bodies. Your attempt to get attention, not to mention the laughably bad writing, demonstrates that you are a shallow person.

    By the way, what did you THINK people were going to interpret in the poem? It would have been best to steer clear altogether. Lesson learned the hard way!

    • Luke Southworth

      There is no captalising. I don’t know where you get that idea from? She’s from Boston, and she was pretty traumatised herself- as such, she wrote to spit out some feelings. You may not be familiar with Amanda, but if you are you’ll know she does that a LOT.

      • Brandon Armstrong

        I’m sorry that you are such a big fan of this woman you can’t see how blatantly obvious it is that throwing a poem like this up less than a week after what happened – while Copley Square and surrounding blocks are STILL closed off – with the criminal’s name admittedly tacked on to the title (she said herself how a lot of the poem has nothing to do with him, which was quite obvious) is a publicity stunt. There are many people who have done the same thing in the wake of this and several other tragedies. She should have been aware of the weight of something like this if she’s offering it to the public. Otherwise, spit those feelings into a little notebook and close it up in your desk drawer.

        • Brandon Armstrong

          By the way I’d like to ad that the publicity stunt has worked wonders as I’m sure Amanda has gotten more traffic to her site the last two days then she ever has before.

          • indeciSEAN

            Because after a very well-received TED Talk and generally good feelings surrounding her, there’s nothing like the great publicity of being seen as a terrorist-sympathizer. Right.

          • Bridget McGraw-Bordeaux

            i didn’t come away from the poem thinking she was a terrorist sympathizer, and overall from reading the comments, it seems like many many people didn’t come away thinking that. they just saw it as a crass grab at attention. big difference.

          • twofor

            It’s kind of hilarious how much you don’t know about Amanda Palmer. And it’s really sad that you think this cynicism is normal.

          • Doug Wexler

            its kind of hilarious how much you guys are sucking amandas clit right now

          • twofor

            Hang on… hypersexualised derogatory comments undermine whose argument, exactly? Also, it’s “it’s”. And “Amanda’s”.

          • lentower

            Sad, that you see this as a publicity stunt.

            If you really want to understand Amanda,
            instead of showing us all what’s wrong with you,
            I suggest you read her blogs from the beginning over a decade ago.

          • Paula Mack

            I have. Sadly.

          • Kaii

            I really disagree with what you’re saying here. Many other people are posting/commenting/talking/discussing/sharing about the Boston Marathon tragedy and a LOT of it is being done on the internet.
            The only difference between Amanda and those people is that she already
            happens to be pretty famous and therefore more people have read her

          • Brandon Armstrong

            You’re absolutely write Kaii – many are discussing this. My issue was never with Amanda discussing what happened. It really shocks me to think there are some people who read this and didn’t think Amanda expected to make a big splash with this poem. Somebody with as much public stature as her would know how many eyes would be on it. I think she expected to be perceived as very deep and insightful, but ended up with a poem that treats a very hurtful moment with staggeringly little respect and seriousness.

          • Brandon Armstrong


        • Luke Southworth

          I’m sorry if you can’t accept that people react to tragedies in different ways, but your presumption that it can only be motivated by greed when someone posts their feelings in an artistic way speaks a lot about your own mindset, not somebody else’s. Most people probably would just put it in a notebook, but that’s just not how Amanda does things- she’s a very public person, you can look over her history and see that. Her open-ness is what connects her to a lot of her fans- it’s who she is.

          Accept that people deal in different ways and move on. Raging at someone for coping differently to you is futile.

          • Brandon Armstrong

            Your right that raging at someone for coping differently is futile, and I’m not particularly trying to rage but you’re probably also right that I can’t really do any more by continuing to talk. But hopefully, if Amanda reads this she can see that I’m not just a troll looking for someone to bash. I am an intelligent person who was offended by what I consider the naivety of her action. And if she is a truly intelligent person (which I believe she is) she might be open to the exchange of ideas and perspectives. Nobody is perfect, including Amanda (and me).

            So maybe she will be able to admit, even if only to herself, that it wasn’t a good idea to do this, that it didn’t help anybody except her true fans who find enjoyment reading anything that goes through her head (not a bad thing) and really did offend thousands. Or maybe she will stand stubbornly by her actions. Who knows. But it’s worth her consideration.

        • lentower

          Sad, that you feel that everyone has to behave the way you wish them to.

          Sad, that you feel you have a right to tell people what they can and can not post in their blog, on a web sight they pay for.

          Sad, that you don’t have any concept of what American freedom is really about.

          • Brandon Armstrong

            Sad, that you can’t see that you are just as unwilling to entertain my ideas as I am to entertain yours – and yet here you are on your soapbox preaching to me. The American freedom you speak of would be what’s happening right now, Amanda saying something I don’t like and me saying something you don’t like and neither of us getting shot for it. Should I keep quiet when I disagree? But that doesn’t SOUND like freedom of speech…

            If Amanda isn’t interested in our opinions she should remove the comment section of her blog.

          • lentower

            I entertained ideas like yours over fifty years ago,
            and saw no worth in them.

            You haven’t changed my mind.

            Freedom of speech needs to be balanced with responsibility,
            or it does more harm than good.

            Your speech above is full of assumptions coming from how you see the world,
            and has nothing to do with the person I know, Amanda Palmer.

            You can now go back to hurting the world with your speech.

        • Paula Mack

          Thank you Brandon.

    • Gg

      Somebody in your city is writing poems like that – Amanda is. This is her city too. Don’t tell everyone here we have to feel the same way you do.

      • Brandon Armstrong

        Are you the same guy who wrote this? “No, the quotidian details of your day have no relevance to what happened in Boston last week. Only a boundless narcissist could think otherwise. Please, please leave this alone now.”

    • a_dad66

      There are opinions, and there are informed opinions. By saying things like “nobody in my city is writing poems like this,” talking about *your* city and *your* neighbors you demonstrate you don’t know where Amanda Palmer is coming from. Try reading all the words in the blog above before commenting. Your opinion will then at least be informed.

      • Brandon Armstrong

        I know she’s lived in Boston. It’s my understanding she was born in New York City, and now lives near Minneapolis, so maybe you’re the one who doesn’t have their information straight. I don’t particularly consider the millions of young people who’ve passed through this city (in case you forgot we’re possibly the biggest college city in the country) to be “from Boston” but sure, she’s spent time here. I actually don’t really understand what part of what I wrote you consider “uninformed”.

        • AxlReznor

          Well, considering she was at home in Boston in Friday, I’d say she still lives in Boston. And being born in New York City does not make Boston any less her hometown.

        • lentower

          You’re understanding is mostly wrong.

          Though born in NYC, she grew up in Lexington, MA, a few miles north west of Boston, and has lived in or within a few miles of Boston since college.

          For more than a decade she has lived less than a mile from the bombing site,
          and regularly jogs, walks, shops, etc. that section of Boylston Street.

          To be even clearer:


    • Kate Dillon

      A. Boston is just as much Amanda’s city as it is yours.
      B. Boston has a vibrant and amazing slam poetry scene. Go to the Cantab Lounge on a Wednesday night sometime. And if you think none of those brilliant poets are working on any pieces about this life-shaking, profound event, you are not thinking clearly.

      • Brandon Armstrong

        No it isn’t – I was born and raised here and still live here. Amanda was born elsewhere and lives elsewhere. Also I know the poetry scene here – you can catch me in the Lizard Lounge often. I’m sure they are working on their pieces. Are they showing them to millions of people 6 days after the incident? Nope. If they are they should consider cooling off a little bit.

      • lentower

        There are other Boston venues for open-mic poetry.

        The Boston Phoenix use to list them, but is gone.

        Web search?

    • tired

      So much hate baby ! Relax ! Have sex, make art, have a drink, take a shower, run, scream, laugh ! LOVE

      • Brandon Armstrong

        I do all those things. I have no hate in my heart except for people like Dzhokhar. As a matter of fact, believe it or not, I have plenty of respect for Amanda, in every regard EXCEPT this. Because to me is a cheap stab at attention. And this post she’s put up today is only digging a deeper ditch for herself. It would be best to say, “I shouldn’t have posted up something like this so soon after a tragedy and especially shouldn’t have filled it with nonsense unrelated to the incident and expect people to swallow it as some very deep outpouring of the soul,” and apologize for the hurt feelings and move on. That would have mended things, at least to the people like myself, who are open-minded yet in disagreement with this one particular action.

    • Stephanie RaincloudAxberg

      Quick question… how do you know that people in your city aren’t writing poetry (even poetry “like this”) in an attempt to understand what happened? Is your problem with the poem itself or with the fact that she posted it “in the wake of a VERY recent tragedy.”? It’s Amanda’s blog, and whether you like it or not this is her place to post her thoughts. If you don’t want to read them, perhaps you can go read something else, or even write your own blog or poetry to process what you are feeling. I’m not being facetious here, I really think that your voice and opinion as just as valid as Amanda’s. As for her “laughably bad writing” that was “poorly written, the type of self-serving stuff 14 year olds write to feel ‘deep’.”, your opinion about that is your own. Beauty is open to interpretation, and who is to say something written by Amanda or even a 14 year old is any less valid than something written in a different style? The point is, we can’t fully know what was in Amanda’s head or heart when she wrote that piece, but you are certainly allowed to think what you want about it. I encourage you to try and not generalize what an entire city of people are doing to cope with this tragedy. I’m sure there are people there who are using poetry, song, and art to deal with their feelings about this terrible event. I hope this comment didn’t come off as an attack, because that is not how it was meant. You, and everyone in your city, are in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings to you.

    • anon

      AP never makes mistakes! How dare you imply that she doesn’t know what she is doing?!?? I’m outraged! And provoked! Trololololo

  • Max Madman

    Tough week…

  • AxlReznor

    Thanks for that, Amanda. I had no idea how much of a shitstorm the poem had caused, but I can’t say it surprises me.

    Anyway, I did dislike the poem. And it’s not because of any disagreement or anything. I understand your reasons for writing it, and I completely agree with the sentiment. I just don’t think it was very good. Hearing that it was written in about 9 minutes makes sense, though.

    No judgment here. No one can like EVERYTHING, so it was inevitable that you’d eventually do something I don’t like, despite being a fan.

    Anyway, keep doing what you do.

  • Nocty

    Oh, I love you, Amanda!

    The violent voices calling for mob-mentality censorship are terrifying, but it’s so important to continue the discussion and not fall silent. Silence is servility and passivity.

    So thank you, for writing your poem, for responding to the crazy, and remaining, as ever, firm in your convictions.

  • CASiE

    I appreciate the fact that you spoke here about empathy now seeming to be tantamount to being unAmerican. I wrote something just after the bombing which outlined my general views– peace, humanity,tolerance– and the importance of empathy. I got accused the same day of being ‘pro-fanatical jihadists’, which besides being a ridiculous thing to claim was also clearly the exact opposite of how I really feel. It is important to empathize rather than just condemn– how else do we get a clear picture? Empathy causes us to view others–especially those who perpetrate violent acts– as one of us, and it is the difficult path. It is much easier to call folks monsters and animals than to have to admit that they are in fact humans. Dehumanizing people only serves to perpetuate a bad cycle and makes others feel better in the short term; ‘well, he’s clearly an animal, don’t know how he got that way, but we should put him down’. If we empathize, we have to wonder about peoples’ motivations, circumstances, world-views, and our own (individual, societal, cultural) complicity in their behavior. And that’s not easy. No one wants to feel guilty. We want to feel blameless. It makes it much easier to get on with our days if we don’t have to question ourselves, and if we can point at someone else and say ‘he/she is much worse than me, clearly’. Empathy is as much about identifying with another person as it is about identifying who YOU are.

  • Aussieblonk-Melbourne Aust.

    When I read, ‘poem for dzhokhar’, to me it was more like a diary entry, and my feeling was you didn’t write of some events, purposely.
    However, on reading this blog, I re-read, and now being able to piece together events, I was wrong!
    I certainly failed you, because I had not read a previous blog, therefore didn’t know you were in Boston at the time. Personally, I felt disappointment, not anger, so now armed with the facts, it would be wrong of me to fail you again. Well done on awakening sleeping giants, and at the very least, get many thinking,
    and many more admitting their fear and vulnerabilties.
    Hopefully you don’t always feel you need to explain your art, being open to interpretation is what actually makes it Art.
    *not necessarily a note of apology* ..possibly a suggestion I messed up!

    • Brandon Armstrong

      How do you feel she “got many thinking?” I would give the credit for thought provocation to the two bombs the blew up in the dead center of Boston.

      • Klementine Sander

        But can’t you agree that she was showing a slightly different perspective of it that people may have failed to notice if all the stimuli they were given, so to speak (not that I want to trivialize the bombings and the suffering and so on) was the violent message of exploding bombs?

        • Brandon Armstrong

          Is the slightly different perspective that perhaps we should find some empathy for the killer? I think that perspective should definitely wait a while, if we ever consider it. Yes, we all have the idea that he was a young kid who was probably just really infatuated with his older brother and did what his brother said was right, sure, but honestly, that’s not a good angle to be spreading. It’s like folks who say Hitler was just mad because he didn’t get into art school, that was the great hurt of his life and responsible for his later actions. If you find real empathy for killers like this, I mean empathy that can even come near eclipsing the rage, then I would be afraid to find out what sort of reactions to being upset you think are reasonable.

  • leah

    i don’t understand why people are so hostile towards empathy, it doesn’t make sense at all. it’s way harder to love someone…i actually believe in dzhokar’s innocence. not in the way most people think of innocence. i think that’s he’s my age, dropped out of university, feeling lost, confused, alone. he feels like he wants to do something. he was influenced by his brother and the immensity of the world…i just am so scared of what’s going to happen, and it breaks my heart that’s he’s all alone right now and thinking the entire world hates him for what he supposedly did. when the truth is, he’s too young to truly understand…

  • Constantin Necrasov

    Thank you very much for the explanation! :)

    What follows below is by no means an attack, just some amateur analysis.

    It seems to me that you either:
    a) wrote a poem trying to make a point and now are stepping back or
    b) you have initially used the hype of the events unfolding and the freshness of the subject matter to drive readers to the poem and instigate a conversation
    Scenario a – and you are too soft. Scenario b – and you are a troll.
    There’s also scenario c – the use whatever crosses your attention span to write stream of consciousness poetry. But that has been done sooo many times…

    It is god that people are talking and it is good that you show them their fears, but that changes nothing when it comes to the issues that cause what you ‘didn’t’ write about. As I said before – poetry is not a way to deal with it. We need to act directly and not through manifestations.

    • Alex_L_H

      “But that has been done sooo many times.” so it could never possibly happen again? the poem never claimed to be about “dealing with” anything, it is a coping mechanism, to help one come to terms with thoughts and emotions, to process. no softness, no trolling.

  • Gregory Wyrdmaven

    America is a funny/scary place right now. We’re on the other side of giving the rest of the world a lot of very valid reasons for hating us, and like you’ve said here, we haven’t asked “why do they hate us?” or “how can we understand their motivations?” Instead the country celebrates itself, hangs the flag out even more, chants USA! USA! USA! and we continue to simply experience the “fight or flight” response, and here in Uhmurkah, we always fight. And it is about the country only being able to think about itself in those terms and we label them as terrorists and that they “hate America/Freedom/Democracy” instead of “why did two humans seek to hurt/kill dozens of other humans.” And when we only feel empathy for “those like us” or, I’m afraid, not at all, then that makes for a very dangerous environment.
    It’s the smothering of the conscience in ideology that allows us and them to do inhuman things and I see humans everyday do things against their best interests, who make a bad situation worse, while at the same time having a superior attitude about how they live. Patton Oswalt’s comments about “the good outnumber the bad” are nice, but I’m also concerned, as the internet has hinted at, that there is a thin veneer of civility where it concerns a great many people and just a little less empathy or conscience or just plain thought, is all that stands between them baring their fangs and chewing on their own leg in a trap of their own imagining.
    Here’s hoping the shadows are only cast by the light.
    Fiat lux

  • Meaghan Alysia Lenick

    i always love your blog posts, you make great points. but, honestly, you don’t get to them till the end of a really long post. i have friends that i would love to read this, but i think they’d give up before the end which is the best part. sometimes you spend too much time apologizing and explaining, though i understand because i do that too. I enjoy reading your posts–i think making them shorter and cutting out some of the defensive stuff (because those haters are lame anyways) could possibly get your blog posts to a larger audience.

    • indeciSEAN

      The goal isn’t necessarily to find a larger audience – maybe it’s just about connecting to those that get it without it needing to tailored.

  • Julia Stamman
  • Nikki

    For some reason, the fact that the poem caused so much uproar really bothered me, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I didn’t write it, and the hate wasn’t directed at me, but there was still some part of me that was taking it personally. I told my friend about it, and about how I was feeling.

    And he told me that it’s not just because the hate was directed at you, it’s because the hate was directed at art — as writing as a coping mechanism.

    The idea that there could be so much backlash against writing (or painting or singing or dancing) in a time like this was terrifying. When people are afraid to post blog comments about a subject, how can we get over the fear of making art about it?

    I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I don’t know how to deal with things in any other way.

    I guess I think of art as the equal and opposite reaction to terrible things. And charity, and love, and compassion — but making art definitely makes the list. Especially when there seems to be so little compassion to go around.

    Anyway, thank you. If I wasn’t brave enough to write before, I am now. I’m obviously seeing everything through the lens of someone immersed in your community, but through that lens I’ve seen so much love come out of this. And I have to believe that that’s worth the hate.

    • Bri

      Thank you for putting this into words… I was trying to puzzle together WHY I felt so irritated at the awful comments. Your friend is spot-on. They weren’t angry at Amanda. They don’t even KNOW Amanda. They were angry at art she created and they tried to turn that art into a weapon against her.

      I don’t know how to deal any other way, either.

      I want to thank Amanda for doing what she does, for being herself and not tangling and tripping in the hatred and negativity. You are an inspiration to those of us that cope the same way. <3

      • Bostonbred

        I know Amanda, actually. From years ago. She can be a rude bitch (but also a charming person – not entirely clear her criteria for directing either rudeness or charm at you, but there is a correlation with your own attitude towards her). But having known her has nothing to do with my reaction to her “poem”. It’s just offensive to see her claiming empathy with a broken young man, when she’s so far removed from his experience. And she’s so wrapped up in herself that it’s impossible for her to empathize with him. That’s why her thoughts are so superficial and ultimately “about” ordering coffee and checking on phone battery. And, for people who knew her – either personally or through reputation – this is typical behavior, that speaks of ego-gratification and attention-seeking. And that’s just deplorable. At this time. When Boston is still suffering. You must be a fan. I know she presents herself as a victim. But it’s simply not the case. She offends people. Diligently.

        • ebeth

          “That’s why her thoughts are so superficial and ultimately “about” ordering coffee and checking on phone battery”

          i think the idea that every thought during a tragedy has to be deep and meaningful is damaging. brains are funny things, and will jump all over the place. life is still happening, and some people respond to tragedy by grabbing on to it. when things haven’t properly sunk in and you still have a level where you think life is flowing along, any little disruption – like a cell phone dying – can shake everything up.

          the friday before the bombings, a friend of mine killed himself. the next day, i realized my wallet was missing. i tore my place apart looking for it and got inordinately angry and upset. the wallet was what my brain had focused on, but it wasn’t what my feelings were about

          i don’t know if that was amanda’s thought process with the cell phone line – maybe she just needed it to keep in contact with her friends in boston. but don’t assume any thoughts during a tragedy are superficial, because people don’t work like that. some people cope through the mundane, and that doesn’t mean they’re feeling any less

          • Bostonianfromhell

            Your example is profound; we often sublimate our feelings (& I’m sorry about your friend). But that’s not what happened in this “poem”. In the poem, “Dzhokhar” was worried about his iPhone battery. This is supposed to be Art that sheds light on this tragedy, and instead it just brings up Amanda’s random thoughts? That’s superficial.

          • Nabs D

            I know we all understood different things from the poem, but I am pretty sure it is NOT about Dzokhar’s actual FEELINGS, but about scenes from life, like still photographs, frozen moments of little things that were happening at the moment, I imagined this poem like a movie, and I understood that most lines in it were scenes that were happening to people during this tragedy- like there were different characters in it, and we were looking at them like in a movie, and these scenes were all regular human experiences that happen to us during tragedies… it made me think of the funeral of one of my boyfriend’s best friends, and how we were there and his mother was almost catatonic, and everyone was crying, and it was a real tragedy, and I went to get some tea for me and my boyfriend but the guy who made the tea didn’t give me the one I wanted, and for some reason whenever I think of that horrible, horrible day I always think of that tea…
            It’s these scenes of life that make us humans…

            And I think this was the intention of the poem- not to put Dzokhar’s FEELINGS into words, but to put these little, stupid scenes into words, Amanda didn’t know how many vietnamese soft rolls to order while this boy who had just commited a horrible crime hid under a boat, and you were sitting on your computer watching a YouTube video of puppies, and somewhere on the other side of the planet there was a girl crying in the shower because her boyfriend is cheating on her, and Dzokhar was thinking about his dead brother, and the family of the victims were hugging in the hospital, and three blocks away there was an old lady making soup for her husband…

            So, these are not superficial feelings, this is just life, that thing that happens to us ALL: nurses, truck drivers, firefighters, porn stars, Johnny Depp, your 3rd grade teacher, the writers of The Big Bang Theory, your neighbor and Dzokhar Tsarnaev…

          • stormypink

            You said it best…I couldn’t have said it better

          • Cohen

            That’s your reading; Amanda just stated that’s not what she wrote. She wrote a stream-of-consciousness jumble about what she was thinking about in the aftermath of the bombing — and one of those thoughts was wondering at Dzhokhar’s experience, what could possibly make a person do something like that. It was a poem about a woman, in a coffee shop, wondering sadly about the world. Many of us connected with it.
            Granted, it was a little ambiguous, but she dashed it off in 10 minutes – she was quickly sharing her thoughts with her fans. But any piece of art will be interpreted according to the individual who reads it — even if she had put weeks into carefully constructing this poem, people would have still brought their own readings into it. She can’t control that. And she shouldn’t. That’s where the most revealing moments happen.

          • flynn99

            “you don’t know how precious your iphone battery time was until you’re hiding in the bottom of the boat.”

            I don’t think the implication is he was ‘worried’. the word that stood out for me was ‘precious’… because if you’re lying there, bleeding, dying, wanting to die, wanting to live, (who knows?) then perhaps the most precious thing to you is to be able to talk to someone you know. I don’t think it’s superficial at all.

          • luci_fer

            “But that’s not what happened in this “poem”. In the poem, “Dzhokhar” was worried about his iPhone battery. ”

            I don’t think your reading and interpretation is any more or less valid than ebeths –
            with the exception that ebeth phrased the interpretation with the disclaimer “I don’t know if that was amanda’s thought process” and you’ve assumed it.

            Readings of poems are subjective, not objective truth…

          • Bostonianfromhell

            luci_fre, I didn’t interpret anything. This 9 minute spew is hardly worth an interpretation. Readings of poems though can be supported through an analysis of the text. That’s what the entire field of Literature does. I really could care less if Dzhokhar was worried about his iPhone in Amanda Palmer’s “poem”. It’s inauthentic. Which is why Amanda Palmer took it back when she said, no, actually, it’s about me. Oh, yes, it is, attribution notwithstanding.

          •!/libbyking punksocks

            it’s a matter of truth, not truth.

          • Kirsten Petersen

            The thing about the phone battery dying resonated with me. On a good day that would make me feel lost and helpless. But on a day where everything is upside down, it would be very upsetting. And then I would be upset at myself for being upset about something so mundane and meaningless. The wallet … I can relate to that completely. I am so sorry about your friend. Suicide is terrible.

        • luci_fer

          No…people are offended. Diligently.

          That she’s out to offend *because* people are offended is a bit circular.

          She does court controversy, yes. And that’s going to offend people. And she also is a strong advocate of freedom of speech and expression. It’s impossible NOT to offend someone at some point if that’s a principle you feel strongly about.

          She wrote a poem (not the first poem she’s published on her blog) as a response to something that affected her emotionally. Why on earth is that deplorable, especially at this time? When people are hurting that’s absolutely the time they should be sharing their feelings about it and expressing themselves. It’s a healthy way to deal with it.

          It should also be noted that the reading of the poem probably shouldn’t be extended to a reading of the writer – it’s authorial fallacy and a relies on a set of assumptions which may not be correct. But that aside – let us assume it WAS an attempt to empathise with someone whose experiences are outside of our own. Still not a bad thing.

          • Bostonbred

            Amanda Palmer doesn’t set out to offend people. She is attention-seeking and callous. Who are you people? There are hundreds of comments underneath the “poem” describing its lack of sensitivity. This is hardly a revelation. I think the image of Amanda Palmer’s offensiveness being circular is pretty right on though. Seems like she does some new idiotic attention-seeking thing every six months now. It just goes on and on and on.

        • Jess Britton

          I disagree, but I agree that you have a right to voice your opinion. And that’s what all of this has taught me. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know all the facts. I can’t claim to be right simply because of my feelings or assumptions, but I have that right to feel. And it’s what I do with those feelings–how I use them, how I channel them, how I work through them–that makes all the difference.

          • Bostonbred

            According to Amanda Palmer, you don’t get to feel if your feelings irritate Amanda Palmer. It’s her way, or *sob* *oh dear, why is everyone hurting me so much?* *I was just expressing my feelings* and *here you come with all your hate*. Well, no not hate, but a genuine feeling of being offended.

            anyway, Jess – you do get to have answers. There is evidence to support answers all around you. As far as AP goes, well I have myriad examples to support my statement that she is an attention-seeking narcissist. And so do you. Or at least, a simple Google search would give you that evidence.

            But you are right that if you feel differently, then you feel differently. If you’re not offended by Amanda Palmer, then you’re not. Good for you. But thousands of other people are.

          • Jess Britton

            You know, the interesting thing about this exchange (the one between us) is that you and I have no reason to be angry with one another, and yet, there’s this overwhelming sense of anger and Who Gets To Be Right and Just Because You Aren’t Offended, Thousands of Other People Are! I don’t understand it, honestly.

          • Kirsten Petersen

            Why would anyone who really dislikes Amanda and finds her offensive be here anyway? I honestly don’t get it. Who has the time to go looking for blog posts that make them angry?

      • sarjé

        I’ve written to cope, for years. When the bombing happened, I couldn’t write. I used someone else’s words to create an erasure poem (
        I wasn’t there, I am nowhere near. I just didn’t know what to say. I’m too far away to say anything myself, I think…

    • wilder125

      edit: somehow my reply to someone else, appeared on yours. I apologize

    • revsparker

      Thank you for this. I’ve been deeply affected too. At first I thought it was the debate being framed as empathy vs. hate, but I realized I made up my mind about that a long time ago. When my stepbrother was raping me, I decided I would never become a monster like him. I saw his hate and how it turned into violence, and I decided that I would do whatever it took to heal. So I worked like hell, by myself and with the help of counselors and other professionals, to unlock the power of my anger in ways that wouldn’t turn against others or myself. So that argument, though it saddens me to see so many who embrace rage and hate, was not the root of my reaction.

      Like you, it’s the attack on art, coupled with the wild accusations that all art is about ego that is breaking my heart. It alternately frightens me and makes me angry that so many people are not just ignorant of, but antagonistic toward the power of art and personal expression. It’s like we’ve forgotten that art has amazing power–not just powers that help us understand and heal, but also powers to resist and reject destruction and despair. Art has kept me alive so many times.


      The crappy poetry I wrote in my teens that kept me from cutting my wrists. Paintings that I ruined by filling the canvas with all the colors of rage. Art that I made and intentionally destroyed as part of the process. Fragile art that was never meant to last, like a sand mandala. And art that was so private that I could not bear to share it with anyone, let alone the world. By many definitions, that art had no value. It was no good. It communicated nothing. But it kept me alive. Not only that, it helped me find my way through. It kept me from killing myself and at least once, it kept me from hurting someone else.

      So what breaks my heart is that so many people seem oblivious to or enraged by the idea that making art is a legitimate, even wise, way to respond to whatever may come. Yes, even bombings. Maybe especially bombings. Sharing that art is also completely legitimate and is, in the case of everyone I know, an act not of ego, but of incredible vulnerability.

      Amanda’s poem was like that for me. I read it and heard in my own mind and heart the words, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” I read it and felt compassion, not so much for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but for all of us, confused, overwhelmed, angry, uncertain, broken, human.

      • Nikki

        Thank you thank you thank you for your story. It’s painful but beautiful, and really, really true.

        From what I can see, a lot of people don’t even take vulnerability into account when it comes to someone like Amanda. But I think that, ironically enough, the more you define yourself through your art the less ego there is in it, and the more vulnerable it makes you.

        There’s always going to be ego in art. That doesn’t mean it’s not legitimate, or that it’s self-indulgent. What one person sees in herself might help others to see that same thing in themselves, or in the people around them. Like you said, it all goes back to compassion — compassion for everyone, even the broken and those who broke them and those who might be breaking in the process.

      • Reality check

        I really “empathize” with your step brother. Maybe I should right a poem about the poor boy given the way you’re demonizing him, calling him a “monster” and all, have you no compassion? You would not hate me for that right? After all it would be terrible and “scary” if people felt they could not express empathy for rapists and pedophiles publicly. Then I will write one about Anders Brevik someone else in great need of “empathy” and understanding, I will try to rationalize what he did, what your brother did, and hell what pedophiles do because hate is bad Mmkay, understanding is what’s needed.

        Would you be ok with all that? If someone took the horrible things you were subjected to and made it about the person who committed them? How he should be empathized with and understood, all while ignoring you the real victim in all of it? I await your and miss Palmers expression of “empathy” for rapists.

        • revsparker

          The things he did to me *were* and *are* about him, not me. So I’m not sure I understand your question.

          If you are asking if it’s okay for someone to feel empathy for my stepbrother, my answer is yes. Empathy is a feeling, and I have no desire to control people’s feelings. Feel hatred, feel empathy–just feel something. AND don’t tell me what to feel or that my feelings are wrong.

          I have chosen empathy–yes, even toward the person who raped an humiliated me as a child and that has helped me heal. He was fifteen when he began abusing me and eighteen when he stopped. I have often wondered where he learned to rape. Suffering begets suffering. Hatred begets hatred. I know he hated himself more than he hated me and more than I ever hate him.

          Make no mistake, I despise what he did. I wish someone had believed me and he would have been punished. I feel no wishy-washiness about the wrongness of his behavior, it’s immorality, it’s badness. AND I have chosen to cultivate forgiveness and yes, empathy toward him. I have looked at his life and seen evidence of the ways he was a victim and how that gave him a twisted view of power and control. I have watched for thirty some years as he has become more and more lost, damaged, and alone. He lives with his mother. He is addicted to gambling. He has been forever banned from having a driver’s license because he cannot stop driving recklessly. (not drunk, but constantly driving way too fast and aggressively, causing countless accidents that have left him disabled and at least one person dead.) He is a broken, ruined man who breaks and ruins others.

          The only thing of value I learned from him is that I did not want to be like that. I did not want to be that angry, violent, broken, ruined.

          I didn’t adopt empathy and forgiveness as some naive, clueless “hippie” philosophy. I worked incredibly hard to heal and forgiveness and empathy are tools I use to keep healing. And it’s not some easy fucking mental exercise. It’s more like chopping wood–it takes sustained effort, strength, and will. In order to be more than a victim, more than a survivor even, I have spent years wielding these tools, and becoming strong.

          It’s possible that your anger will make you strong. I haven’t told anyone not to feel anger or even hatred. I’ve simply asked that you show Amanda and those of us who relate to the poem and its reaching for some kind of understanding some small amount of respect. Stop yelling at us. Stop insulting us. Stop assuming our motives. Stop being a hate fundamentalist. Try to imagine that we are all dealing with a horrible, horrible thing and we are all using the tools that we trust.

  • Matthew Ebel

    You know Eddie Izzard, right?

    10% is what you say, 20% is how you sound when you say it, 70% is how you LOOK when you say it.

    People don’t react to what you mean, they react to what they perceive. The challenge of language is not in articulating what’s inside your brain, it’s in manipulating someone else’s brain to understand what you mean.

    It’s like handing someone a floppy disk (remember those?) with a file on it. You could have put anything you want on there, but if their computer is incompatible with yours all they’ll see is gibberish. Worse yet, they’ll think you’re giving them a virus or trojan horse.

    It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn and re-learn for… well, fuck it, I’m still learning it. I’ll let you know when I’ve figured this shit out.

    • twofor

      I love this analogy so much.

      • Matthew Ebel

        Thanks. :)

    • lentower

      This question of perception has a lot to do with each person belief system.

      Their reactions are largely their problem, caused by what they believe.

      • Matthew Ebel

        And, illustrating my point, you choose to use the word “problem”.

        Their reactions are largely their prerogative.

        Their reactions are largely their choice.

        Their reactions are largely their burden.

        Their reactions are largely their instincts.

        Your choice of “problem” immediately paints the listener as an antagonist. Diplomacy is the art of painting your own picture without coloring your listener’s canvas.

    • Carly

      YES YES YES. So much yes and also thank you.

    • Hillary

      This is so true, about how you LOOK when you speak. There was a pastor who posted a personal essay about loving and forgiving the perpetrator of this crime on the Huffington Post. It was actually much more sympathetic, in my mind, than what Palmer posted. Not everyone agreed, but there wasn’t even CLOSE to the amount of backlash that Amanda got. Because, of course, it was written by a pastor, who happened to be a nice, respectable-looking, older man. Amanda plays punk rock and has weird eyebrows. Amanda is the ENEMY. It doesn’t really matter what she says about it.

  • Bárbara Renner

    Amanda, you have my love and admiration.

    Te amo ♥

  • Kelly Sessions

    When I first read your poem, it made me feel…squirmy. Embarrassed, almost. “Oh, that Amanda. She’s taken it too far, but not in her usual, glammy way.” But here’s what I’ve thought about since:

    – It’s admirable to do what you’re doing in this blog entry, calmly explaining your thoughts without lashing back.

    – It’s not a requirement for a poet to explain the references in her poetry, but you did because you realize that you may have caused more pain inadvertently. I also admire that.

    – I still think the poem could have used some revision. It seems to feel so much for the ones doing the hurting (although yes, they were hurt too) than for the victims, and I think that’s a large part of what alienated people. Saying, “Yes, bystanders were hurt, and that’s terrible. I am mourning them. But let’s not forget that people were lost on both sides, and how would you feel if someone you loved was being hunted like this?” is very different than focusing only on the killer of the moment. It felt like you were doing something sensational just to be sensational. Maybe talking about both sides wouldn’t have made it feel so…well, one-sided.

    – When something terrible happens, people want someone to blame. Without a legal system to prosecute wrongdoing, we could never feel safe. (At least, I couldn’t.) And all your talk about “love, don’t fear, etc.” made me angry yesterday. Because if someone can kill like this and all we do is spread love, we’ll never be able to walk outside our doors. Loving your enemies can only get you so far if they are inexplicably violent, and sometimes you do need to fight back. But if one of my cousins had done this, or my brother, I’d need to understand that he needed to be prosecuted…but I would still mourn him with all my heart. I would feel like I lost him in multiple ways, all at once. And I think that’s what this poem did best: it makes us remember that everyone has a background, a family, etc. That pain often extends in far more directions than we realize or understand.

    Thank you for being willing to talk about things that are difficult to talk about, and for doing it without anger or hatred. Your fans are usually pretty awesome about that, and I respect how hard you work to keep everyone from getting at each other’s throats. Keep it up.

  • Misty Simmons-Poteet

    Amanda, your thoughts on empathy resonate so deeply with me.
    I remember being in High School at the time of the Columbine High School massacre,and my English teacher asked the class to discuss how they felt about what had happened.
    I listened silently as everyone in the class talked about how the shooters were evil and hoped they would burn in hell. The teacher walked around the room listening intently to each one, before coming to rest beside my desk.She then asked me what I thought about what had happened. I quietly said that I wondered what horrible things had happened to the boys who had murdered all of those students. What could have hurt them so badly that they needed to seek revenge by taking so many lives?
    The teacher wasn’t pleased by my response at all. In fact she became enraged and questioned me about my morals and how could I think anything besides what the others had thought…that they were evil, even the other students chimed in agreeing with her.
    High School really ended for me when I answered that question. The students thought that because I wore black and had shown empathy towards those who they deemed “evil” that I was to be hated just the same.

    I’ll never understand why people do evil things….but I don’t think we are born evil or bad, we just get lost somewhere along the way.

    • poetess

      It’s worth reading Robert Pinksky’s response to the bombing:

      P.S.: Robert Pinksky is an esteemed poet, worth checking out if you want to read truly moving poetry.

      • anon

        To surmise the above written blogroll article for to-day: “AP doesn’t make mistakes. And now back to our regularly scheduled pseudo intellectual clowny BS.” Trololololo!

    • HmmMaybe

      Of course there’s nothing wrong with empathy, and I think your teacher was unhelpful (at best) for censoring your view without attempting to understand it. I’m sorry that you experienced what you did for thinking differently about the issue than your peers.

      Personally, I don’t like the word “evil”… it sounds so supernatural and religious to me, when I am agnostic at best. Evil, translated in my world, is actually mental illness. I have lived with someone mentally ill, and I can say from experience that there is no comprehensible reason or logic to delusion, psychosis and psychopathology. It is often not understandable by outsiders, and that’s ok.

      Looking for reasons, wondering about causes, is sometimes pointedly unhelpful to recovering from trauma caused by the mentally ill. Mental illness often has a “reason” that is real to the one who is ill, but which others cannot comprehend – it may well be that NOTHING bad happened to those boys. They may well have been ‘born that way.’ It is a shame that no one helped them, but they are accountable for themselves. We all are.

      i also believe they didn’t ‘get lost’… they chose their path.

      I do understand that it would be comforting to see a cause-effect (“they must have been abused or they wouldn’t have done this”) in that it maintains a logical (if awful) course of events. But I believe the true horror of mental illness is that sometimes, there really is no logic, no identifiable cause, no reason to what some people choose to do.

      Even if there WAS abuse, even if there IS a path of wrong being done to them… I definitely don’t think it’s fair to try to lay blame for their actions at anyone else’s (their parents’, their teachers’, their classmates’) feet, to believe that “evil” was “caused” by something or someone outside of the person themselves. They alone made their choices. Whatever reasons they had were their own. There was always a choice to rise above.

      Presumably you did not react to your ‘shunning’ in the same manner as the shooters? You chose a different path? They could have also. Many MANY do. MOST do, even.

      If your teacher and classmates felt that you were attempting to shift the blame to others, that you believed the shooters’ responsibility for their actions was in some way mitigated by some (imagined) harm that might have come to them… perhaps you can see how this was not agreeable to them? I’m not in any way trying to say they reacted well, I’m simply saying that their reaction might be understandable, logical, if they misunderstood the intent of your comments, if they thought you were trying to do something less than hold the shooters accountable.

      I”m guessing here, obviously, and only trying to be helpful with those guesses. It sounds like there was a lot of misunderstanding; I don’t believe you were trying to EXCUSE the shootings with your reply, but if that’s what they heard, I also think it’s possible you misunderstood their objection to your comments.

      Of course I could be very wrong, I wasn’t there. I may also be trying to assign reason and logic to things that may be beyond reason and logic. Feelings often are. In any case, I hope you find a community of friends that take the time to think for themselves, and also to respectfully question you about what you say before leaping to conclusions and acting on them.

      • Misty Simmons-Poteet

        At the root of this lies the nature vs’s nurture debate…Do I believe a person is born either good or bad or does their environment and caretakers play a role? Yes a person can be born mentally ill, I have close relatives who suffer from mental illness. Do I believe they are capable of doing great harm during certain circumstances…yes I do.

        However I do not believe a person is born “bad”, or born “good”. I do believe that environment and caretakers play a significant role, one that is just as important as whether or not they are born mentally healthy. We don’t simply say “that person has cancer, they are going to die” we as humans try to find a treatment or cure. We even take preventative measures and do research to find out what’s the cause.

        Asking questions and digging deeper than what we see at the surface helps us to grow as people. Trying to understand why these things happen may help us to prevent it in the future.

        I’ve never taken the stance that anyone else is to blame for my actions or placed direct blame on anyone else for another’s actions. I believe in accountability, so much so that I try to look past the surface to see if there is a lesson to be learned. Sometimes there isn’t….sometimes violence is just senseless. I think as a society we must delve deeper and try to understand what is there, because somewhere in all of us there is the ability to choose right or wrong. And it is through understanding what motivates those choices that we might better learn how to control them.

        • Tom

          I guess the foot is on the other hand now, isn’t it?

        • social worker

          I don’t think you’re talking about Amanda Palmer, but it is relevant. Clearly, she is personality-disordered – a narcissist, perhaps borderline, and likely bipolar (as she admits). She CAN and DOES do great harm. Is she responsible?!? That’s a good question.

          • Killy Jones

            You seriously don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • stormypink

            social worker wanna be psychologist

          • Caterina Maria

            Hey, quit fucking co-opting my future profession for your nastiness. Refer to the NASW Code of Ethics if you’re having issues.

          • Bran042225

            I find this incredibly funny that you demeaned social worker for her view on the subject when that is EXACTLY how the Misty started it with her teacher after Columbine. Ahh how we forget so quickly when we feel so much hate for an opinion …You have a wonderful day :)

            And although I disagree with Misty’s opinion I believe should put it in terms that open debate not hate. Good job Misty.

          • Caterina Maria

            Only just noticed this: Did you see that Misty was framing the subject in a way that didn’t connect “OMG what awful people” with “and here’s their pathology”? Misty was being a lot more charitable, and not wielding the DSM like a mace. I know which approach I’d prefer to take in practice.

          • Evil_Buzzard

            If she CAN and DOES great harm, why care if she is responsible? Why not find some way to alleviate the risk.

          • john

            ha… i love love love how you degrade social workers with your sn and your posts. you have no subjective clinical experience with Palmer, yet you indulge your anger with a display of your complete and utter lack of an understanding for clinical DX and clinical skills?

        • Abigail Rose

          I wish to God there were more people like you in the world.

      • Jesse Markham

        Evil works for me as a kind of shorthand for pathology: any sort of anomalous/aberrant pattern of behavior wreaking some form of physical/emotional/mental havoc/mayhem on people around it. (The evil may be just words on a page, not a human agent, and I tend to isolate the evil from the human being manifesting it. I try to judge the act, not the person.) I am still always conflicted on how best to deal with evil when it confronts me, but I try and keep foremost in my mind that it isn’t about me and it’s not how much we understand, but that we respond in a manner whose outcome will be the most benign/benevolent possible given what awareness our instincts can muster in the moment, or moments, if we are gifted with time to consider our actions.
        That’s about 20% of what sense I was trying to make of my thoughts regarding your post. Yours speaks to me strongly and I thank you for posting it.

    • Doug Wexler

      u are probably about as smart as the piece of dog shit sitting on my kitchen floor right now

      • stormypink

        you should really clean up that dog shit

      • Anotherandomvoice

        The irony of this comment is sad and hilarious.

    • Félix Marqués

      Why the fuck would a teacher ask for people’s opinions if she’s only going to accept one as valid and denounce the rest in front of the classroom? Ughhh.

      • Misty Simmons-Poteet

        I honestly think she was looking to her students for reassurance that none of us were
        capable of such a horrific act of violence. I think my thoughts and questions frightened her.

        Her reaction wasn’t what I consider acceptable, but I understand her fear.

        It was a difficult time for people in the education field. They were dealing with their own questions, one of which, was if one of their own students was also capable of doing something so terrible.

    • sarjé

      Maybe those people that most others think are evil are just seeing things in the darkest shade of grey.
      I can say, in my own, self-directed way, grey has been very near black, many times. It doesn’t mean I’m evil. I contribute and I have a lot to say, if people will listen.
      And so do you, and so do many.

    • Silkfever

      Some of us get it, and some don’t. You have kindred out there. I am one. Empathy has always been a major part of life. No one cries alone, No one suffers alone. I feel it with them. I too was in high school when that happened, and I to was afraid, but I was also empathetic enough to realize that everyone who does evil, is a victim of something, whether it be only circumstance. I believe DNA can only take a person so far, someone maybe predisposed to mental illness, but if they don’t have an experience to activate it, then it never happens. I also believe that someone who has no DNA disposition for evil, can do tremendously evil things. When it comes to the argument of Nature vs Nurture, I truly believe its both, but Nurture is the strongest.

    • Cathy Pack

      I’m sorry you were treated so horribly. hug

    • Esteban

      You lost me at your hyphenated name.

    • Glenn C. Koenig

      Thank you for saying what you felt and I’m sorry you had to take the heat for saying it. The reasons as to why people do things, even horrendous things, are as complicated as we all are.
      I try not to blame, or label anyone as ‘evil.’ (I even make T-Shirts that say “I don’t blame you.” without regard to who might wear one or who might read the message – at
      Sure there are evil acts, in my opinion, and the bombings are an example of an evil act.
      I think about the experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram, which were widely criticized, probably in part because the results he published frightened many people. They thought “there must be something wrong, people wouldn’t really do such things!!” But his results have been shown time and time again. We are more vulnerable to conditions, most of us, than we’d like to think.
      A few years ago, Phillip Zimbardo published a book “The Lucifer Effect” and gave a few lectures (at MIT and Harvard, I think – you can look it up the videos) which explain how this probably comes about.
      Yes, there is mental illness, where the mind cooks up its own peculiar brand of logic, which appears totally illogical to the rest of us. But the rest of us are strangely vulnerable to a ‘logic’ that has never occurred to us most of the time.

  • Alicia

    Thank you. That’s all I can say. Thank you for being who you are.

  • Jess

    I wasn’t surprised at all by the angry comments. Those of us who want to understand why these brothers, who spent years as happy American citizens/legal residents (so we hear from friends and family), would do something so base. Wanting to understand should not be equated with sympathy; I don’t think Amanda was offering the boy her sympathy. All she did was write a poem to deal with her city’s tragedy. Unfortunately, anything short of calling for the quick execution of justice for this 19 year old is viewed as insensitive to the victims.

  • JimGoad

    Throughout this post, you left out the “f” in “fart.”

  • trueBostonian

    Did you really?!? Yes, you posted what you call a “poem” that you admit writing in nine minutes which you describe as conflating your own bourgeoise experiences with those of a teenaged, Chechnyan refugee and suspected terrorist bomber. That’s obvious. But your utter inability to describe anything but your own experience while purporting to somehow be speaking for the broken human soul at the heart of the recent tragedy? That’s maddening. And to call your drivel poetry (& now align it with National Poetry Month)? Nauseating.

    You conveniently accuse your detractors of hate, but you hurt and offend. You usurp Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s singular experience, and the broken-heartedness he caused for so many, to insert into petty ramblings about your life. No, the quotidian details of your day have no relevance to what happened in Boston last week. Only a boundless narcissist could think otherwise. Please, please leave this alone now.

    • James Hoggatt

      As a Russian, I felt almost the same way about him. For wholly different reasons than a denizen of Boston I should feel nothing but hate towards this unknown Chechen (proper spelling of the people of Chechnya), because radicals in Chechnya have done horrific things to my people. However, even after knowing he was Chechen,I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to drive him to this? Ideology, religion, family pressure– what was it that had him give up everything he knew?

      What she wrote was a poem, you may not like it but it does not change its definition.

      If you don’t want to be part of the discussion and you want her to shut up, you can kindly click the little x at the top of your browser.

      • trueBostonian

        Empathy is fine, but what was posted wasn’t that. As I said, the post was not “about” that broken, young man; it was “about” Amanda.

        Unfortunately, Amanda is a public figure. As a media-consumer, I can’t simply will her out of my thoughts. She behaves as if she is well aware of that, and seems constantly to be staging attention-getting ploys. This one was particularly outrageous to me.

        Btw … I’m sure you realize that the Chechnyans have suffered tremendously under the USSR and now Russia. That may inform your attempt to understand (but not excuse) young Dzhokhar’s actions.

    • wilder125

      I write mine in less than 2 when, after a bout of insomnia and a serving of decongestants complete with snot blowing out my nose, I randomly come up with something and type it out.

    • Paula Mack

      Thank you truebostonian.

    • Hannah Schuetz

      but everyone has their own reaction…is hers invalid just because her blog has a following? All the people in boston who were stuck in their homes had an experience, and i’m sure many of those were less than self-sacrificing. how many people were thinking “any house but ours?” how many were relieved after the bombing when the dead were not their children? Humanity has an UGLY SIDE, there’s no point denying it.

      reflecting on the experience is I think much better than some of rhetoric i’ve heard about the suspect. “we give him refuge, and he turns around and does this? BASTARD!” I think those kind of comments are far more self-centered.

  • Julianna Zdunich

    i think one of the most frightening things to come out of this kind of tragedy is the amount of knee-jerk hatred directed at anyone who does not toe the line, whatever the particular line is. it can leave you feeling isolated in the midst of a crowd of people going about their daily lives. what helped me is reading the quote of fred rogers (mr. roger’s neighborhood) about looking for the helpers in any catastrophe, because they are always there. and then a little later, someone posted about the good people outweighing the bad. i think this is true, hard to see sometimes when in the midst of a shitstorm – because, let’s face it, the people with their feelings closest to the surface, both good and bad, are going to be the ones to respond – and the people with the most fear and anger are going to be the ones who get the most worked up and noisiest.. when our youngest child was hanging on to his life in the nicu, we learned to ignore the swoops – the great moments when it looked like he was recovering & the horrible moments when it looked like he was going to die at any moment, instead, we learned to see which way he was “trending” and over some time, we could see that the trend was heading in the right direction – that is what we clung to. (that and knowing that we wanted to be there with him to the end if necessary). as a society, we have some very good trendings going on – less and less people are scared by gay people for instance. i try to take a step back from all the fuss & see objectively the good things. hard to do, but they are there and hopefully, growing. you and neil both contribute to that, as does everyone who works towards openness & beauty & knowledge. i’m glad that you are ok, we did wonder if you were in boston at the time. cheers to everyone who was there.

    • lentower


      Thank You.

  • betsi krisniski

    First off, THANK YOU Amanda for discussing empathy vs. sympathy. Vital lesson.

    I think the fear of open empathy is the fear of offending – offending a large group of people that have already been offended by something else. All of a sudden an “insider” is turning on them.

  • Dorian David Leigh

    Arms open crying.
    Didn’t know and do not what to say or do
    Shared the Dresden Dolls with a friend
    For her birthday
    (Which is happening anyway, as birthdays always do)
    And she discovered a new thing that she loves.
    People discover new things that they love all the time.
    People are born every day.

  • 1st_number_1

    I just took a big steaming dump. It’s art though, cuz I say it is. It took 10 minutes to accomplish, and I did it. And it’s controversial, cuz I did it on the sidewalk. The neighbors are angry, and that’s good cuz art is supposed to be provocative. How often do average citizens argue about art? This has been educational for all involved. Now hit that donate button and buy my stuff!

    • twofor

      …You genuinely didn’t read her post, did you? Poor starving troll.

  • Awanthi Vardaraj

    When the Sandy Hook school shootings happened, I wrote a blog post about children being more important than guns. Later I mentioned that I considered Adam Lanza to also be one of the victims of that tragedy. When I read Lanza’s life story, I was filled with compassion. He was so desperately in need of help and support that he never got. I felt a sense of his life being hijacked away from him and it filled me with sorrow that he had gone on to hijack so many other lives. The entire thing filled me with sorrow.

    When I mentioned this to my friends, they, because they are so infinitely awesome, understood where I was coming from. Empathy makes us human, and being human is not a bad thing.

    • Jess

      Very well said. It is harder to feel only hate towards the perpetrators of these horrific crimes when they start to look like us.

    • trix

      Yes…absolutely. It always bothered me that when the media (and friends and such) spoke of the lives lost at Sandy Hook, no one ever counted Adam Lanza or his mother. Where was the empathy there? Nowhere.

  • Tracey

    Amanda, I think you’re such an awesome person. I knew about your music but didn’t really listen to it. I saw your TED Talk and I’ve been a fan ever since. I will continue to be a fan. I looked at that poem you wrote and it actually moved me to tears. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep loving and caring. You make us better people with your thoughts. “Empathy” is a big deal and there’s not enough of it.
    Thanks again!

    • Guest

      Ah, so you’re just a troll. Way to make any serious point you made lose all credibility.

  • Tori

    I just want you to know, in the face of all these cruel comments, I love you Amanda.

    • Tom

      Female announcer: Don’t you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for stopping!
      Male announcer: Listen Betty, don’t start up with your white zone shit again.

  • AxlReznor

    To all those who do take offense to this for whatever reason, please remember… tragedy has ALWAYS inspired are. Some of it is great, others not so great, but if you try to stifle it just because it makes you uncomfortable, then you are preventing the freedom of expression that is at the core of our culture (I’m from the UK, but that’s one part of our culture that’s almost identical).

    As for narcissism? I think there has to be a fair amount of that in everyone who puts themselves out there and says “I have something to say about this subject!”, so artists are all narcissistic… at least the ones who have any hope of being relevant.

    • Klementine Sander

      Hear, hear!
      Of course tragedy will inspire art, because arguably the best art is produced by strong feelings/emotions, and of course grief and shock and all the other emotions associated with tragedies are incredibly strong.
      And basically any successful artist has to be a little bit narcissistic, enough to think that maybe other people would value their creative endeavours, and really, if people do appreciate the artist’s work, it isn’t such a bad thing. In my opinion.

    • AxlReznor

      Wow… what a stupid type. I of course meant that it inspired “art” of course… not “are”

    • AxlReznor

      Wow… what a stupid type. I of course meant that it inspired “art” of course… not “are”

    • Koriously

      “I have something to say about this subject!” Since you are from the UK that reminded me of death from Monty Pythons Meaning of life when he tells the American “You Murikans, you’re all so pompous, with your ‘let me tell you about
      this’ and ‘I just wanna say that’ … well, you’re dead now, so SHUT

  • Sirainia

    So poignant; I will post this.

  • mrs c

    So, I finally read your poem. And after reading your blog entries (and various associated comments), I just feel sad :(
    I can’t even write and explain exactly what I mean, but …. it makes me so upset that we judge everyone so much, when our own lives and behaviours and outcomes depend so much on circumstance.
    Who knows how I would have have turned out, if I had been born in a different time and place? I might have been an evil, mass-murdering secretary. Or I might have been a boring psychopath. Or a grocer. Or whatever – it doesn’t really matter what or who.
    Instead, I am incredibly privileged to have to been brought up in a loving family in a country with a stable government, with a strong sense of who I am, and a relatively well developed sense of where I belong personally, historically and culturally.
    We should feel empathetic towards those who feel that their lives are not the way they expected or wanted, and who don’t know how to deal with these feelings. People do things for a reason, even if they don’t recognise what that reason is.
    I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s important that we talk about it.
    Thanks for talking about it, AFP x

  • Tami Murray Cline

    The thing about creating, the wonderful thing about creating is that what you create and share will always be interpreted differently from what the creator intended. always. Even when the interpretation is so spot on that it mirrors the artist. These days most things aren’t looked at beyond a quick glance at the surface. It used to be that things put out into the world were thought about, picked over and really thought about again. Thinking is hard, it’s easier to be told what the meaning is straight off. The title of a piece of art, writing, song must must mean what it’s about to most people, not because they aren’t capable of taking the extra step of thinking past it. there are so many things being shoved at us, so many of them that do mean what they seem to be on the surface for easier consumption. Add in a little, no a lot of fear and looking for deeper meanings can be out of the question for those not used to seeing them.

    You are absolutely right Amanda, seeing how people react to art is an apt litmus test. It truly is a scary time when people fear sharing their empathy for those people around them, be they close family or a scared young man who is living the consequences for some very bad, very horrible and horrific decisions and actions.

  • Kristyn McGeehan

    I appreciate how open you are about your process. So often all we ever see of art is the polished, finished, commercialized end result. That stuff can be amazing. Its the best of the best of what we create – edited and refined. But seeing art in its visceral, reactionary state is powerful. For me that poem was hard to read, but in a good way. The jumbled shifts in perspective resonate to me in how I respond to a situation like that, to any tragedy. Jumping between my own reactions, the pull of living, the feelings of the victims, the perpetrators, the rescuers. It all jumbles up while trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.

    I’ve always enjoyed your work, but your latest work has really hit a chord. It makes me want to create (I’m a choreographer) and that’s the highest praise I can give. So thank you. For your music, your words, and your honesty.

  • Annonymous

    People are weird. The poem is a way to cope with how she felt during the entire tragedy. I don’t understand what is getting everybody so upset. Next time you’re having some trouble try writing about it. It’s actually very cathartic.

    • Bob

      Love poems for terrorists? Now I have read everything.

  • Thorlakur Ludviksson

    About the shift towards fear, I find Norway’s Prime Minister Stoltenberg’s response to the Utoya massacre on 2011 to be beautiful:

    Stoltenberg further vowed that the attack would not hurt Norwegian democracy, and said the proper answer to the violence was “more democracy, more openness, but not naivety”. In his speech at the memorial service on 24 July 2011, he opined what would be a proper reaction: “No one has said it better than the AUF girl who was interviewed by CNN: ‘If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we could show, standing together.

    (from Wikipedia:

  • Alex Krislov

    I was bemused by the “wrath of the internet” effect the poem aroused. Reminded me of the kerfluffle over Evelyn Evelyn. If that many people responded with poetry, you’ve contributed more to the form than something more carefully composed might have drawn. No one is going to list it in “the best of AFP,” but art demands a reaction. You got lots.

  • Sylvia

    empathy. i’m feeling a lot of it towards you right now.

    i think the most important lesson my parents ever taught me was to always attempt to see things from the other person’s point of view. sometimes it’s easy for me when others find it hard. sometimes it’s hard for me when i think it should be easy. sometimes i don’t try. sometimes i say: not you.

    it’s hard to work out. i can’t find it in me to even try to understand how the steubenville rapists are feeling now. i know they are also teenagers who did something terrible. but i think too much of the world is still trying to defend them. no one is trying to defend dzhokar so it seems safe to think of plausible motivations, emotions, without the fear that anyone will use these to justify him.

    so my empathy is dependent on whether i am sure the rest of the world is sure that the act was wrong.

  • twofor

    I’m continually surprised and impressed by the community of people – thoughtful, respectful, kind people – that have gathered here. And I really wish others would just open their eyes a bit more.

  • Anon

    I found out via a friend who I went to Berklee with back in 2004 that your poem had started a shitstorm. Even she, who was in a riot girl band, was tsking at you and your poem. I didn’t understand why, as a fan since 2005, she and so many of my other former-punk rock friends would be hating so hard all of a sudden. And I realized, sadly, that they had very clearly mis-read your poem. They didn’t realize, because they haven’t been keeping up with your blog daily like I do, that this poem wasn’t just about this poor boy, it was also about you and how you felt when you found out that YOUR town, like us, had been torn to shreds. And I immediately felt sorry for my former friends, because they had clearly grown up into the adults that we said we’d never be. Adults who immediately judge and put down, instead of trying to understand and research what the fuck they’re talking about. I’m sorry that our town has turned on you. I think you’re wonderful and when I got to go to the rehearsal of the EvelynEvelyn tour in Lexington, I knew that we were lifelong soul sisters, whether you knew it or not. I knew it that first time I met you at one of my so-called friends shows at TT the bears almost a decade ago. Thanks for being you, thanks for not deleting your poem. It’s something those so-called friends of mine would have done, because they are cowards. It’s really sad, but your blog always makes me feel better, knowing I’m not so alone in the fight. Thanks for everything.

  • Anne

    Dear Amanda. Dear Bostonians.
    I read your poem the other day and didn’t really get all of it, to be honest. But after reading your blogpost I have a deeper understanding of it that resonates with my heart. Almost two years ago my city, Oslo, was bombed and many died. I think the Norwegian people showed the world a new way of dealing with terrorism then, with more love and more democracy. We gave the terrorist a fair trial in accordance with our legal system and he was sentenced to 18 to life. I know this way of dealing with a horrific act stunned many. Many thought the terrorist deserved a death sentence, which we thankfully don’t have, and many believes he will be let into society again, which surely he won’t.
    Not all the wonderful words and promises that were made has come true, and the newspaper are filled with discussions on more safety precautions and anti-terrorism laws. But I’m certain the key to our, the Norwegian people, reaction was empathy. We pride ourselves on being one of the countries in the world where most people volunteer, and we do it across socio-economic standing and city borders. All this volunteering makes us meet more strangers, more people unlike us, and learn to respect our differences. We learn that different lives leads to different choices and even though this doesn’t make us a nation of saints, it has created a society where social mobility and equality has a good foundation.
    I’m not going to say anything about the American society. I’m not American and will never fully understand your culture, even though I have the opportunity to watch “Honey Boo Boo” if I want to. But throughout the trial of the terrorist in Norway i found some empathy for him. I don’t understand his actions and I disagree with everything he believes in, I lost a friend and several other friends are traumatized, but still…
    To repeat what a young girls said almost two years ago in Oslo: If one man is capable of so much hate, think about how much love everyone can show!

    • Hannah Schuetz

      I’ll say that with you! “If one man is capable of so much hate, think about how much love everyone can show!”

    • sarjé

      Let us love one another, more than anything else.

  • Brandy Lynn

    I loved your poem, because I understood it. It was never “for dzhokar”. It wasn’t a poem about “poor dzhokar”. It’s a poem about, maybe if he’d just read this poem, he wouldn’t have blown shit up. Jesus, who said that? It’s just about life–the overwhelmingness of it. The not knowing how to respond. Not understanding how people can hurt people like that. The vast amount of love and empathy inside all of us. The terror we all feel, the lostness, the ache.

    Anyway, fuck everybody else. They just don’t know how to handle something so raw. It’s almost radioactive. I mysef often find that if I don’t like something, it’s because it challenges me–I don’t understand it, or I want to. It reminds me of once when I read his book “A Prayer For the Dying”. It’s about an entire village dying of dyptheria, then the survivors are killed by a prairie fire, including the narrator. When I was done, I was so mad I threw it against the wall. I was like, why did I waste all that time reading something like that? It seemed like an utterly pointless study of absolute misery. Then I realized that that was just life. Sometimes you survive an epidemic only to be killed by something entirely different. Nothing in life is certain; it is precious, so hold on to what you have for now. It could be gone tomorrow.

    Your whole life has been nothing but bad press, being a hairy-armpitted, feminist, punk-cabaret musician–but that is what makes you so popular with the people who do get it. So brush aside these horrible comments, soldier through the death threats–seriously, who the fuck threatened you with death, tell them I can make threats on the internet too–and forget about them, but always remember the explosive range of responses that the idea of empathy brings out in some people.

    • Maleficent

      “Fuck everybody else” – what an empathetic reaction!

  • Alex_L_H

    How dare she externalize her thoughts, how dare she show sadness and empathy that a 19 year old kid, and at 19 you are still a kid, even at 35 I get that, if you don’t I feel sorry for you, had gotten so screwed up as to be a part of something like this, how dare she draw attention to the needless death of another child at the hands of bullying (which is what you are all engaged in now), how dare she share her pain on the death of her friend, how dare she go to kickstarter to ask for donations, how dare she ask her fans to help out at gigs, the crux of a lot of this spouting hatred.. HOW DARE SHE EXIST?!.. well she does, and she isn’t going anywhere, and for that I’m glad.

    • robin stevenson


    • WordClownsIncorporated

      How melodramatic are you going to get is what the rest of us would like to know… Sheish!

    • Esteban

      Oh the humanity

  • caught-22

    My thoughts on the concept of empathy, which is so important to this conversation. Empathy is — almost by definition — the process of seeing yourself reflected in another person. You see their pain and you have the capability to imagine what that pain would be like were you in their shoes. Which is wonderful, and how people relate to each other, but ultimately, you are not feeling someone else’s pain, you are feeling your own.

    In this theory of moral sentiments (one of my favorite books ever) Adam Smith discusses how the less one shows of their own emotion, the more people will empathize, because it is the more that they can project onto you. Right now Dzhokhar is that blank slate whose emotions we can only glimpse, and because of that there is nothing to break the empathy with him. But remember, what you see in him and what is there are not the same things. We will not understand anything about HIM by writing poems, we will only understand things about ourselves. (Which I consider equally valid, but is an entirely different place to be, and it’s wrong to assume we’re elsewhere.)


    On a completely unrelated note, I think you may want to consider retitling the poem. The internet is rife with people who feel worse for this suspect than any of his victims, and the title might ring a cord like that in some people. A poem should need no defense or explanation, it should need a bit of revision to say what you want to say and say it right — revision doesn’t make anything less authentic, it makes it more real.

  • K

    Can we even wait for the dead to be buried? Is that too much to ask?

    • Brandon Armstrong

      This is the basic principal behind everything I’ve said today. It was insensitive. Maybe Amanda doesn’t care about being sensitive to people’s feelings, but then she should be well-prepared for and expectant of shit storms like the one she’s in the middle of right now.

      • luci_fer

        …Why? Did news aggregates and sites get hold of this or something?

        Because generally if people upload a poem about their feelings to their own blogs they don’t expect a shit storm. (disagreement and discussion, yes, but not the same thing). It seems like when there’s a shit storm they’ve been directed in from elsewhere.

  • Amanda Dascoulias

    People will hate and people will love, keep doing what you do Amanda and never give in to the naysayers.

  • Obi Geschirrspüler

    I didn’t want to comment how much i really loved your poem or not poem, i have a feeling about how’re you. And when i read it two days ago i said wow, just amazing, then a lot of people started to get mad about it, and i said myself, i’m sure they only read the name and didn’t read it all. Maybe they don’t know your art, your passion about music and life. A week ago i dreamt with you and with my best girlfriend, we were in Berlin in a concert and i hope that dream come truth next November. I love you because you move something deep inside my heart, my soul, my mind. It’s not just good music, is something more, something special, something unique. Thanks for doing what you do, for being like you’re.

  • Hollow Mind

    I think sometimes people don’t quite process with the thinking part of our brains. I took your words at face value without looking for a deeper subtext until I had time to process it for myself. Only then did I understand and share it on facebook and tumblr.

    Words are only words, context and our understanding are what makes interpretation possible.

    Thanks again and best of luck in your future!

  • Ellie

    Anybody complaining about the poem, especially those who claim it is self-centred need to be reminded that there are thousands of more horrific things going on in the world on a day to day basis. Worse than the poem and (dare I say it?) worse than the actual events in Boston. So bitching and whining about one simple poem just shows a much more serious self involvement! In no way am I trying to play down what has happened over the last week but just realise there are more important things to fight for and against than whether a poem is offensive or not. Be thankful that you have the ability to speak your mind without the risk of arrest or worse. Just use that ability for better goals
    As Amanda said:
    “the moment you choose to be empathetic only towards your family, only towards your friends, only towards your immediate neighbors, only the people who look like you, or think like you…
    that is the moment you fail to see that we are all connected”
    Love everybody.

    • K

      “‘Quit bitching and whining’ because things are worse elsewhere.” So we should have empathy for everyone except for those who disagree with Amanda. Got it.

      • Ellie

        Not sure where you got that from. I didn’t even specify whether or not I agreed with the poem because that was irrelevant to my point. Just don’t waste your time getting angry and offensive about a poem when you could be getting angry and motivated about more important things. The only people making this about Amanda are the people who are complaining about it.

        Like I said, love everybody.

        • AxlReznor

          Whereas I’m not one of the people who were offended by it, I disagree that people shouldn’t voice their opinions because “worse things are happening”.
          This always comes up, and I always reply with… “what? So people are only allowed to dislike one thing at a time, and it absolutely has to be the worst thing possible?” Sorry, but no… I disagree with people saying it’s a publicity stunt/insensitive, etc., but that doesn’t mean people should shut up about it just because there’s a war in Syria, etc.

          • Ellie

            I was mainly aiming my thoughts at the people being offensive about it. Opinions are important and everybody needs to be able to think for themselves but when it comes down to insulting an individual for a piece of art then something has really gone wrong. Discuss thoughts and feelings but there’s no need for it to turn in to such a witch hunt. That’s the energy that needs to be redirected more constructively.

          • AxlReznor

            Well in that case, I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, this is the internet, where people think words typed on a computer have no effect on real people. (Ironic, considering what it is they’re bitching about).

  • Cindy

    I started to write a comment yesterday, basically telling a story about ‘my’ Friday evening experience. Some of it read…

    Like most of America, I was glued to the television Friday. Late that night, around the time they found him, but had not captured him, I had a strange feeling. It scared me. I looked into the eyes of the young man on my screen and my heart started to ache. So young. About the same age as my youngest child. I was ashamed of these thoughts. I thought, “please don’t kill yourself,” then “how could you do that,” then “please be alive” then “you’re a monster.” I went back and forth with myself. Nobody else was home.

    I stopped there. I was afraid. I was scared to say it ‘out loud.’ I deleted it.

    I agree with you Amanda–that if we are afraid to express empathy–if we’re afraid to say it out loud–where are we as a society and as human beings? Yes he should be held accountable, yes what he did is unforgivable, yes I am completely heart broken for everyone this event has touched, yes I cry every time I see Martin’s picture holding the sign that reads “no more hurting people.” YES, there is a small part of me that is very sad for that boy (murderer) who lies in a Beth Israel Hospital hospital bed, sedated, wounded, perhaps not fully grasping the enormity of what he has done.

  • vixEo

    Glad you posted about this. I recently made a comment on facebook that did not sit well with some of my friends. I was being forced to watch the news that had commandeered my regularly scheduled programming on the night of the boat shoot out, and was frustrated, jaded, thinking about how this man is just a piece of a larger puzzle, and questioning “what is justice?” in this scenario, all things considered. I started thinking about how everyone was literally celebrating his capture like some huge victory, when, even if he is taken out of this world today, there are thousands, if not millions of people like him out there, just waiting to spring out of the woodwork. I am kind of reflecting on what you said about fear right now – but a few days ago, I was having this moment, and all of a sudden it hit me that this guy that everyone is turning into an internet meme with big block letters that said “GOT HIM!” over his picture is just 19 years old! I thought about everything that I didn’t know when I was 19 years old, and wondered how this person, who was so young, was convinced to commit such unspeakable acts – dogma? I started to think a little bit about his parents, and his upbringing, and questioning the etiology that would make someone do such a thing. I had this moment in which I was washed with incredible amounts of empathy, and to some of my friends it came across as “sympathy”. In light of their disapproval, momentarily, I actually felt ashamed. I considered deleting my comments, and getting rid of the entire post, until someone assured me that the discussion had been an interesting and intelligent read, and I shouldn’t censor myself.

    • K

      Actually, there’s a reason you felt like you shouldn’t say something – because there’s such a thing as respecting the dead who are not yet buried, and respecting those still in the hospital with blown-off limbs. It’s called keeping your thoughts to yourself until it’s not hurtful and insensitive to blurt them out. Just because you think it does not mean you have to share it with the whole world. This is what the people defending this ‘poem’ either weren’t taught or refuse to understand.

      • vixEo

        When I lived on a military base in Saudi Arabia in 1996, and experienced a terrorist attack, first hand that killed 7 of my close neighbors, the nice Pakistani man who sold sandwiches to us kids in the cafeteria, and left dozens injured, no one knew how to express themselves appropriately. It was like one day, my dad’s office building was blown up, and the next day we are all eating fried chicken at the rec center and moving on with our lives as best as possible. One kid was so scared he called in a bomb threat to our international school and was caught and deported from the country. The only way to make ourselves FEEL somewhat NORMAL was to express something, even if we didn’t quite know what to say or how to act. Some kids were even making crude and insensitive jokes, as a means of trying to deal with the tragedy that we had all just experienced together. The gravity of the situation had not really sunk in for everyone, and I am not sure if our brains are even capable of ever letting us fully experience how close we came to loss and death.

        I imagine a lot of the Bostonians are feeling that way right now, stuck in that place between shock and terror without even acknowledging the turmoil of feelings that they are going through, because there are no words to describe such a sensation. Many of them are probably wondering the exact same things I was pondering in my facebook, because pondering and thinking is all you can do when something hits you so close to home and you are powerless to stop it. In situations like these, you cannot learn to adjust without expressing yourself. I was not being disrespectful, and won’t apologize for having feelings.

        • K

          Have you never heard of a diary? A little book where you write your stuff down. And keep it to yourself.

          • vixEo

            Have you heard of a blog? Who’s to say what is the appropriate way for one to write down one’s feelings. You are a troll.

          • K

            What part of “public” do you not understand? A diary is private, a blog is public. If you expressing yourself stomps all over the feelings of bombing victims who lost limbs and family members, guess what: it’s not appropriate to say it where they can hear/read. I cannot believe I’m being called a troll for saying something that every 5-year-old should know.

          • vixEo

            I can! I guess you missed the part about your personal code not dictating how other people express themselves. Guess what? Not everyone is the same. You are always going to be disappointed if you continue impose what your personal belief system on others.

  • Jan De Zitter (Belgium)

    We are all connected, indeed. The blog from AManda reminds me of a quote I will never forget. I don’t know who said it, but I use it very often.
    ‘EVIL is the abscence of empathy’

    • Anamorphosis

      I know this is a left turn. However, I had to pause on this and think about it. Evil. Is evil really the absence of empathy? It is true that there are some people, who, for whatever reason, cannot connect with empathy. It can either result from a hardware problem, to put it in easy computer terms, or a software problem. Nature/ nurture. You get the picture. Some people with the hardware/software problem do choose to commit horrific acts. Some do this just to see. Some, because they want to for the excitement. Some, because they really don’t care about the damage they cause in order to get what they want. Often, with these folk, there is a combination. But to stop at that is to stop too short. Some people have the software/hardware issues and they do not harm. Or at least, they don’t intend to and when they do it is by accident, like most of us who have the empathy all wired in. Some types with aspergers (not all) can be like this. Some types of schizoid personality disorder (not all) can also be like this. Empathy is confusing for them. But that doesn’t mean they want to hurt people. Now, to take things a step further, terrible acts are often done by people who don’t know what else to do. Take the classic Milgram Experiment. Regular people, – you and I and the neighbor down the street, capable of horrific acts because they don’t know what else to do, they aren’t sure what is right, they don’t know how to say no, they don’t understand how to walk away. And so, to the best of their knowledge, they electrocute someone to the point of torture and possible death. And we see this played out over and over again outside of the lab in our world, from young kids who join terrorist groups to some terrifying military acts that have been committed all over the globe at some point or other. Evil, to me, is a rather muddy subject that I wish were simple. However, I am not always sure simplicity exists.

  • Facepalm

    i am definitely going to resist the urge to publish a book entitled “a slim volume of anti-amanda-palmer verse written during national poetry month”.
    Good, because that would be theft.

    but seriously…it’s tempting. some of the hate poems were REALLY GOOD.
    And they’re also not yours to publish.

    I eagerly await your next installment, wherein you will presumably do a little dance about the blog post about the poem about the events, and how all these made you feel. You, you, you.

    • Sylvia

      Well, to be fair, on my blog I have a tendency to talk about me. As do other people, presumably, on their blogs. About themselves, and their feelings, and how they’re dealing with things. It’s basically what blogs are for: informing other people of our thoughts and/or actions.

      And I’m about 100% sure that the idea of publishing the poems was a joke.

      • robin stevenson

        almost exactly what i was saying….synchronicity

    • robin stevenson

      It’s a blog… people write about themselves and what interests them on blogs……it is what they are for….it would be a very strange blog if it were about someone else entirely, yet going into details about their life and thoughts and experiences…..

    • miserichik

      It’s HER blog, you neanderthal. What, did you want her to talk about YOU in her blog? Why not get your own blog?

      ARRRRGHGHHHH I’m so sick of this. I’m not coming back until we stop allowing trolls to piss us off.

  • Tasha

    I’m really happy you followed-up on the response to your poem. But one thing: can you misinterpret art?

  • Cheryl Malcom

    Thank you!

  • Klementine Sander

    I didn’t read the comments on your poem. I had no time, I had things to do for once. I am glad I didn’t read the hurtful comments, after reading this blog’s comments, and marveling at people’s…ability to dislike something I found so innocuous. I didn’t adore your poem, not like I love some of your songs – maybe because at the moment our circumstances and perspectives are so different when addressing issues like these bombings. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t find it relevant, or that I thought it was bad – just, I didn’t love it as wholeheartedly as other writing. I’m not good at expressing myself, sorry.

    I can’t believe how people have responded negatively to and apparently been genuinely insulted or offended by what I saw as a harmless expression of your emotions, published partially out of a selfish (also known as human) desire for comfort and reassurance from your audience/community, but also to show said community that they are not alone. To me, the poem was more about trusting your fans, and remembering people’s humanity, then about ‘projecting your own feelings onto the bomber’, to paraphrase a negative comment I read about it.

    …..regardless of why you wrote it, thank you for this blog post, which to my mind is more helpful and empathetic and thought-provoking than the poem itself. It’s so true, a world in which we don’t feel empathy for everyone, at least a little, is a frightening place.

  • K

    .For a blog entry so obsessed with empathy, this whole thing has been stunningly insensitive.

  • Chris Noble

    I didn’t see if this had been mentioned (because it’s early, and I can’t slog through INTERNETRAGE!!1! today, I haven’t the stomach) but it reminds me of the reaction to Steve Earle’s “John Walker’s Blues”. I know that this sort of rage-filled reaction is nothing new, but it tires me the hell out. You have much more patience than I.

  • Kent Cordray

    As someone living in the relative international obscurity and lack of cosmopolitan-connection of mid-to-small towns in middle-America, I often feel disconnected from events beyond the region I live in. When Columbine happened I was in High School and it seemed like a story from another country. Same with Oklahoma City(which is only a state away), 9/11, and all the terrible things that have happened since. I’m sure it’s not this way for everyone around here but almost anything I see on TV feels fake to me.

    It’s very surreal and often seems unreal. And it remained that way until the Japanese tsunami and meltdown when I heard about the Tsunami on AFP’s Twitter feed about the same time it actually hit. Seeing it on the news makes it seem like a tragic movie. Reading people’s actual, real responses; finding out about the amazing things people do to help; and seeing the amazing, and terrifying, and human reality presented through art(photographs, paintings, poetry, music, etc): these are the things that have made the outside world emotionally impactful to me.

    It has made me a more human person.

    Lately I’ve been disconnected from the internet so this thing in Boston seemed like a movie again. I missed what I get from you and others I’ve met on Twitter. Today I finally get online time and here I am, crying in public, so thankful for the beauty and love and anger(which sometimes also comes from love) and the amazingness of all you people out there who can read this. Thanks to Amanda, but also thank you, everyone who’s commented and tweeted and felt-out-loud.

    You all help make humanity real in the most surreal and terrible times.

  • Sarah

    I’ve never left a comment on here before, but as a long time follower of your blog, and as a person who has been continually inspired by your posts, I want to say thank you. Thanks for choosing to open and create when the world is hard instead of close down and judge. The later is certainly easier, but the older I get the more I find the world is what it is because of what we all add to it, not because of what it has done to us. Thanks again for the inspiration. <3

  • Tory Young

    I didn’t necessarily agree with your posting of the poem the first couple of times I read it. I thought it was in bad taste, but not enough to attack you personally for it or get angry as some people did. I did, however, think it was a beautifully written poem, and now reading it again through the lens of this blog, I finally think I understand it. There is Dzhokhar in this poem, but there is also so much Amanda, and seeing that really made me feel something that I don’t think I can articulate. It’s not quite sadness and it’s not quite empathy and it’s not quite sympathy, because I don’t think I can understand what either of you have been through in any fashion. I’ve never bombed, I didn’t have to deal with the aftermath of the bombing. But I can definitely appreciate the poem now, and I think this was a beautiful blog. I just wish it wasn’t a NECESSARY blog. Nobody should ever need to justify their art because some who misinterpret it decide to be hateful. It’s art, and it’s your art that you decided to share with us, and you shouldn’t have to be responsible for making people understand your art.

  • seasicksarah

    After being a decade+ fan and supporter of Amanda both as a musician, artist and person, nothing about this “controversy” has changed my opinion. Not one news source ‘reporting’ on this is showing the context of the poem. If it would have had a different name, no one would have cared. But even the title doesn’t make this worthy of the uproar its caused. The reply blog was excellent, but its so unfortunate that it had to be written. Its so much easier to jump to outrage, hate and ignorance rather than to take the time to research and understand. The point is these “monsters” are humans… they have families, friends, neighbors, etc… instead of the traditional ‘out for blood’ knee-jerk reaction, we need to figure out why this happened, and realize it could happen to just about anyone. Should we be disgusted/angry/saddened with dzhokhar and his acts of violence? of course… But should we demonize him and act like hes less than human? absolutely not. Humans are capable of wonderful, beneficial and amazing things. They are also capable of hate, atrocities and creating misery for many. In some ways we’re all monsters…

  • Mike Jackson

    Don’t let the bastards get you down Amanda.

  • Agnes

    I believe that the poem has value as your personal reaction to the situation, but that does not necessarily make it a good poem. While I don’t believe that you were trying to profit from the immediacy of the news, and I take your point that it is never “too soon” to share how you are feeling with a community that supports you, it seems a bit disingenuous to think that the poem wouldn’t find its way to other readers, particularly with your many previous experiences with internet outrage. Does it mean you shouldn’t have done it? No…but you also shouldn’t be surprised. I think an idea like artistic intention gets more complicated within the space of a blog like yours; the poem isn’t exactly severed from its context, and so while I don’t condone the severity of some of the comments being hurled at you, I do see why some people would think it’s “about you.” You always present yourself as part of the context. Just because that context becomes the response does not mean it originated from nothing.

    The poem is a success for you because it registered your immediate feelings and emotions about a place you have clearly identified with for so long. A more complex poem might have done something different. In any case, the poem I see written between the lines of this one isn’t about empathy. It’s simply about “not knowing”—about who is in our midst, about our unwillingness to find out until we’re told. I think emotions like rage, hate, fear, and uncertainty should not be endpoints, but can often be very valid transitional stages, as long as there is no harm done.

  • Anna Cassidy Nickel

    Beautifully said. (And the poem is lovely.)

    I always do wonder, what could drive someone to do such awful things? There are so few people in the world who are truly, legitimately, irredeemably evil (there are some, but so very few). And yet people–not just the truly evil–commit evil acts. They do unconscionable things. They ruin not only their own lives, but (admittedly, perhaps more importantly) those of others, and that just never made sense to me. I’ll admit I can be reactionary towards these people initially, but then I actually have time to think about it, and I just get…

    Well. Sad. Empathetic, yes, and very, very sad.

    I have to say, though. One of the few positive things that happened in the wake of the terrible tragedy that was (is?) the Boston marathon bombing was the MASSIVE outpouring of kindness, of GOOD. Of people donating their time, their money, their blood.

    Maybe we, as a planet, should focus more on all the love there is in the world than the evil. It would make the world a better place.

    (This went a bit off-topic, but I think you understand, right?)

  • Kaii

    After all the other crap I’ve been reading, I’m so glad that someone posted about having empathy for the perpetrators too. Even better that it’s Amanda Palmer. <3

  • dtb

    I didn’t like the poem. I hated your response to the backlash. And I hate your retort above. I
    understand that empathy is important. I really do, but your poem hurt a
    lot of people directly affected by the bombing, and when they voiced
    their pain, you insulted them and told them that they didn’t ‘understand’
    your poem or your ‘art’. Everyone who didn’t like your poem suddenly became a “hater”
    who was “trapped in fear”. And we aren’t. A lot of us still have a basic
    understanding of human dignity and why we shouldn’t dehumanized those
    who cause this level of damage and suffering, but some of us “get” what
    you were trying to do, and still don’t agree with it or how you went
    about it. Every time you step on someone’s foot you turn it into a new
    zeitgeist so you don’t have to apologize and people are starting to
    catch on. Fuck you Amanda for no apologizing.

    • Eat a cookie, smear chocolate

      Which Amanda. The real one, or the fakes choosing to “pick a name” using her name

    • AxlReznor

      I dunno about anyone else, but I’ve yet to see any comment from anyone who was DIRECTLY affected by the bombing (ie – family of one of the victims, etc.). Only people who are assuming that it would bother them.

      • Marionette26

        Before this got completely out of control, I distinctly remember one guy who was directly affected in a peripheral way. He was friends with a family who had lost someone in the bombing. He was incredibly upset, angry, and offended – this did bother him a lot. He found it disrespectful to the victims – he repeatedly said that it was like spitting in their faces. He was close enough to the damage to count as being directly affected.

        • AxlReznor

          Fair enough.

        • anon

          Amanda is a psychic vampire and she feeds on this kind of trolling. I’m over it.

      • Kevin Scott

        I wasn’t directly involved with the Holocaust, but it bothers me.

        • AxlReznor

          That isn’t what I meant, and you know it. Someone said that she hurt “many people” who were directly involved. I just stated that I hadn’t seen any actually comment on it. Evidently someone has… fair enough.

    • Christ Why

      It is very easy for anyone here to type “Amanda Palmer” into the “pick a name” box. You need to make sure what you’re looking at is the actual real Amanda Palmer.

      • Marionette26

        It’s really easy to see who the real Amanda is – they have her profile picture and it says mod by her name. And she has been saying all the the things dtb just mentioned on twitter and in the blog above. I’m not saying I agree with their emotions, but their facts are correct.

      • Esmertina Bicklesnit

        If you “pick a name” your name is grey and not linked. Not hard to identify :)

    • K

      “your poem hurt a
      lot of people directly affected by the bombing, and when they voiced
      their pain, you insulted them and told them that they didn’t ‘understand’
      your poem or your ‘art’. Everyone who didn’t like your poem suddenly became a “hater”
      who was “trapped in fear”. And we aren’t. A lot of us still have a basic
      understanding of human dignity and why we shouldn’t dehumanized those
      who cause this level of damage and suffering, but some of us “get” what
      you were trying to do, and still don’t agree with it or how you went
      about it.”
      Yes, this. I was a fan of yours for a few years, Amanda, but it’s over. It’s too much damn work to be your fan. Anyone who has a valid criticism – which, hello, why put controversial creative work into the public if you don’t want criticism – is dismissed and belittled. I’m tired of supporting and supporting only to be insulted by you and your cult of personality as just being Too Stupid and Small-Minded and Hateful the second I fail to exalt as brilliant every word that falls from your fingers. The way you’ve comported yourself over the last 6 months has been so distasteful, so privilege-blind, so myopic and self-absorbed, that I no longer want to be associated in any way with anything you do.

      It’s such a shame, for a while there you were a wonderfully positive influence on my life. Then you just shredded it. Perhaps your fanbase got too big too fast so you’re trying to alienate all but your greatest ass-kissers. If so you’re doing a good job.

      TL/DR: You suck, Palmer.

      • Kimbertron

        Thank you, my feelings.

    • Alicatrine

      Apologize for creating a poem? This attitude discourages people from creating anything at all… It’s why people are scared to speak their mind.

  • Deirdra

    Amanda, I only found you at Tedx so you haven’t been in my world long but I admire you for sharing what comes up from the inside. I sat in sadness at the picture of that young man, hearing family and friends talk about the person they knew and loved, and too wondered how he had gotten to such a sad and lonely place. Even as they were pulling him from the boat I could feel the sadness in my heart at the loss of his sweetness of life, the loss of his youth and inevitability the loss of human kindness in others towards those we believe to be “evil”. We want to blame guns, drugs and all sorts of things for actions like this but in the end it is our society that breeds this kind of action. Where were we for him when he was questioning his beliefs? How did we show him how to react to his feelings? Where is our responsibility to teach peace in a world filled with aggression and our empathy of those that find no other path than that of hatred and control? When our first impulse is to blame, point fingers and judge without ever looking into the whys then we become just as stuck in the mire of fear and hatred as those we look down upon. Thank you for taking the high road and sharing the out pouring of your heart. This is the kind of art our world needs today…something to make us think, something to shake up our beliefs and most of all honesty, even if it is uncomfortable. Empathy. Maybe if we all had more of it we would find the world a more peaceful and loving place where people didn’t always feel the need to hate and condemn so quickly that which they don’t understand or agree with. Again. Thank You and I will keep reading as long as you keep writing. D

  • Véronique

    Can art be misinterpreted? Isn’t interpretation something that we all do when we encounter art? An artist creates some form of communication with intent, but once that communication is unleashed upon the world, then it no longer truly belongs to the artist.

    When I write a song, I know what it means. If someone else thinks it means something else, I can say they misinterpreted it. But perhaps I simply didn’t do as good a job as I should have. Perhaps I didn’t communicate as clearly as I should have. I’m thinking of one particular song I wrote that is clear to me but not so much to others. That’s because they’re not inside my head, in my personal context. And perhaps I didn’t express my thoughts and that context as clearly as I thought I did.

    As a songwriter, it’s up to me to communicate. It’s up to others to decide what they think I meant.

    • AxlReznor

      It is possible to misinterpret art, when you don’t look at it as a whole and just pick out the parts of it that suit your interpretation.
      Like the people who assumed because people were killing rich people in The Dark Knight Rises, it was an anti-Occupy film, instead of just a film that shows killing people as bad no matter how much they have….

  • Ray


  • wilder125

    Well, I guessed right on the last part about New York. You and Neil were leaving Boston during the lockdown to head to New York and the trains weren’t running. So you had to figure out how to get there.

  • Stephanie RaincloudAxberg

    I’m trying to formulate my thoughts on this whole hullabaloo…
    and I have several things I want to say, but first, a little background

    Here is a link to author/ columnist David Wong’s
    article “What is the Monkeysphere?” Go read it.
    Seriously. It’s pretty short.

    TLDR? Here’s an
    excerpt, which sort of sums up the article:

    “The primary
    difference is that monkeys are happy to stay in small groups and rarely
    interact with others outside their monkey gang. This is why they rarely go to
    war, though when they do it is widely thought to be hilarious. Humans, however,
    require cars and oil and quality manufactured goods by the fine folks at 3M and
    Japanese video games and worldwide internets
    and, most importantly, governments. All of these things take groups larger than
    150 people to maintain effectively. Thus, we routinely find ourselves
    functioning in bunches larger than our primate brains are able to cope with.

    This is where the problems begin. Like a fragile naked human
    pyramid, we are simultaneously supporting and resenting each other. We bitch
    out loud about our soul-sucking job as an anonymous face on an assembly line,
    while at the exact same time riding in a car that only an assembly line could
    have produced. It’s a constant contradiction that has left us pissed off and
    joining informal wrestling clubs in basements.” ~ David Wong (Excerpt from “What
    is the Monkeysphere?”)

    The general idea is that, with our ever-so-slightly more
    evolved monkey brains, it’s impossible to conceptualize people outside of our “monkeysphere”
    (the people we know and care about personally), let alone feel for them as
    individual people. Our brains resort to caricatures
    of types of people… “those politicians”, “damn asian drivers”, or (*GASP*) “those evil terrorists”.

    Here is another excerpt from that same article:

    “Think of Osama Bin Laden. Did you just picture a camouflaged man hiding in
    a cave, drawing up suicide missions? Or are you thinking of a man who gets
    hungry and has a favorite food and who had a childhood crush on a girl and who
    has athlete’s foot and chronic headaches and wakes up in the morning with a
    boner and loves

    Something in you, just now, probably was offended by that. You think there’s
    an effort to build sympathy for the murderous fuck. Isn’t it strange how simply
    knowing random human facts about him immediately tugs at your sympathy strings?
    He comes closer to your Monkeysphere, he takes on dimension.

    Now, the cold truth is this Bin Laden is just as desperately in need of a
    bullet to the skull as the raving four-color caricature on some redneck’s
    T-shirt. The key to understanding people like him, though, is realizing that we
    are the caricature on his T-shirt.” ~ David Wong (Excerpt from “What
    is the Monkeysphere?”)

    So a bunch of people are angry and hyped up because Amanda wrote a poem that
    referenced Dzhokhar… a poem that was her attempt to understand and reconcile
    how he fits into HER monkeysphere, and how she feels about it. It makes people infinitely uncomfortable
    because, just by reading her poem and trying to fit it into a framework of
    their own understanding, Dzhokhar has taken one step closer to their own
    Monkeyspheres, and they don’t want him there. They don’t want him to be a human
    being. He’s a MONSTER. End of
    story. They don’t want to think of him
    as a person who slept in a bed and brushed his teeth in the morning and played
    in the park as a toddler and had people he loved and cared about. They don’t want to think about what sort of
    things may have happened to this boy that led him to do monstrous, terrible,
    horrible acts against his fellow man.

    People ABSOLUTELY don’t want to think about their own culpability, not with
    Dzhokhar, but with people like him.

    Wait, what!?!? Am I saying that what
    he, or people like him (ie- Adam Lanza, etc.) do is justified? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Acts of terror and atrocities like this are
    NEVER okay in my book. But what about that kid you bullied in highschool? What about that foreign man that you gave the
    stink-eye to on the bus? What about that
    homeless guy that smells like piss that you pass on the street corner every
    day? Is it even possible to care about each and every single one of these
    people? Is it possible to care about
    every single “righteous” cause on the planet?
    No, probably not, because those people are outside of our monkeyspheres,
    and we need to save that precious emotional energy for the people we know and
    love, the people who look like us or our friends, the people we identify with. The
    thing is, we can *try* to love them. We
    can try to treat them with dignity and kindness. And who knows, reaching out to that person,
    smiling to that guy on the bus, might just be the thing that changes their mind
    from doing something terrible.

    Empathizing with someone as a human being does NOT mean you approve of what
    they do in their lives. It means you are
    taking time to try to see them as human, and understand where they come from,
    and in doing so, maybe taking an uncomfortable look at the things inside of
    ourselves that we might not want to see.

    Now, for the people who are saying Amanda wrote this poem as a publicty
    stunt, I think you’re missing the point.
    This was a quick poem she jotted down in an attempt to understand and
    process what happened in her city, right around the corner. Good, bad, well-written or piss-poor writing,
    it DOESN’T MATTER. It was

    So what was her crime? Maybe not
    writing the poem per se, but posting it online for all to see. For the people
    who don’t know Amanda Palmer’s work, who don’t follow her blog, who found this
    poem because of the bombing… Amanda is outside of THEIR monkeysphere! Obviously she’s just a greedy, media-hungry
    celebrity capitalizing on other people’s misery, right? She’s not a person who was just rocked to the
    core through this tragedy that happened in HER OWN TOWN. She’s not a person who feels lonely and
    isolated and alone and scared. She’s a celebrity, so she shouldn’t post her
    feelings online in an attempt to reach out to her own fanbase, in an attempt to
    feel more connected and less alone, to understand what she herself is feeling
    about this tragedy.

    Here is a link to one more blog post, this one by Dan Pierce from his blog “Single
    Dad Laughing”. This blog post is a bit
    longer than the article above, but I believe it’s worth
    reading. Yes, it’s sort of about
    religion, and sort of about homosexuality, but there is a larger message, and
    it’s mainly the last page of the blog post that I’m using to illustrate my

    Here’s an excerpt from that blog post. Ignore the Christianity stuff if you
    want to, that’s not the point I’m trying to get at here. If you’d like, replace the “I’m Chrisitan,
    unless…” with “I’m a caring, loving person, unless…”. It’s all the same thing,
    and Dan articulates it way better than I do.

    “I promise you it doesn’t matter what you believe, how strongly you live
    your beliefs, or how true your beliefs are. Somebody else, somewhere,
    thinks you are in the wrong. Somebody else,
    somewhere, thinks your beliefs are senseless or illogical. Somebody else,
    somewhere, thinks you have it all wrong. In fact, there are a lot of
    people in this world who do.

    We each understand that. We already know that. It’s the world we live in and
    we’re not naïve. We’re not stupid. We get it.

    Yet, we expect and want love anyway. We expect and want
    understanding. We expect and want tolerance. We expect and want humanity. We
    expect and want respect for our beliefs, even from those who
    don’t believe the same things we do. Even from those who think we’re wrong,
    unwise, or incorrect.

    We expect all of that from the people who disagree with us and who disagree
    with our lifestyles and beliefs because, let’s be honest, nothing we do
    is actually bad enough to be worthy of disgust, anger, hatred, or
    cold-shouldering. Right? None of the ways in which we live our lives
    would warrant such behavior. Right? None of our beliefs are worthy of
    ugly disdain from others.


    No, we’re all… perfect. Freaking, amazingly, impossibly… perfect.

    But the gays… well, shoot.


    You know what I think?

    Let this sink in for a minute…

    I think it doesn’t matter if you or I or anybody else thinks homosexuality
    is a sin. It doesn’t matter if you or I think anything is a
    sin. It doesn’t matter if homosexuality is a sin or not. In
    fact, it doesn’t matter if anything anybody else does is a
    sin or not.

    Because sin is a very personal thing! It always has been and it always will

    And it has nothing to do with love.

    Absolutely nothing.

    Disparity and difference have nothing to do with love.

    We shouldn’t choose who we will love and who we won’t.

    “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.”

    That’s the message we’re sending, you know.

    “I’m Christian, unless I’m hotter than you.”

    “I’m Christian, unless I’m uglier than you.”

    “I’m Christian, unless I found out you cheated on your income taxes.”

    “I’m Christian, unless you cut me off in traffic.”

    “I’m Christian, unless you fall in love with the person I once fell in love

    “I’m Christian, unless you’re that guy who smells like crap on the subway.”

    “I’m Christian, unless you’re of a different religion.”

    “Oh, but you’re not gay? You’re clean, and well dressed, and you
    have a job? You look the way I think you should look? You act the way I think
    you should act? You believe the things I think you should believe? Then I’m definitely
    a Christian. To you, today, I’m a Christian. You’ve earned it.”

    I bet you’ve heard that message coming from others. Maybe you’ve given that
    message to others.

    Either way, I hope we all can agree that we mustn’t live that
    message. We just shouldn’t.

    But many of us do.

    And we do it all the time.

    For some of us, it might as well be tattooed across our necks and foreheads.

    Maybe not in those words, but the message is clear to those who hear and are
    listening. It’s clear to those who are watching and seeing.


    And I wish with everything inside of me that it didn’t make any difference to
    others. I wish we didn’t all have to find ways that we’re better than others or
    more holy and saintly than others in order to feel better about
    our own messy selves. I wish people wouldn’t cluster entire groups of people
    together and declare the whole lot unworthy of any love and respect.

    But that is the point of such thinking and action, isn’t it? I mean, it’s
    simpler that way. It makes it easier for us to justify our thoughts, words, and
    prejudices that way.

    All these people become clumped together. And in the
    process, they all somehow become less than human.

    They become unworthy of our love.

    And what a great thing it is when that happens, right? I mean, it helps us
    to free ourselves from the very directives that have been passed down for
    millennia from the greatest teachers and philosophers in history. It makes our
    rationalization for hatred, bigotry, and abhorrence so easily justifiable; so

    So right.

    It gives us the golden chance to look at ourselves and not be disgusted by
    what the glass reflects back at us.

    Then, sadly and ultimately, it pushes us to that point where we no longer
    have any sort of arm to put around others at all. We no longer have a hand to
    offer our fellow human beings. We no longer have a need to.

    And why would we?

    Why the hell should we?

    Unless, of course, we actually want to live what we all so often claim that
    we “believe.”

    My dear friends…

    This has to stop. We have to put our ugly picket signs down. We have to be
    the examples that help make it happen in our own lives and in the lives of the
    people that surround us.

    We have to be that voice. We each must be that voice.

    We must tell others that we will not accept or listen to such hurtful and
    hateful sentiments.

    We must show love where love right now doesn’t exist.

    Will you please join me?

    My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find somebody,
    anybody, that’s different than you. Somebody that has made you feel ill-will or
    even [gulp…] hateful. Somebody whose life decisions have made you
    uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion than you do.
    Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a criminal past.
    Somebody who dresses “below” you. Somebody with disabilities. Somebody who
    lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody without a home.

    Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and
    always be disgusted by.

    Reach your arm out and put it around them.

    And then, tell them they’re all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell
    them you love them.

    If you or I wanna make a change in this world, that’s where we’re gonna be
    able to do it. That’s where we’ll start.

    Every. Single. Time.

    Because what you’ll find, and I promise you this, is that the more you put
    your arm around those that you might naturally look down on, the more you will love
    yourself. And the more you love yourself, the less need you’ll ever have to
    find fault or be better than others. And the less we all
    find fault or have a need to be better than others, the quicker this world
    becomes a far better place to live.

    And don’t we all want to live in a better world? Don’t we all want our kids
    to grow up in a better, less hateful, more beautiful world?

    I know I do.

    So let’s be that voice. Let’s offer that arm to others. Because, the honest
    truth is… there’s gonna come a day when you or I are going to need that same
    courtesy. There’s going to come a day that we are desperate for that same arm
    to be put around us. We’ll be desperate for that same friendship. We’ll be
    desperate for that same love.

    Life will make sure of it. For you. For me. For everyone. It always does
    because… as it turns out… there’s not a damn person on earth who’s perfect.” ~Dan
    Pearce, excerpt from “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay.” Single Dad Laughing

  • Bill Merriman

    To quote John Green, though: Books belong to their readers.

  • Belieber

    be warned, those who have come to show disapproval of this wretched insanity, she is editing her page, leaving only the supportive drones and removing anyone whose comments challenge her madness. pretty narrow minded, amanda. ironic you’re protected by freedom of speech. you’re a hypocrite.

    • AxlReznor

      Actually, I think Disqus is just a crap system that can’t hold its data for very long and causes some incredibly erratic problems, like comments disappearing and reappearing for no reason and making it look like one person is commenting over and over again until you refresh and realise it was all different people all along…

    • wilder125

      Really? What about all the disapproval etc that’s still on the poem entry

    • hatingtrolls

      It seemed like the obviously hacked responses were being cleared – that’s true in my case anyway. My original comment was somewhat critical yet remains, while the comments made using my hacked handle were deleted.

      • Marionette26

        So far they’re keeping up with it, which is awesomesauce. The trolls, for some reason, copy and paste other people’s comments along with stealing their handles… and those are what are being deleted, so far as I can tell.

    • wilder125

      on another note. I am the one who typed the “really?” comment. I just forgot for a couple of years, literally, that I had a name and password with Disquis. Imagine my surprise when it said my e-mail was already in use

  • Brandon Armstrong

    I began commenting on this post for only one reason – to communicate to Amanda. Instead I’ve ended up writing paragraph upon paragraph in response to her legion of blind followers, who are all essentially saying the same thing – “I can’t believe you don’t understand where Amanda is coming from.”

    Well, as I said, hopefully Amanda reads what I wrote and considers it as the opinions of an intelligent mind, and entertains the plausibility of it with her own intelligent mind. I say it because I am living in a hurt city right now, being a Boston native all my life, and this blog post to me seemed like a cheap shot at attention and didn’t treat the tragedy with the respect it deserved. It was, as some have pointed out, more about Amanda than anything else.

    Am I wrong that it’s a cheap shot at publicity? That is an absolute possibility. But it doesn’t change the pointless meandering of the poem while guised as being directed to a murderer. I would have the same feelings about the poem’s ineffectiveness either way, but being the situation it is, I took actual offense to reading it.

    • Bostonbred

      You did good. At least, I feel better seeing that not everybody here is, as you say, blind. I think it is an attempt at ego-gratification and attention-seeking, rather than at “publicity” per se. Although these days, the previous may always include an attempt at the latter in Amanda’s mind. That said, I think that this behavior, which is chronic with Amanda Palmer, comes out of severe pathology and is largely unconscious.

      Amanda behaves like a classic narcissist. She offends, but your feelings about her offense are not her responsibility. She is merely being herself. An artist, if you will. And, you know, artists can do whatever they want in the name of Art. They are special snowflakes. Since you are not a special snowflake (unless so designated by Amanda), it’s your fault if you’re offended.

      I really feel sick about yesterday’s blog post. Like, physically sick. I don’t actually understand why I’m SO upset about it. Somehow, the whole of the events in Boston have really hurt. Then, to see this. Amanda, the least qualified person of anyone I’ve known to make statements about empathy pretending to empathize with this kid – sick, sick, sick. I do feel angry. I hadn’t thought about her in years until – suddenly – the TED talk, and now she’s everywhere. And such an unpleasant person.

      • fuckingbostonian

        Actually, the comments here – their unwavering allegiance to someone who is so consistently offensive – are upsetting me too. Amanda Palmer seems to have become a cult leader. The best policy – as with any cult – may be to disengage. Really, who the hell cares? I never have to see Amanda Palmer again (except unfortunately, in an occasional article about her shenanigans).

        • Tom

          It is a farce. It is shenanigans. It is feeding off of other people’s misery for publicity’s sake. The motis operandi of trolls; Anyone can provoke. It is trolling. I was over this ridiculousness the first time around last year. And I am over it now. The only thing she truly provoked was her of self-destruction of legitimacy of what was once a very good career at being a musical performer. Anyone can call anything they want “ART” and excuse themselves of the things they write/say publicly, but that doesn’t mean people have agree with them, or like what they have to say, because they feel the need to support a fellow artist/performer’s freedom of speech. AP is becoming irrelevant. I’m not surprised either. It diminishes other fellow artist’s -real- concepts, ideas, and artistic credibility. Anyone can use a grammar checker and call themselves a professional writer too. I’m not impressed anymore.

          • fuckingbostonian

            it is sad, isn’t it? She was, as you say, a legitimate musical performer (the Dresden Dolls were once very good). I never liked her, but I did admire her. These days she’s a tawdry spectacle. And this sudden embrace of a new identity as a “writer” – must be out of some misguided competitiveness with Neil Gaiman. Sad. Sad. Sad. Honestly, I’m embarrassed that I ever spent time around her. Jeez.

          • luci_fer

            Hm. I would argue that there’s a link between “a legitimate musical performer” and “a sudden embrace of a new identity as a ‘writer'” given, while she has a lot of energy as a live performer, I’ve always seen her primarily as a song writer. Lyrics aren’t that much of a stretch from poems (though I don’t think this example was a well-crafted poem).

            I think that writing a blog can be an art form of writing – certainly entertaining (for example, The Bloggess, whose book is now a bestseller) though again, I wouldn’t necessary cite this blog as an example of being a writer in the professional sense – though some of the posts have absolutely been interesting and moving; but not necessarily well structured or grammatically correct, etc. But what you like is what you like.

          • stormypink

            What the hell are you doing here now?

      • luci_fer

        …”Amanda behaves like a classic narcissist. She offends, but your feelings about her offense are not her responsibility.”

        They aren’t. They really genuinely aren’t. That specific example is not one of narcissism, it’s one of personal responsibility.

        I hear this all the time, and it’s not an Amanda Palmer issue. It’s a general society issue – people phoning up to complain to the BBC that someone said something offensive and it shouldn’t be allowed. Then things deemed to cause offence are spoken less (incase they offend).

        Your feelings are not her responsibility, or anyone elses – they are yours alone.

        That doesn’t mean someone deliberately out to hurt your feelings and being hateful isn’t an ass, of course. But at the same time it’s erroneous to blame others entirely for your personal responses. Particularly when not directed specifically at you. You’re absolutely entitled to feel offended, of course…But your own possible personal feelings aren’t going to dictate if I write a poem or not – particularly as I don’t know you or what your reactions will be.

    • TheAbleistLeadingTheAbleist

      “her legion of blind followers”

      Funny how it’s always the other guy who’s blind. You’re obviously not blinded by anything.

      • CaptianObvious

        Ted Striker: “Surely you can’t be serious.”
        Rumack: “I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.”

  • Laura

    Sing for the teachers who told you that you could not sing

  • JuliePee

    Amanda, I hope that your reason for posting this was that you wanted to try and explain rather than feeling that you had to. The idea of you having to justify your empathy is so alien to me. Just as alien as those whose gut reaction was blood-lust and anger having to justify that. We react how we do and I believe we as individuals have very little control over that.

    I guess that’s why people have difficulty understanding one another; it can be quite impossible to understand how someone else’s gut reaction to the same event can be so different to our own.

    Then we fear what we don’t understand.

    And hate that which we fear.

    And hate, above all, causes hurt.

    Right now, people are hurt enough.

    I believe a wise and beautiful little boy whose name we sadly now all know said: “No more hurting people – peace”.


  • Doug Wexler

    i juss keep picturing pokin my dick in amandas mouth ;)

    • id2nv2nj2ca

      Then sir, you are an idiot.

    • Alana

      It’s too small.

      • Doug Wexler

        it dont matter how small ur dick is any dick can fit in a mouth

        • Alana

          Not if it keeps slipping out.

    • Lindsey

      So, you’re offended by something non-offensive, can’t find words to even explain why, so you can’t imagine sexually abusing her instead. You sound very pathetic and like a bomber yourself, to be honest. They are always damaged like you. Sad.

      • Doug Wexler

        who said anything bout being offended, all im sayin is itd be fly to get some dome off that broad

  • Juliet Andrien

    “i am definitely going to resist the urge to publish a book entitled ‘a
    slim volume of anti-amanda-palmer verse written during national poetry

    I would be possibly even more excited about
    the far-less-slim prequel publishing the correspondence involved in
    obtaining the publication rights to the aforementioned verse.

    Thank you so much for the poem, and for this response; you are endlessly inspiring and comforting.

  • Jeremy Harris

    As within, so without. The micro is the macro…. So, as long as we keep saying words crafted to hurt others, on this page and elsewhere, we are perpetuating the same disrespect for life and confusion that led to this tragedy in the first place. Contrarily (and regardless of her methods, or posting “too soon,” or for controversy, or the poetic merit) Amanda’s words were not designed to hurt, but to heal. Whether we agree or disagree, it is up to us to decide how to react to them. Every second of every day, we have the CHOICE between love or fear. Doesn’t all of life’s swirl of emotions ultimately boil down to that constant choice? Which will you choose?

  • Britta

    Ich bin noch nie in meinem Leben so berührt worden. Danke, Amanda!

  • Lisa McColgan

    When you write a poem, and you put it out into the world, it is no longer yours. You of all people should understand that. Poetry by its very nature is open to interpretation. Once it leaves your notebook or your hard drive, you are no longer in any position to TELL people how they should interpret it. That people read it at all, and come away with their own interpretations, is not something to rail against.

    If you cannot accept that people will interpret it differently than what you intended, don’t publish it.

    • Musings


    • Esmertina Bicklesnit

      That’s true, and Amanda has said it many times. You should see the pages and pages of interpretations of the lyrics to Leeds United alone, not to mention dozens of others.

      You can, however, be wrong about the intent and motivations of the author. That’s what I saw here.

      • Lisa McColgan

        Understood, but she says this: “it is always very interesting when people misinterpret art, and then get angry about it.”

        You cannot pick and choose what you want people to “misinterpret.”

        I, for one, wasn’t offended by the timing, or what she was attempting to say. I, personally, am just uncomfortable with artists saying: “No, that’s not what I meant, you’re wrong, go back and read it again.”

    • Burner

      Who’s railing? People have been putting words in her mouth for days, calling her every name in the book and accusing her of sympathizing with or defending the actions of a terrorist. So she’s explaining that she’s not.
      It’s really not that hard.

      • Lisa McColgan

        Fair enough. Poor choice of words. Nobody’s “railing.”

        The fact is, though, that as soon as people started interpreting it in their way (before this blog was posted), she started telling them, in essence, “Wrong. Read it again.” This is what I’m talking about. It is not the artist’s place to do that, in my opinion. I don’t think she even needed to come back here and explain herself.

        Again. Not offended by the poem. I don’t think it’s very good, but that’s beside the point.

        • stormypink

          I would feel the need to explain because no one wants to be thought of a terrorist sympathizer—which she isn’t.

        • Kirsten Petersen

          I dunno – my high school English teacher always berated us for not considering the context – historical, political, etc. – of a piece when interpreting it. There are competing schools of thought as to how art should be received – either that it should stand entirely on its own, or that it should be taken in context. In high school I always wished we could drag the author in the room to settle the arguments between my teacher and me. How wonderful that Amanda is here to explain herself.

  • HmmMaybe

    Personally, I think the thing to do with the fear is stop giving it so much power over you by questioning what to DO about it. That just keeps you tied up inside yourself trying to understand something that most of us don’t really WANT to comprehend. I don’t really want to be the kind of human that truly understands bombing my fellow Americans; having that in my head/heart will not make me less afraid, and it will definitely not make me a better person.

    I think we all need to accept that a lack of security is the price we pay for living in a free society.

    Yeah, read THAT again.

    I think we each must accept that life is never going to be safe in a country where people have a Constitution that protects their rights – and fear is NEVER a reason to give up those rights! – then we must actively and purposefully move on.

    Fear is a choice, and choosing fear only holds you back – it’s not doing a damn thing to make you (or the world) better. Be bold, be strong, refuse to fear.

    Then go use the same exact freedoms that allowed those men to walk that street (without being questioned) and drop those bags (without having them searched) and do the oh-so-many *positive* things you’re free to do to based on the same laws.

    Go use those freedoms for good.

  • Tyuhg22

    I’m glad you wrote your response to your poem (heck, I laughed when people said it didn’t rhyme). Stay strong and feel what you feel and write what you write!

  • brandi

    Someone on Facebook posted the fox news headline: Wait, What?! Singer Writes ‘Love Poem’ for Dzhokhar. I read that rant, clicked through to the poem, clicked through to this blog entry, and found the gold. Where the poem is about confusion, this entry has so much clarity. You have so eloquently described the complexity of human emotion surrounding catastrophic events and the role art plays in helping make sense of it. I’ve been troubled by people’s comments about how we should ignore these bombers because they just want our attention, that we should focus in the victims instead. But I think it is natural to want to understand who could do something like this. I want to understand the difference between these guys and most people, to believe that a complex and unique series of life events created them, not that they are monsters. Where is the peace of mind in that? Knowledge is power. The unknown is where fear rules. As for the poem, art is a mirror. People’s reactions have more to do with their own emotional state than that of the artist. Popular art is popular because it is a simple, generic emotion that applies to many. Controversial art delves deeper into the endless capacity of emotion that we humans are blessed and cursed with.

  • Jason Cooley

    Believe me, nobody thinks you are exaggerating when you claim it only took you nine minutes to write that poem.

    The problem I have with you and your poem (other than that it’s terrible) is your refusal to admit what it at least looks like: blatant opportunism you perpetrated when you finished it and then copy-and-pasted that kid’s name at the top, most likely after realizing it was probably the most Googled name in the world at that moment.

    And if you’re really just trying to help, I’m sorry.

  • Madi

    Thank you Mrs. Palmer.
    For your words, for your thoughts, for your desire to understand.
    Thank you.

  • Tory Gates

    Amanda you have every right to your feelings, as we all do. Having lived there ten years (New England remains my home no matter where I go), I get all of it. All the same, I was appalled at the things people said, even in a time of high emotion. I’m amazed at the anger, the hatred and the racism displayed, but even worse…the IGNORANCE of people. This of course is being stoked by a media that I am a member of (thankfully, I work for a place that does NOT believe that if it bleeds it leads, and that a story must be got first no matter how inaccurate it is), and it makes me embarrassed. Not only for my field, but for the human race.

    Everybody’s got theories and ideas as to why that young man chose to follow his big brother into their version of Hell. Clearly to me, his buttons were pushed, and in a sick, diabolical way.

    You chose to see the side of the man that no one else did. That is your right. If people don’t like it, fuck them. I am sure nine out of ten of the people I speak about this with will think I’m mad as well, but I do not care. Instead of false patriotism and sheep-like mantras, let’s think now about what we can do to make the world better, not more polarized than it already is.

    And by the way, poems don’t need to rhyme, folks. My song lyrics don’t either!

    All the best to you and Neil.

  • Adriana

    Oh, please. This is in great part what Amanda was feeling after all this shit happened. Like going in a haze as her mind, just like our minds, was trying to make sense of it all. To those of you who actually got that this was greatly about her feelings on this horrible situation and think that writing it down and sharing it is self-serving, you don’t really know what an artist is. Artists dare to say what others only think. And they dare to say it as it comes out. Why should she keep it to herself? That is what a blog is for!

    • gooliaj

      yeah and naming it the way she did was no way intended to garner attention…lol smugness at it’s finest

  • hatingtrolls

    I understand the criticism that presenting a poem written in 9 minutes for public consumption conveys a sense of flippancy and superficiality with respect to a tragedy of such scale. Perhaps some of the outrage has to do with the fact that some people expect a more finished product out of a poem rather than a rough “working out” of something. While of course any number of “major” poets have written poems dramatizing the processing of tragedy (Wordsworth comes to mind), these poems are frequently painstakingly constructed. I have to admit, I’m firmly in this camp regarding poetry. What I do find really disturbing about this vitriolic criticism, however, are these disparaging references to 14-year old versifiers and that “annoying artsy girl in college” which the poem has been repeatedly said to recall. This does indeed reflect on the critics own fears: the unguarded, creative self-expression of women, particularly young women and girls.

  • John Seven
  • Laura

    I have only seen what happened on facebook. I wondered if you can handle this mass of hate…. I couldn’t. I wondered if you were sitting in some corner talking with neil, about how this came all to be and how people can hate so fast and so bad… I spent hours wondering with my friend. I just wanted you to know, that I – on the other side of the planet – somehow wanted to suck the poison out of this wound…. kinda felt bad, so that you wouldn’t…. Oh this sounds like so much nonsense and I have started all over again like three times already. It’s good you do the word job and this is why it was childish to wonder IF you could handle it, wheras the only question would be HOW.
    Thank you, for everything.

  • Maleficent

    As a big fan of yours, who also did not like your poem (nor do I feel empathy towards Dzhokhar), I apologize for misunderstanding your poem. Truthfully, I read it after reading so much excuse making for Dzhokhar all over the internet, that I only saw it through that lense – not an open mind.

  • hatingtrolls

    wow, I posted a serious comment (the first hatingtrolls) and immediately got hacked. somebody has a lot of time for petty pointless nonsense.

  • Molly Halloran

    1. Who cares what you think of the quality of the poem? Amanda is not seeking your approval OR any literary awards. That’s Neil’s job. Amanda is just expressing herself.

    2. We all get to have our own opinions. That’s America. You can hate the poem if you want. I can love it. You can hate the art while not hating the artist.

    3. None of us think the bombers were great guys. I think we all agree they committed horrible atrocities and need to be punished, but feeling sympathy OR empathy towards them does not make us criminals OR immoral.

    4. We are a community here, NOT a cult as some have suggested. We have a lot in common and we support each other.

    5. There is no right time and no wrong time to start the discussion on painful events like this.

    6. This tragedy happened because of hatred, let’s not live with hatred in our hearts.

    • Marionette26

      Why can’t we go back to being a cult? We acted very much so like a beautiful, loving cult with Amanda as our idol until this shit blew the fuck up and ruined it. I thought it was a bit odd, being in a cult, but it was better than this. We had each other’s backs and were incredibly supportive and respectful. Now we’re broken. This makes me sad.

      • Molly Halloran

        Cults get a bad rap.

  • Guest

    Ah, so the poem was about you.

    Seriously, though, I don’t mean to belabor the point or to continue over an argument that came out of decisions and creative process that took all of 9 minutes, but I still don’t feel that you’re at all addressing what I and many other people found discomfiting (at least based on the 600+ so far who have liked comments of mine on the last post). I don’t take objection to your discussion of the humanity of the bombers, and I don’t begrudge anyone the use of the creative process to heal.

    What I do take issue with is that



  • Pants

    Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay (thought it was fitting)

    To Those Without Pity

    Cruel of heart, lay down my song,
    Your reading eyes have done me wrong,
    Not for you was the pen bitten,
    And the mind wrung, and the song written.

  • Hunchie

    I like you.

  • Danielm80

    To paraphrase Neil: When you’re composing a piece of writing in your head, it’s a perfect thing. When you put it on paper, it’s never as beautiful or as moving as the piece you wrote in your head.

    I’d like to read the poem Amanda wrote in her head. It sounds like a really powerful poem about the need for empathy, even when empathy is nearly impossible, and about the confusion of living in a world where you’re barraged with contradictory messages all day long, from people with wildly opposing values.

    But that’s not the poem we got. We got a jumble of images, some of them banal and pointless, some of them nearly incoherent. And maybe for some people they worked as a poem, but for me, they didn’t add up to a portrait of Dzhokhar, or to a meaningful worldview. I just saw a series of non-sequiturs.

    You can say that I just didn’t understand the poem, if you like, that I didn’t read it properly, or that I wasn’t the right audience for this kind of art. But when so many people had the same reaction, it’s possible that it’s just a failed poem.

    That makes me sad, because we need good poems about empathy right now. I’m horrified by the commenters who said that Dzokhar isn’t a human being.

    There was a movie a while back, Max, that showed Adolf Hitler as a young artist. People found it really offensive, and as far as I can tell, their objection was: Hitler should not be portrayed as anything but an evil madman. That bothered me, because no one acts like an evil madman all the time. The great villains of history told jokes and fell in love and cooked dinner for their friends and, sometimes, tried to create art. If we assume that they didn’t, that they did nothing but rant and plot the destruction of the human race, we won’t be able to spot the next villain who comes along. And we won’t be able to stop that person from turning into a villain.

    We need empathy right now. We need it to understand why people commit acts of destruction, and to heal each other after they happen.

    I wish this poem had helped us to do that, and I’m sorry that it didn’t succeed. But I think the discussion that came after the poem, and Amanda’s very well-written blog post, above, may help with the healing. And I look forward to reading more poems by Amanda, because the person who wrote that blog post is capable of great works of art. This poem just isn’t one of them.

    • Hannah Schuetz

      I think this might be the most fair summation I’ve read so far. Except for one thing. I’m not sure if a person can intend to write a poem or make a piece of art that will heal the masses. Even if you can intend it, I’m not sure you could suceed with that purpose in mind. We address the issues in art, and some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t. This certianly provoked reaction in a lot of people.

  • Tom Steiger

    The manner in which you consistently respond to ignorance, hatred, and spite with grace and wisdom is a constant source of inspiration.

    • Maleficent

      Surely you do not dismiss every dissenting opinion as “ignorance”, “hatred”, or “spite”?

      • Tom Steiger

        Obviously not. In fact, if you go back and sift through the ocean of comments on the original poem you will find me praising a poster who eviscerated the poem as a work of poetry without attacking the poet. That said, there was surely enough ignorance, hatred, and spite to go around.

  • Marionette26

    This blog response to your poem frustrates me. I’m glad you explain your poem – that needed to be done (although I’m not sure how many people will hear you, at this point). But I hate that you make your empathetic response to fear out to be the better of the two. It’s better for you, and for many of your fans, and for many other people. Speaking on a purely personal level though (not on a what’s best for the world level), it’s not always the best choice. Forcing empathy when that’s not someone’s natural reaction, when that’s not how they truly feel, isn’t healthy. Forcing yourself to try to process in any way that feels wrong to you is going to inhibit the ability to heal – even if you’re trying to force yourself to process using something “good”. I really wish that you, and some of the other fans in the fandom, could understand that hate can help heal on a personal level.
    And to be fair, I really truly wish those who hate could understand that empathy is a valid path as well. These should both be incredibly personal things – it shouldn’t be up to anyone else to judge, so long as hate AND empathy aren’t acted on (firm neutrality is the way to go, with actions, because if empathy is acted on it errs too close to the side of sympathy).
    Everyone has their own path to travel.

  • Eleanor Nettleton

    I would donate to the one fund if it would help protect Dzhokher from abuse at the hands of the law.Being young he deserves to tell his story straight and have the space to figure it out. Empathy for all is THE KEY.Thank you Amanda the Brave!

  • Becky Schneider

    People are, of course, free to take or leave your poem – certainly I think your choice of title obscured its meaning. But I feel very very sorry for people who are afraid of empathy. I learned it from taking theology seriously (though I am no longer religious), but also from reading stories and poems and writing them myself. I learned it from trying hard to pay attention to others and not get trapped in my own perspective. I’m still learning it.

    Without empathy, we invent our own fictions about why people do evil things. We say these people are monsters or demons. The fictions are momentarily comforting, sure, but ultimately harmful.

    Empathy doesn’t mean denying that some people are seriously fucked-up, perhaps too broken to fix. It doesn’t mean apologizing for awful behavior or disavowing one’s own anger, hatred, and fear. It means starting with the premise that everyone is a complex human being. That the world isn’t made up of good people and monsters, but just people.

  • TMG

    Art is meant to be interpreted by the consumer. If it was misinterpreted, you did not do a very good job at getting your point across. This blog entry of you explaining yourself is proof of that.

    If you have to tell people you are provocative, you can’t be all that provocative.

    • wilder125

      Not really. After all the ranting, raving, insulting, and wishes that she would have her legs blown off (I’m the same wilder125.. just forgot I had a disquis account for awhile) I think it was needed.

      • TMG

        Wishing for someone’s legs to be blown off is a far cry from actually doing it…

        • wilder125

          It is however a wish for Neil to hold his wife and scream as she lays there bleeding

          • TMG

            Pretty irrelevant unless you believe that making a wish results in it coming true. That type of rhetoric gets tossed around haphazardly by too many people as it is, that I can agree with.

          • wilder125

            Doesn’t change the feeling behind it though. Yes they don’t come true. Except through pure happenstance that has nothing to do with the wish. But the fact remains that harm, injury, maybe death is still wanted for someone. aka wished.

          • TMG

            Yep. Careless words can result in careless words.

          • Red Garner

            I’m sorry but you just sound like a terrible person to wish that on anyone. You should get some help.

          • wilder125

            I say the same thing I said to miserichik, but gentler. Proofread more before replying. I’m the one against the idiot who wished it. Which is what I’ve been talking about.

          • miserichik

            OMG this is horrible. Stop. This is not right.

          • wilder125

            damn, proofread us both saying that the person wishing it is an idiot who needs help, some more why don’t you. we’re talking about the jack bastard who wished injury on her. do try and keep up.

          • stormypink

            That makes you as evil as the bomber

          • wilder125

            So.. describing a side reaction if the jackass who wished yesterday on the other blog entry that her legs would be blown off found that his wish came true, is being evil… man. People just keep avoiding proofreading the fact I’m talking about the people who “were ranting and raving about wishing” don’t they.

          • wilder125

            aka look at what TMG is responding to before I made the response that caused you to respond

          • wilder125

            And yet, the whole conversation has been about the person on the poem blog post wishing that Amanda’s legs would be blown off. Followed by me pointing out, aka what you’re replying to, what would be the consequence

    • Jessica

      I don’t see it as her saying she’s provocative, that’s up the person viewing the material to view it that way or not, but as her explaining why she wrote it so those who are so angry right now can be calmed down a bit. Nearly any work can be misinterpreted and many are even created with multiple meanings, so blaming an artist for not making the point of their work obvious (it then becomes statement, not art) is blaming her for using art in the first place.

    • Jessica

      I would also like to add I in no way mean that statement as rude. I am just saying everyone has different views about art. The core of this issue is she wrote something out of empathy, people with responded with anything but empathy, and she then had to explain to calm their misguided anger. That’s all it is, really.

    • Eric

      “IF it was misinterpeted? I think the issue here is that, for most of us who are Amanda fans (and many who aren’t), the poem was very obvious and about empathy. You can see many replies saying such in her original post of it. However, many people who don’t know her and/or simply didn’t get it projected their anger on it and even created threats against her. That fault, for behaving childish, is really their own and they can’t justify it. It would be much more mature on their behalf to just say they didn’t get it and move on.

    • Jones

      Call me a devils advocate, but I remember Amanda disliking Gaga for having to ‘explain’ her art to her fans. It feels hypocritical, yes, it does.
      I also think that Amanda Palmer tries very hard to be everything at all times and, specifically recently, she’s made a fair few blunders in respect of her opinions and experience within the music industry. When you upset people by accident and are humbled you often find yourself in a hole you can’t get out of – as I interpret this affair to be a part of. Im not excusing, supporting or agreeing with what she has said or done as a musician. I do think the poem views on an internet platform as a cheap publicity trick, no matter the intention, and at this point in time some real reflection and humility would offer the opportunity to reach out to a new audience. People are understandably upset by what she wrote but mostly pissed off that she has asked them to “read it again”. They’re not children, they’re people with opinions & feelings as valid as hers. It’s as hypocritical as asking families of the victims to understand the bombers (whether they did it or not), or telling Gaga that asserting her artistic intention devalues the merit of her music.
      I dont think amanda did this to piss anyone off but I do think she probably needs an internet break to breathe before getting involved with the world en mass, especially if her life is in challenge.

      • Melly

        Jesus Christ, dude, if you don’t like her, go listen to something else. No one is keeping you here. This obsessive stalking of her page and harassing her fans just makes you look sad and weird.

        • Dennis Roberts

          Read it again. There are many valid points.

          • Jones

            Thank you. I’d like to think my observations were humanitarian albeit quite honest.
            It really does sound like Amanda and Neil need some time to chill away from the internet and the world so they can sort out their lives together. It cant be easy and I wish them peace and lots of tea.

        • stormypink

          All the people posting their derogatory opinions are doing the exact same thing that Amanda did—expressing their feelings. As Melly said, ” No one is keeping you here.” If you don’t like her, don’t fill up your life with hate. Try prayer.

        • Jones

          You truly are attention seeking because:

          Ive been a long time fan and performed with the dirty business brigade,
          I have defended her in my public blogs (which neil actually ‘liked’)
          I never insulted her and have never harrassed her fans,

          I dont have to agree with everything she says and does. And I dont. And thats ok.

          But accusing me of something I havent done because you dont agree with what Ive written is actually pretty sophomoric. So, maybe, structure some well thought out ideas snd offer them to the debate before hurling meaningless abuse for attention.

    • luci_fer

      “Art is meant to be interpreted by the consumer.”

      Yes. (Though ‘consumer’ is a bit of a strange word in this context, but completely with you on the ‘art is meant to be interpreted’ bit.)

      ” If it was misinterpreted, you did not do a very good job at getting your point across.”

      I guess it depends what she meant by misinterpreted. But that seems to contradict a bit – the interpretation isn’t based on getting the point across in art. Because it’s meant to be interpreted – i.e, you make the meaning your own. There is no one definitive meaning to be understood.

      1. Misinterpreted as in ‘misread’ – your interpretation was based specifically on something you thought was in the poem, but actually wasn’t.
      2. Misinterpreted as in ‘assuming authorial intention’ – your interpretation is based on or influenced by what you know of the writer. E.g “Amanda Palmer is a terrorist sympathiser” would be misinterpreting a poem not because she is or isn’t a terrorist sympathiser, but because it’s interpreting the person not the poem.
      3. Misinterpreted as in ‘different interpretation’ – your interpretation is completely valid but the writer disagrees with it. In a personal sense, the writer is the only one who can truly know what they intended, but they have no obligation to be honest about it . Once released to the world it’s subject to other peoples interpretations, which are as valid.

      tl;dr – I don’t agree with you if it’s 1 and 2, but I agree with you if it’s 3.

  • diggingellen

    Ah, so the poem was about you.

    Seriously, though, I don’t mean to belabor the point or to continue over an argument that came out of decisions and creative process that took all of 9 minutes, but I still don’t feel that you’re at all addressing what I and many other people found discomfiting (at least based on the 600+ so far who have liked comments of mine on the last post). I don’t take objection to your discussion of the humanity of the bomber, but to the premature and fictional way in which you characterize him.

    Despite your description of the poem, there are elements where you *directly* address thoughts and feelings that you imagine Dzhokhar felt – himself not knowing why he didn’t kill the man whose car he hijacked, not knowing how to mourn his dead brother, not knowing what it means to have lost iPhone power until he’s in that boat hiding (basically you directly transferring your own feelings to him in that situation). You consider that empathy, but it’s empathy with a fiction. Empathy requires some understanding of an individual. Empathy does not simply entail imagining that everyone feels roughly like you do in a given situation.

    ABC is now reporting that the car hijacking victim ran to safety and cowered in a gas station sobbing while calling the police. There may have been no intention on the part of the brothers to let him live. These are the sorts of mischaracterizations that happen when you attempt to empathize with a situation that you don’t understand yet, that no one does because all there is is rumors and innuendo. And those sorts of mischaracterizations have real implications when produced by someone who has the followers you do. This poem took a brief 9 minutes to produce, but you’ve spent hours and days defending that brief act, characterizing those who disagree as haters or people who don’t understand the medium of poetry. Perhaps that’s not all that’s going on here.

    • Chase Michael Jennings

      em·pa·thy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

      Sounds like that’s exactly what she was doing. Beyond that, the majority of this poem seems to be about the misc. thoughts she (and others) had during the 48 hour period the bomber was being chased… only a few lines are specifically Amanda attempting to empathize with the bomber.

      I get that you don’t like that. I get that it makes you uncomfortable. I get that it upsets you.


      That’s exactly what poetry should do. It reminds us that we have a soul.

      • diggingellen

        She isn’t understanding or sharing the feelings of another. She’s making them up. If I told you that I really empathize with how you’re feeling ashamed right now, and you aren’t feeling at all ashamed, then I have failed to empathize. Empathy requires an understanding – I don’t really get why this is so complicated.

        Similarly, you have told me that you “get” that I feel uncomfortable and upset – but I don’t feel uncomfortable and upset right now, that’s your assumptions of how I’m feeling. (And my previous comments haven’t portrayed being ‘upset’ in any way, so I think you are projecting there). I don’t feel that you are accurately understanding my feelings right now, and therefore I don’t feel empathized with.

        • Chase Michael Jennings

          Well if we’re going to get specific, there’s absolutely no way that any human being can truly understand/share the feelings of another. So than we should just stop trying entirely, then?

          What are you even arguing about anymore? That Amanda Palmer isn’t a journalist and thus she shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion/feeling about a world event? Do you even realize how ridiculous that is?

          You must be the person who sits at the back of the theater during a movie adaptation of a book screaming, “But that’s not how it happened!”

      • Bridget McGraw-Bordeaux

        well she’s certainly not empathizing with all of the fans that she’s hurt/offended with this poem. so she can spend 9 minutes empathizing with a stranger who all we know of him is a picture (and based by his twitter i seriously doubt he would be a fan of punk art cabaret) and 0 thinking about the people who have supported her, clothed her, and fed her for years? but oh, we just don’t get it.

    • embarrassedIeverwenttoseetheDD

      diggingellen, you are awesome!

  • Marionette26

    I’m not sure if it would help – but if people registered their names on disqus or logged in with something else, it might keep the trolls who are copying names down a bit (if that is starting up again, or going to start up again). They’ll still be able to copy and paste other people’s posts if they want to (I’m not sure why they were doing that, before), but I’m not sure they would be able to post under that particular screen name. This is a totally irrelevant comment to the matter of the blog… but yeah.

    • Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Yeah … I think there might also be a bug in Disqus where when there’s a high volume of anonymous posts they all appear with the same poster’s name … but then if you refresh the correct names appear. I have seen that happen a few times.

      I understand keeping the open forum and I generally ignore the trolls, but it might help to take “or pick a name” off of the commenting and require people to sign in through social media or with a registered Disqus account?

      • Marionette26

        That would probably help cut down on the trolls who just want to say terrible things, too. Maybe after all this it will inspire them to make a change. I know there aren’t many moderators, it must be kind of tiresome dealing with this.

  • Really?

    Ohhhhhh. I see. Silly me. When you titled it “A Poem For Dzhokhar”, I thought it was a poem for Dzhokhar. My bad. It was actually about you the whole time. I… probably should have guessed.

    • Mel

      Does “A Poem For” mean “A Poem About?”

  • Jah

    well then, let me put it in a 3 minute poem:

    with unknown right –
    what is left?
    merely sub strings
    of empathic path.

    beyond good and evil –
    an empty shell.
    sparkling in the sun,
    rotten than hell.

    numb feeling,
    containment of the void.
    while she slept,
    naked truth had been sold.

  • Esmertina Bicklesnit

    I shake my head every time there’s a kerfuffle, but this one takes the head-shakey cake.

    Among the valid points in the blog comments and media coverage — it was triggering and painful for some, seemed inappropriate to others, or was just not to some people’s taste in poetry — were some truly bizarre themes:

    1) Amanda Palmer has made the bombings all about herself… Really? This was repeated on Salon, at Buzzfeed, on a bunch of other blogs — all of whom were really the ones making this all about Amanda Palmer. She wrote a poem. They turned it into a news story about Amanda.

    2) … because she is a narcissistic attention-seeking media whore. I’ve never understood why this is such fuel for the anti-Amanda folk. The shred (and it is just a shred, not a whole … umm … shredded wheat nugget thing) of truth to this statement is, to me, one of many likable qualities that makes Amanda a great performer. And it’s balanced by humility, which is what makes her such a great collaborator. So even in general I don’t understand it, but in this specific case it’s a mystifying criticism.

    She posted a poem to her own blog for her own community. If you think she did it for the attention, here’s a tip — ignore it! That’ll show her.

    But most surreal was the “griefing” episode of hundreds of kids led by instructions on Twitter came to make comments that poems should rhyme. Kids today! We need to get them out on the streets so they can stop making trouble!

    And now comes the part where the more long-standing-axe-grindy of the anti-Amanda crowd stomp their feet because this isn’t an apology, because you never apologize, and you have, in your past, done these 6 things they don’t approve of and you never apologized for those either. You just brazenly go on being yourself despite their disapproval!! How dare you!!

    Well done weathering this storm with your usual grace, Amanda. You keep showing us how it’s done!

  • Cyanopica

    Have you read “Nipple Jesus” by Nick Hornby? It’s a funny short story about visions and reactions on art.

    everything is art (at least not simultaneously and for everyone).
    Otherwise the word “art” itself, due to being implicit, would be

  • Caroline

    This is some of the most self-indulgent, masturbatory, egotistical nonsense I’ve ever read.

    You are hijacking the concept of art so that you can publicly masturbate to your own inner thoughts as if they are so deeply profound, and then plug your ears and shield your eyes in response to the people who have legitimate criticisms about it. You are hiding behind the excuse of “that’s what art does! it polarizes people!” in order to live in your own bubble of self-indulgence, and to make yourself immune to anyone who has anything to say against you.

    This is not “art”. Neither is acting out a rape scene with Margaret Cho (remember that? still waiting for an apology to all the survivors you triggered so badly). Calling your bullshit “art” does not excuse you for your legitimate shameful acts.

    You are not as wise as you think you are, dear.

    ps- If you want me to suffer through your poem again (as if I missed something so deeply intuitive and profound about it the first time I read it), I would only ask that you read people’s criticisms of it again in return. Read them again.

    • wilder125

      So, people who write about feelings, etc on livejournal and places like that are ok. But when she does it… man, it’s like a whole different planet or something

      • Marionette26

        I was thinking about that today. People who write on other blogs usually don’t have large followings. The followers they have are generally friends and family who share their same views. They certainly don’t have 25,000 fans who they have an obligation to – and she does have an obligation to us. She has a relationship with us, one based on mutual respect and love, and she has an obligation to uphold that relationship. So, she might sometimes have an obligation to censor herself in some manner in order to uphold that relationship. I’m not saying always, and I’m not sure that this was a case for that or not… but she really can’t just go posting things flippantly anymore, can she? She has a lot of people who count on her and rely on her, and a lot of people who she could hurt that she has to take into consideration.

        • Esmertina Bicklesnit

          That’s interesting. My first reaction is, she has no obligation to us other than to be exactly who she is, and part of being her fan is understanding that you won’t always agree with her artistic choices.

          But that’s not really what you’re saying. You’re not saying she has an artistic obligation to us as fans to produce art we will like, you’re saying having a large number of fans gives you the power, potentially, to hurt a lot of people.

          That’s interesting. And scary, and makes me glad I don’t have that power.

          But I’m still not entirely sure I agree … does she have more power than anyone else in the public eye? Mel Gibson’s antisemitic blowups, Charlie Sheen’s bizarre behavior, LL Cool J’s unfortunate lyric choices on Accidental Racist … did those hurt people, or were they just tabloid fodder? It seems people are expecting more from Amanda than they do from other celebrities.
          The connection and the community we have does not give us veto power over Amanda’s behavior. She doesn’t have to check in with us first for a vote before following her impulses. But maybe there’s still something to what you say … maybe there’s a mindfulness that does stop her from doing or saying some things. Maybe she’s thinking, man, if you could see the things I DIDN’T do :)

          • Marionette26

            I hold Amanda to a different standard than any other celebrity because she’s always presented herself as different. She presents herself as having a very deep, in depth, connected relationship with her fans. She’s constantly tweeting with us, really truly hearing us. She responds to us on here and on the app. She takes real time for us at shows and at signings – she really does care about her fanbase. Did Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen have a fanbase like that? Even then, even though they don’t, their behavior probably did hurt some people. But Amanda has an incredibly close fanbase – and with that comes trust, and the ability for her to hurt us. With that comes a lot of responsibility.
            You’re right. We have absolutely no control over Amanda’s actions. It’s all in her hands. It’s completely up to her to think before she does something and to make responsible decisions. She’s got all that power, which I’m sure really sucks. She’s tweeted to the effect of saying she really didn’t think this would happen… so maybe she did think, and she just didn’t see this as a possible outcome. And you’re right, for all I know, she does censor herself some already – she is pretty self aware and she does care a lot about us.

            And I want to be clear. I totally love her – even with all this drama. I don’t expect more out of her than I expect out of myself or my family or my friends; I’m careful with how I phrase sensitive things, I don’t say some things, and I expect people around me to be aware of other people’s feelings as well. Because I care about Amanda more than any other celebrity, and I feel like she has such a great relationship with her fans, I expect her to treat them the way I treat others and expect others to treat others, is all. She just has a lot more people to be aware of.

          • Esmertina Bicklesnit

            I think that’s a downside of the connectedness. It’s not really fair to ask anyone

      • luci_fer

        Agreed. There seems to be a distinct separation between the suggestion that something controversial posted in a public space is deliberately provocative/offensive, and the suggestion that it’s a personal blog generally used a form of expression and communication to a specific group of people (her fanbase).

        …Not that I’m wishing to go there, but the same division and disagreement over this space also happened with the kerfuffle.

    • in love <3

      Caroline….will you marry me?

    • Hannah Schuetz

      Can you define the concept of art for me then? I disagree with you, but I’m also genuinely curious. I’m a music major in college, and if you could define art for me, it would make my future teaching career a lot easier.

    • Bridget McGraw-Bordeaux

      well i mean, she also managed to make amanda todd about herself so…you know…

      • Sar-aaaghh H

        Pretty sure this was just a throwaway comment but that’s a poor argument/statement to make. It is her blog. She physically can’t project or present through a voice that isn’t her own, so to a degree it will always involve her, and how she connects to whatever she chooses to blog about. In those posts she mentioned she doesn’t own a tv/ keep up with internet news, so it was all news to her, personally i think she just wanted to share what it made her feel. like this poem. She also talked to Amanda’s mother beforehand out of respect, who ok’d the content. From what I remember there were definitely links to donate to Amanda Todd’s memory and AP was keen to steer any media attention towards the commenters of the blog rather than herself. Someone has to start the conversations.
        Don’t get me wrong, I can see how people on this blog (fans and non-fans alike) could have been offended by the poem, a. because it was written hastily b. because it was sent OUT into the world without any context to anyone who came across it, and c. for using a suspect’s name. I find the poem hard to indentify with myself because I’m far across the pond and can only see Boston on tv screens and websites, but empathy is so important..on the most basic human level, nothing to do with condoning someone’s actions just that aknowledgement that everyone is human, still human, stops the world turning into ‘us VS other’ which is how scare tactics work and arguably what some people in power want to see.
        I would much rather see hundreds of badly written (but hopefully well-written) poems on what has happened – different perspectives, how people are coping, opening up discussions, rather than seeing any words on the subject instantly some how off-limits – and that includes people who disagree about this poem’s message. I just fail to see what makes empathising with the ‘boston bomber’ any different to the empathy in Strength Through Music? I don’t remember a similar uproar over that. But then again it was written over a longer time period(?), long after the event, with more care and attention.

  • eyelikethewordflume

    They’re watching you. Δ

  • Emily Michelle

    I remember during 911, everyone wanted justice, and some I think, wanted Revenge for this country. It made me feel American, I guess, but I couldn’t help but remember the day Osama Bin Laden was killed. At my campus, students were running flags outside and shouting, like a party. But I couldn’t help but wonder- somewhere, in another part of the world, his family is upset. His family might be wondering… his friends… why he needed to do it? Was it worth it? Could they have possibly prevented it? And maybe they didn’t at all… but in that aspect I feel guilty. Every time any one is attacked, whether it be another shooting or terrorist attack- shouldn’t we focus on maybe helping these individuals.. and maybe this reality never happening?

  • Tessa

    There are people that are born dead. You cannot fix them. They lack, empathy, sympathy, Sometimes it is nurtured hatred and sometimes it is just the way they are. If they are killers they need to be extinquished. Google Sugarland Texas Murders and see interviews with the killer. They are snakes.

    • Marionette26

      I googled that because I’m morbid and a lot of things came up, different crimes (with different criminals). Which one were you talking about?

  • Jason Hornbuckle

    why some people feel empathy for the perpetrator is morally superior to empathy for the still unburied victims or for victims still in danger of dying is beyond me.

    the poem itself isn’t very good but who cares about that. not even you since you didn’t take 10 minutes to write it. Your attitude sucks but who cares about that either. I’ll have forgotten you forever 5 seconds after i hit the enter key on this

    • Esmertina Bicklesnit

      I broke up with Christianity a long time ago, but seems I remember it very clearly was considered to be morally superior to love your enemies than those it is easy to love.

      That’s not my faith so moral superiority is pretty meaningless to me. But isn’t it a little strange that the idea is so repugnant to so many?

  • Maleficent

    I’d love to see some empathy for those of us who did not like the poem or those who did not understand it. I find it rather hypocritical that those preaching empathy, do not extend it to people who disagree with them. I’m a big Amanda Palmer fan, but that doesn’t mean I agree with her about everything, it doesn’t mean I love everything she produces as an artist. And that’s ok. It does not make me a hater. Strong dissenting reactions happen because we all have different personalities, life experiences, and mindsets. I’m not a bad person for not having empathy for a terrorist, or for reacting negatively to an Amanda Palmer blog entry. Some of you act like you are approaching Nirvana because you feel pity for the bad guy.

    • Nocty

      I thought that this blog post encouraged dissenting opinions and discussion and that Amanda expressed admiration for those who voiced their dislike of the poem.

      Thank you, Maleficient, for pointing out empathy works both ways to those who missed it first time round, reading this blog.

      (edited as unfinished when posted)

      • Maleficent

        My post was directed to all the “Number 1 Fans” of Amanda Palmer who lashed out at every criticism of her blog entry.

        • wilder125

          The funny thing is. I’m a fan of Neil who happens to like Amanda’s tweets. And only listened to one song while being distracted by the video Neil shared of his wife in which she was naked in a tub and singing in one of her official music videos. Maybe some day I’ll open that app on my phone up and listen to something.

        • Nocty

          I got that. I agree I didn’t make that clear though. Reading this comment section, it feels like many people have jumped to Amanda’s defense without taking in what she has written above.

          Discussion for all!

        • ihateamandapalmer

          Amanda encourages this. It’s part of her personality disorder. She’s all “peace-n-love” then she incites her fans to attack dissenters. In fact, she is pretty fast & loose with the word “haters”.

          • wilder125

            No.. I’m pretty sure she incited me at 7:15 am yesterday morning to click on her blog and read the poem from my phone, out of a sound sleep with a tweet about someone saying they wished her legs would get blown off

          • Bridget McGraw-Bordeaux

            no it’s true. i think that after mocking disabled feminists for not being psyched about evelyn/evelyn i (as a disabled feminist) was put on the defensive. then when i started tl calm down about it, she raged about some journalist who gave the show a bad review, claimed he missed the point of music entirely and then dug up a youtube video of his experimental percussion group and posted it on her blog. it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that his page was then flooded with fans white knighting for amanda. it was on par with doxing someone on 4chan

            so yeah, it’s all peace and love and love and art as long as we’re all on the same page. otherwise, we’re compassionless bastards who don’t get art/music/feminism/whatever the fuck is being sold that week

          • val

            i can’t believe it !! some of the haters follow Amanda on her blog since the Evelyn Evelyn ?? are you masochistic or does it makes you feel good to fuel hatred or are you trying to proove you right disagreeing with everything she posts ? can’t you just move on ?

            it is so sad…

          • Bridget McGraw-Bordeaux

            I’m not a hater though. i don’t have to be a fan of the person to be a fan of the art, right? I don’t try to fuel hatred and I -don’t- reply to every blog post and I have in fact commented positively on more than a few blog posts (though in all thruthfullness this is the first time I’ve attached my FB profile to the blog) but as it stands I own every DD album and all of Amanda’s solo stuff. So yes, please continue to tell me how hateful and sad I am because I enjoy her music, in theory enjoy a lot of the discussions she provokes, but don’t 100% agree with her. After that maybe you can lecture me on empathy.

        • luci_fer

          I’m not going to defend something she says or does if I don’t agree with it, but you do understand, presumably, as “a big Amanda Palmer fan” that her blog post is probably going to be read by “Number 1 Fans” of Amanda Palmer…right? I mean, her blog and her twitter account are where she communicates with her fans. I mean, if she’s posting it on a news site, fine, it’s a broad variety of people reading. If she’s posting it to her blog?…It’s probably going to be read primarily by her fanbase…

          But sure, there’s no reason not to discuss it reasonably and critically. But as much as there might be people willing to leap to her defence because they’re ‘number 1 fans’ there’s also people who’ve come here specifically because ‘ihateamandapalmer’ and want to post about it, so, y’know, it probably evens out…

    • wilder125

      disagree is one thing. A hell of a lot of the vitriol that made the ones who disagreed sick and wish the idiots would go bury themselves in the sand somewhere, on the other hand…

      • Maleficent

        Again, I go back to the hypocrisy of preaching empathy, but not extending it to even those being preached to.

        • AxlReznor

          It’s possible to empathise with someone that still makes you sick to your stomach by wishing a woman gets her legs blown off for writing a poem… no matter how insensitive they deemed it to be.

          • Stefanie

            More impossible than empathizing with someone that actually blew off multiple people’s legs?

          • Stefanie

            More impossible than empathizing with someone that actually blew off multiple people’s legs?

          • Stefanie

            Wait, I read your comment wrong. Terribly sorry.

        • Esmertina Bicklesnit

          What form would that empathy take?

          • Steve McCroskey

            Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines

    • Hannah Schuetz

      I grapple with this sometimes. Am I really being open, or just being a dogmatic liberal?

      But I feel like reminding ourselves of empathy is important. Even if we don’t feel it, do we know why we do or we don’t? Because a little empathy in the heart of the bomber might have stopped it. We don’t always feel empathy but devaluing it is dangerous.

      I don’t want to justifiy lack of empathy when someday I could be the one at ground zero.
      And even more than that, I want to make sure I don’t find my finger on a trigger someday.

      • Paul White

        The difference is, people who grasp the fundamental importance of empathy can hypothetically embrace the non-empathetic, but the non-empathetic by definition cannot return the generosity. It is not that a lack of empathy is “wrong” or “evil”, simply that a lack of empathy for other humans (and then other life, and eventually our whole existence) will hasten our self-destruction. It’s a practical matter as much as a moral one. Empathy will lead to increased survival and better life conditions, while a militant non-empathy is needed to truly kill well. The bombers were showing a distinct lack of empathy, and it would be unfortunate if their actions infected everyone with the same inability to understand each other.

    • emma

      Of course no one is required to agree with everything someone you’re a fan of does. In my initial reading of the poem, I saw no real empathy towards the terrorist, except for basic humanity about being scared and dying hiding in a boat.
      And please no one twist my words to say ‘what about empathy towards those hurt by the explosion’ or ‘he deserves no pity’… everyone deserves pity. Everyone deserves forgiveness. Everyone deserves a look at life to determine what led them down that path and a chance to change it for someone else.

  • Nabs D

    I understand that it is just easier to dehumanize a person who’s just commited such a cowardly and horrible act, it is better this way so we can all hate him and root for the police and clap when he gets the death sentence. If we think of him as a regular 19 year old boy who went to college and had friends and laughed and had a family, it becomes somewhat difficult.

    I am pretty sure that if I had lost someone, or had been in there, I would be scared, angry, sad, and even other feelings that can’t be put into words because this was just too horrible.

    So yes, let’s think of him in this way, because what he did is grotesque, because there are no excuses for what he and his brother did, there are “explanations” perhaps (like maybe they were abused as children by their father, maybe his older brother brainwashed him, maybe they were mentally ill, actual psychopaths) but NO EXCUSES.

    I understand all of this, and I too hope he gets the punishment he deserves, especially if this will bring at least some small degree of peace to the victims and the people who love them.

    But- about this poem, I really don’t see what is offensive about it. Perhaps it’s too soon to write poems about it and put them out there, perhaps everyone is still in shock, perhaps it hurts some people… BUT… perhaps some people just automatically ASUMED it was offensive because of these same reasons, perhaps the people who found it offensive didn’t try to understand it, perhaps they put too much importance into it, perhaps they’ve never written anything in difficult periods of their lives so they don’t understand how other people do it, perhaps it scared them that it somehow made a human out of this monster…

    Because he IS a monster, to most people, he is a horrible human being who ruined hundreds of lives and then went to party. And like I said before, we all want to think of him as a monster, we need to think of him as a being devoid of a heart and feelings- we can’t think of him laughing and hugging his mother because then he somehow becomes like us, and some people can’t handle that, especially not the ones affected by him.

    But the truth is, he IS a human being wether we like it or not. And I think that is all this poem is trying to say… is he a good human being? OF COURSE NOT, but can he feel fear and pain and mourn for his brother? Yes. Should we feel bad for him? That’s up to you. I personally don’t feel bad for him, I think we all have to face hardships and nothing in this life excuses hurting innocent people, not even his age, his circumstances, nothing- but you might think differently.

    So, I think this poem is just about ONE person trying to cope with what happened- which is Amanda, because some people seem to forget that she is from Boston, that she loves her city, that she is an American and that she is an artist. It’s fine if you didn’t like the poem, it’s fine if you think it’s stupid for someone to write poems during something like this, it’s fine- but if you’re bothering yourself with answering on her blog, and you’re taking the time to attack her, at least take a few more minutes to really try to understand what the poem is about, not just because she decided to write a poem about him and leave the word “monster” and “evil” out of it it means she’s being offensive towards the victims, it doesn’t mean she’s on his side, it doesn’t mean she’s excusing him in any way…

    And here I’m copy-pasting my reply to someone in this blog:

    I know we all understood different things from the poem, but I am pretty sure it is NOT about Dzokhar’s actual FEELINGS, but about scenes from life, like still photographs, frozen moments of little things that were happening at the moment, I imagined this poem like a movie, and I understood that most lines in it were scenes that were happening to people during this tragedy- like there were different characters in it, and we were looking at them like in a movie, and these scenes were all regular human experiences that happen to us during tragedies… it made me think of the funeral of one of my boyfriend’s best friends, and how we were there and his mother was almost catatonic, and everyone was crying, and it was a real tragedy, and I went to get some tea for me and my boyfriend but the guy who made the tea didn’t give me the one I wanted, and for some reason whenever I think of that horrible, horrible day I always think of that tea…
    It’s these scenes of life that make us humans…

    And I think this was the intention of the poem- not to put Dzokhar’s FEELINGS into words, but to put these little, stupid scenes into words, Amanda didn’t know how many vietnamese soft rolls to order while this boy who had just commited a horrible crime hid under a boat, and you were sitting on your computer watching a YouTube video of puppies, and somewhere on the other side of the planet there was a girl crying in the shower because her boyfriend is cheating on her, and Dzokhar was thinking about his dead brother, and the family of the victims were hugging in the hospital, and three blocks away there was an old lady making soup for her husband…

    So, these are not superficial feelings, this is just life, that thing that happens to us ALL: nurses, truck drivers, firefighters, porn stars, Johnny Depp, your 3rd grade teacher, the writers of The Big Bang Theory, your neighbor and Dzokhar Tsarnaev…

  • Meagan Elizabeth

    *. . .Just Sing. . .*

  • Doug Wexler

    this poem & explanation makes me feel like im shitting out a cactus

  • teatree

    AMANDA i love you :)

    Your music has helped me and many of my dear friends to survive the most difficult times of our lives.

    You are a good, brave and talented artist. I look up to you more than ANYONE ELSE.

    Sometimes I come to your blog to read the comments of your community. They are very open-minded and caring people who support each other. Right now that is scary territory… lots of very strong feelings. I wish people could express their opinions without demonizing you.

  • Johnny Alpha

    Over 130 lines of blog post and one, count ‘em, one line referring to the victims of the bombing. And not how the victims must have felt, but rather how she felt upon hearing about the victims. Essentially she is saying that she she wrote the thing in haste (9 minutes), so she should be held less accountable for the content within. It was casual! (read: careless). She admits to being afraid that “more people are asking the first set of questions (who can I blame , etc.) which is a presumptuous, and possibly a projection, so she feels the need to school the common folk on her superior view that we should be asking the second set of questions, AS IF WE AREN’T asking why this happened, and how can we better understand? If you want a short explanation of why people are outraged by this poem it’s because people are sick and tired of seeing their fellow citizens get slaughtered only to have a certain segment of the population immediately (before the dead are even put in the ground) gravitate towards the perpetrators with their loving kindness rather than the victims. There is even a whiff of an attempt to actually turn the perpetrators onto the victims, which is insulting to the REAL victims, and exemplifies the dangerous trend toward the excusing of odiously immoral behavior, out of a twisted and simplistic view of moral relativity.

    • Nocty

      At no point has anyone suggested that the bomber shouldn’t be held accountable for his actions, or should be excused. What people have done is wonder what goes through the mind of a killer. There is an attempt to understand their psychology, not to negate it, but to understand. There’s no real ‘loving kindness’ here. It’s not like she’s written that she wants to hug him better or anything. He must have been scared hiding in that boat. That’s a fact. How you react to that is up to you. She is as entitled to have her philosophy and expound it as much as you are. You condemn her in pompous language for a stance you see as presumptuous and yet you criticise her for not having the presumption to imagine how the victims felt.
      Another point on that front is that much of the action of the poem takes place while the crisis was underway. She was not inhabiting a space separate from the victims in which to view them – she could have been a victim herself, when she was locked in her house, looking at bushes in case a killer hid inside. This reaction of fear she feels originally is an example of the first set of questions superceeding the second.
      The perpetrators are victims, unless you believe that they were predestined to commit atrocities. They are the victims of an ideology that drove them to this extreme.

      • Johnny Alpha

        OK, I’ll agree that “the perpetrators are victims” if you’ll allow me to get up on a podium at a feminist ant-rape rally and talk about how Republican frat boys who rape teenage girls are also “victims”. BTW, your comment regarding Ms. Palmer’s poem was more thoughtful, and took more time to write than she took to think about or write the poem herself.

        • Nocty

          I, personally, would allow you to do that, although I have no doubt that anyone who did so would get torn to pieces! My view is consistent – they would be victims too, as their moral compass is so skewed that they think that that is acceptable. I don’t think this takes anything away from the victims, if anything, it’s even more alarming that a segment of society does react in that way (e.g. Steubenville and CNN) but I do think that looking at things which may have caused criminals to act in the way they do and trying to resolve those issues is a more effective way of preventing crime than branding people evil criminals as though they are an unpredictable anomaly.

          In the case you present there may be steps that could be taken to prevent similar incidents. I’m no expert, but things like seeing women in more positions of authority, men being better educated to not look down on women, the ending of fraternities, and, of course, a general societal shift in which rape is more condemned than it is now, and I mean by that that it should not even be debated whether a short skirt or previous sexual conduct gave a boy the wrong impression.

          However, I do not think this takes away personal responsibility. We all make decisions as to how we behave, and we all develop our own sense of justice. I believe that society should strive to make it easier for us to make the ‘right’ choices for ourselves, largely through education. This is idealistic, I know, and however inclusive society may become there will always be those it fails. I also know it is very old school to blame society for our woes, but I firmly believe that our attitudes are influenced not only by individual inclination, but by our experiences and surroundings, so for me, it is of paramount importance that society supports and enables the citizen to lead a happy and productive life.

          Back to the poem, I don’t really think it matters how long it took to compose. I, personally, don’t really like it that much, but I do find it interesting as a response to crisis. If it had been thought about, planned, drafted, polished, well, it would be a different poem, (ha, tautology much?) but I mean that in both the sense that it would probably have taken a wildly different form and also differ in content, but it also wouldn’t be a personal response to events unfolding, but generally more reflective on the whole crisis. For me, it would then lose some artistic merit, and seem unnecessary. The idea that it is a cathartic response of a frightened woman, albeit of a celebrity with some notoriety and a large audience, does make up for its lack of finesse, as its raw emotion and insight into psychology gives it a certain interest.

    • Coach K


    • Hannah Schuetz

      but have your only thoughts since the tragedy been about the victims? I suppose you could argue that if it was more about her, then she should bury the reference to the tragedy…but come on. How long did you take to write this post? One minute, three? How accountable do you think we all should be for our words?

    • Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Well to be fair, her two earlier blogs about the bombings had many many lines and pictures about the victims, and not a single one about vietnamese soft rolls. So, you know.

  • Christie

    AFP, you are FB (fucking brilliant)! Your blog posts, the way you express yourself causes me to utter “Fuck Yeah” a lot of the time. You and Neil seem like people I would love to hang out with because not only can I see the conversation opening up my mind and my heart but also because it would be so much fun while it was happening.

    Okay with that being said, I did post something on FB that I hesitated posting because I was concerned about the potential comments it could get. In the end, I had to post it…I realized that how I felt was at that moment more important that how anyone could possibly tell me how to feel. I am open to hearing what others have to say and there are times when, I admit, I can see things a bit differently after the conversation and there are other times when I believe what I believe and that’s that. Here is what I posted. I did get a couple of comments, nothing hateful. I am still struggling with the whole situation, trying to wrap my brain around it all.

    “As a mother of a 19 year old son, the same age as this kid, I am having a really hard time with this. I can’t understand what would possess him to do what he did and what thoughts must be going through his head right now. I find myself wanting to protect him and then I think of all the people that have been killed and hurt and all I can ask myself is what would I do if this were my son?”

    Thanks for being you and continuing to stand in your truth!

  • Ami

    Oh eugh! You are all just attention whores! All of you. EVEN ME. All I see here is a lot of nonsensical ranting about a stupid poem and a lot of nauseating ‘American pride’ blah blah “I care SO much people have been blown up because it happened in my country instead of in…you know, one of those foreign countries where it doesn’t matter quite so much because I don’t live there. Omg isn’t Amanda a big insensitive meanie”. Get over it. This crap isn’t helping. This ‘discussion’ isn’t bringing people back from the dead. This isn’t growing legs, arms or faces back. This isn’t rebuilding shattered nerves and it certainly isn’t turning back the clock. This whole poetry ‘controversy’ is just ridiculous, just be thankful you are still alive, perhaps do something productive like crochet a hat – instead of sitting at the computer throwing metaphorical shit at eachother. It disgusts me how upset and distressed you are all pretending to be when if that really was the truth you wouldn’t be arguing over *this*. Humans, stop being so human.

    • wilder125

      Shh.. I’m nonsensically reading while eating barbeque pork and drinking mineral water. In the south. Can’t go barefoot in the mud at work though. Dang northern southerner supervisor

  • FIDO

    If it took you nine minutes to write, why did you release it? The idea of ‘9 minute art’ in this context seems a bit ridiculous. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to poets who take time to construct and hone their work. If anything your work only advances bad stereotypes which gloss over the subtly and complexity at the heart of poetry.

    • wilder125

      I released mine yesterday in reply to someone on that blog post, in 1 minute. 9 minutes is too damn long to me. It’s not like mine will ever be published, and I’m good enough to have any of it get a higher grade than barely passing in any college poetry class.

  • Brennub

    I did not read your initial poem, until after that giant shit storm took place. I was viewing it very much through the lens of having been written to the bombing suspect because I knew that’s what people thought. I liked it, but parts of it made less sense to me.

    Reading this made things clearer and makes me feel even worse about how out of hand things got. What makes me cringe even more is some of the hate I’m still seeing flying around the comments. Especially given that this post is all about empathy and stuff and that just makes me feel like people are missing the point.

    I hope this stuff doesn’t get you down <3

  • mandyoliverio

    I think we have to be very careful about separating the art from the artist from the person. While they are all interconnected entities, they are individual beings. You hate the poem? Then say you hate the poem. Don’t say you hate Amanda fucking Palmer the artist, or Amanda Palmer the person. I don’t view the poem as ‘bad tribute art’ I view it as a stream of consciousness from someone who was confused, scared, and angry and trying to make sense of something that didn’t make sense. Weren’t we all? I live in Belmont, less than a mile away from the events that transpired in Watertown. I can tell you the events of last week were scary and confusing, and I felt mixed emotions having empathy for both the bombing victims and the bombers. In the end though, weren’t we all just hurting, but in different ways? It’s scary to me that people can just turn off empathy, can turn on hatred over something as small as a piece of writing that was only meant to try to sort out feelings. It’s scary to me how cynical people can be. The minority of us will be forever changed by the events over the past week. We will forever see our lives as different. Our outlook will have changed. But for the majority of us, we feel the closeness of the community, the interconnectedness of having something in common that pulls us together and allows us a more human and humane connection with each other. but it is all a mirage, in a week or two from now we will be back to our normal lives, and our circles will become more and more closed and less and less widened and overlapping, and this scares me more than any bomb.

    • Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Well said. And likewise, many people who have posted here hate the artist (referencing things she has formerly done that were controversial) or the person (referencing knowing her several years ago and not liking her much), and are lashing out against this poem.

      The whole “Morrissey is a miserable asshole but I still love his music” thing somehow never applies to Amanda. I am discovering that the people who hate her are MORE obsessed with her than the people who love her.

      Note — I’m not saying you don’t have valid reasons to hate her. Maybe she killed your puppy. I’m just saying it’s a little cuckoo to devote so much energy to loathing an artist. Being a fan is much easier to understand, because you get something out of it, there’s an exchange. I just can’t grasp what keeps fueling the hate, because it adds nothing positive to your life, and it’s so easy to just walk away and focus on things you love that make you happy instead.

      If the fans are a cult, at least we get tambourines and sparkly kaftans*. What do the people who hate Amanda get along with membership in their cult? I’d be a little afraid to open the welcome kit.

      * Sparkly kaftans isn’t but should be a protected RiverVox trademark, used having not asked for but hoping I would have received her permission :)

  • Kaliani

    Well, thank you for the poem, and everything that led to me finding you, in this national poetry month. Excellent words, and thoughts- thank you for thinking, and feeling, and hurting, in poems, (even if they don’t rhyme!) ;) and for what it’s worth, I think you should publish the poem and its inspired responses in a book. Some day when we as a nation are more sane, we might look back to it for some insight to these times. And I like the support button, and I supported you. Artists have always been supported by their communities- why not? Peace.

  • Gaby

    That poem post was the first ever blog post of yours that I’d ever been upset about. I thought about it as you thinking you knew how the kid with the tube currently down his throat feels

    and that is ignorant,

    you being ignorant was upsetting because I and everyone who reads your blog know otherwise of you

    we know you have the most honest thoughts and feeling

    and that’s why we love you and that’s why we spend so much time with harsh feedback

    but what made more sense is that the poem was how you felt,with dzhokar being the source and his doing projecting on to how you felt, and we should have known that

    thank you for clarifying, I’m sorry

    love,one of the many upset fans


  • Denise Bickford

    beautiful lady! thank you for making me not afraid to empathize and remain objective until we know the full story.

  • Marlene Wolff

    I feel like you are a related soul to me, sounds weird, but you seem so close in thoughts about the world, about people in this world. reading your blog helps me a lot out of the confusion I often feel about this hole life. I am a person who shares a lot of her feelings, just so people can understand who I am and what I deal with. I also like to get to know people better by listening to them, really listening, because I am sure: If everyone learns to listen again, learns to listen to the needs of other, not just their own, not just the ones the very close community around them has, this world would become a little more friendly.
    I am thankful for your AFP- Fans, cause it seems like these people all share feelings. Your one and only concert I went to last November, I am scared of crowds and never go to concerts, has given me so much, course I learned: There are people out there feeling and sharing feelings, being kind to each other, really meaning it! Thank you all!

  • Reznore

    I still don’t like poetry…
    I agree with the empathy part , and how if we are divided , it makes it really easier to hurt each other.

    You can see this with all the violence against women , usualy the word “whore” will be used again and again.

    It’s like little boxes to put people in ,and then they’re not really human or worthy anymore , and it’s ok to hurt them.

    You can feel a level of empathy for terrorist and still strongly feel they are piece of shit.

    On a different note , thinking about the victims (and people who were around), I thought a lot of them may end up with PTSD ….I suffered from it years ago (I’m ok now ) I talked once with a american soldier who suffered from it too ( another soldier walked on a bomb and sort of fall on him , and died on his arms) and the only solution the doctor told him about was medication….

    Yoga and meditation also help…

  • Musings


    I am conflicted. Here’s why: I had been trying for 4 days to write a poem about my feelings about the Boston Marathon. That’s right — 4 days, and then I read yours, and out it came. So. I appreciate that you shared something and that you’re a muse. I appreciate that this space gave me a place to publish where people actually read what I wrote.

    But. You wrote a poem in “9 minutes”, and that’s the poem that when people search for “Boston marathon poem” these days, or even just “poem”, they will find. This poem that you could have written or not written, posted or not posted, that you named what you did but you could have named a thousand things — that’s the poem that’s the number one in the news, not the thousands of others by people who make their living off of poetry, not the poetry by people who spent hours trying to process, not the poetry by those who didn’t just come to realize National Poetry Month was this month yesterday, not even the beautiful poem that Robert Pinsky found by Carlos Drummonde de Andrade, “Sovenir of the World”, in response to the Boston Marthon bombing. Find it here:

    So when you say that “when’s the last time a thousand people argued about a poem” or joke about the anti-Amanda verse to be published, or that all of the people posting hatefully is art too, it seems a little bit mocking of people who make their living of reading and writing poetry. When you talk about “hate and fear” and the right way to receive it, you risk sounding like the be all end all in processing grief.

    I find it hard to believe that after Kickstarter (and the Kickstarter controversy) and TED talks you still believe that your voice only exists in the bubble of Dresden Doll fandom. You threw your art to the masses, and now it’s theirs too. That’s the beauty of art, the reality, and the scariness of publishing it. If someone reacted in a way I did not expect to a poem I wrote, I would have two possible responses: 1) Wow, it’s really cool that you brought that to it, or 2) Wow, I really didn’t mean that and I need to rethink the way I wrote it. To dismiss people and tell them to “Read again” or “Read wider” is to miss the audience’s part in the art, which I think is something you would appreciate.

    If you really believe in empathy, then step into the other side of the conversation. It’s not only about hate and fear on that side and it’s not only about “misinterpreting” what you put out there. Really, listen, to people’s concerns – about the title — about the perspective — about how using your strong voice to express your feelings could make it seem like it’s all about you.

    • Musings

      Ha – I mean – Amanda, of course.

    • hatingtrolls

      Goddamn that poem Pinksy posted is good. And what a self-effacing gesture to post a poem by another poet in a translation by yet another poet.

    • hatingtrolls

      Also, Musings, your post is awesome.

  • jesse00000

    publishing poetry is not the same thing as writing poetry.

    you’ve built a career upon your excitement over the advent of the megaphone. it’s ridiculous of you to spend all your free time enjoying your use of your megaphone and then, when people who are trying to sleep complain about how inconsiderate you’re being, refuse responsibility for any wrongdoing. intention is completely irrelevant. if i got judged for my intentions rather than my actions maybe i’d be president.

    and that is giving you the benefit of the doubt; your blog bursts at the seems with histrionism and you’re far too intelligent not to know better. i would love to be able to consider your actions naive, but they’re not. they’re disingenuous.

    and if is anyone hoping for any sort of vengeance by responding to amanda in any way, the efforts are all in vain. any and all attention directed toward this blog/poem do nothing but feed her ego. even now, after legitimately offending countless people, there is only “art” to be made of it. all of the hurt and anger she has caused has merely been perverted into a self-serving journal entry. expect to see your comments printed out and taped to her body in a photograph on the cover of her next vinyl; three cover songs on bongos and an original, with lyrics comprised entirely of the hate poetry written by other people, all performed live at an auschwitz ninja gig. and she can do this, because she IS THE MEDIA.

    • sosickofamandaplamer

      very insightful comment. it’s true that she feeds off of all of this (like a vampire; attention of any kind is her sustenance). I would agree with just one of your comments, and that is that I don’t think Amanda legitimately understands what she’s doing. she has a severe personality disorder such that her intelligence is of no use to her. she acts out of deeply buried motivations which she must remain defended against.

      • Scott

        you are out of line and over-board with your comments – I’m wondering if you’re the boundless narc. that you accuse her of being.

        • Bridget McGraw-Bordeaux

          based on the twitter orgasmfest she seems to be having over this controversy i tend to be on the same page as sickof. which sucks because i have (as a former boston resident) been a fan from the very beginning…but these constant seemingly obvious attention grabbing acts (mocking journalists, fake raping katy perry, mocking the disabled) followed by insincere non apologies gets really old. To be fair, if this were another artist i probably wouldn’t care, but when one’s craft is so carefully designed to be “Real” and “honest” and “open” and yet the only real/honest/openness seems to take place between her and the people kissing her ass…it gets old. it makes being a fan kind of embarrassing, though maybe i’ve just outgrown this stuff.

  • Hannah Schuetz

    I love this.

    Because it’s all the ugliness of humanity.

    The internet lets us share this.

    fear, hope, vitriol, defensiveness, self-righteousness, disrespect, pain, love, hope, anger, action without thought, questions, questions, questions

    And then I was sad, because as I wrote a rather mundane play by play of my 15 minute interaction with this poem, I thought about how few of these comments we reply to directly. That we all kind of shout our two cents into the void. And it contributes to this mass discussion, but it’s not the same as an actual discussion or debate.

    All of it’s messy. And people are messy. Art reveals that. So too, does the internet. Perhaps even better.

    • Hannah Schuetz

      ignorance too. that was the other word I forgot. we’re all quite ignorant of each other unless we take the precious time to really have dialogue…and this is kind of dialogue, but I feel like maybe there could be a better word. A bunch of monologues reacting to each other. multilogue?

  • Daniela Verónica

    I live in South America… and I agree with all you have said… you actually put words to my feelings, and I thank you for that… you helped to make everything clearer in my mind. People should not be afraid NEVER to express their feelings, that very same repression or self-repression leads to deeper problems. Some people in my country think… “why should we feel emphaty for americans when they have predated our land and our economy?” Just to give you and example… but YES WE CAN because we all are connected, the consecuenses are everybody’s business… THAT lack of emphaty is the very same seed of tragedies like what happened in Boston. We need to heal the symptoms but also care, and very much, about the root of the disease. All my love to you Amanda.

  • Victoria Pearson

    Very well said.

  • Malise Angie Hulme

    Every time people call for violence to combat violence I want to hide in a corner and weep. Both in the UK and the US I’ve been nearby for horrible things. I’ve had horrible things happen to me, too. But I have never understood how violence and anger are held up- as solutions to, well, anything.

    It’s easier, for us, as people, to paint someone as purely bad, as beyond humanity, to make them into something we can hate and blame. And something that we, ourselves, could never possibly be.

    It’s easier, but it’s wrong. Understanding why two human beings would do such a thing is the hardest and most important thing we can try to do. Because until we understand, or even just try to, we only prolong the hate. Until we get that they were people – sons, brothers, friends – just like us, we can’t evem begin to get around what went wrong, and how to stop it going wrong again.

    Over the years I’ve reacted to things with hate and anger, and with love and compassion: and I’ve learned that the first is no answer at all, and only the second can ever really make anything better.

    • 60 year old man

      if you do go into the corner to weep will u film it and send to me so i have something to stroke it to?

  • Martin O’Hare

    ur bang on right as usual. poems dont have to rhyme.
    empathy and sympathy, some people dont know the difference. like some people dont know the difference between their, they’re and there. it baffles me how some people dont understand.
    stop pretending art is hard. you’re so right
    art isnt hard.
    whay is it stephen fry said. i’m paraphrasing but something like “art is the extra we do not need but could never live without”
    art has always shined light on the scary stuff and encouraged communication and discussion.
    THAT’S what its for.
    let the haters hate.
    you’re doing a grand job cant wait til the roundhouse in camden! wooo-ya!

  • Kyrsten Smith

    I just wanted you to know I read this on the bus to school and cried. Unashamed and unabashed tears and I want to share this on every wall, every feed, every sign and bulletin board in the world. This was beautiful.


      insteada doing that you should move to north korea and ask kim jong il to blow ur dick off with a nuklear sploshin

  • Jim

    Amanda, in my opinion, there was nothing inherently wrong with your poem. I think, however, that given your kindly nature, you have (and have always) underestimated the amount of jealousy that is simmering against you in the arts scene. These people used this incident to percolate our of the woodwork and spew venom against you. They have always been jealous of your work ethic, your versatility, your selfless devotion to your fans, your cutting-edge use of the internet to grow your audience………..You are the most talented female artist in the U.S. today.

    • celestica

      is this a joke or

      • sosickofamandapalmer

        it’s from a cult member

    • Marionette26

      Dude. I love Amanda. But really? The hatred and anger and hurt coming at her has nothing to do with jealousy. Are you serious?

  • Jones

    I loved the line “you dont know how to get to New York” from your poem but never new what it meant until now.
    For the record – I enjoyed the ambiguity, but now Im puzzled as to why your life plans with Neil are falling apart. I like the wondering. The wondering keeps me calm in the wisdom of probabilities. But I do hope life is kinder to you and your plans manifest as best for you.

  • csdaley

    When I read the poem it moved me to write my own feelings. I think this is important. Art should make you feel something. Even if the something you feel is disagreement. However, if that disagreement becomes vicious and nasty then I think you have lost site of what it is to be a compassionate human being. We are not always going to agree but we should be able to do it without turning into that which we fear.

    Thank you again Amanda. I don’t always agree with what you have to say but I love that it always makes me examine how I feel. Here is what your poem made me feel this time. (A Tale of Anger, Hate, Words, & Love

  • Ztol

    Well Said thank you.

  • Jessica

    I am sorry you’re going through this, Amanda. It saddens me that the idea of trying to say “hey, he was a human too” is radical in today’s culture. Nothing will ever justify the disgusting, horrid, violent thing he did, but if we view him only as monster, we may never be able to fully understand what makes people this way and how to stop it.

    If it helps, I can identify with what you’re going through, but it wasn’t on a big a level as this. When hurricane Katrina happened, leaving so much destruction, I was a member of an online writing group. I live in the south but wasn’t in the path of Katrina or saw much damage, but, of course, it sparked a lot of concern over the victims and survivors no matter where you live. I wrote a short piece to help me cope with it and was written from the point of view of someone who knows Katrina is about to hit, that it’s too late to leave, and they deal with knowing they will most likely lose everything. They have a moment where they surrender all of it to Katrina, letting go of all their material goods in their mind, and focusing only on their survival.

    I published the piece one afternoon and left the writing group days later due to hate. I was told I was using this awful event for my own good (how many writers have written of true-life tragic events? It seems common) and some thought it was written from my point of view and that I was trying to get sympathy for something that most likely wouldn’t happen to me. I think part of why it was taken so strongly was because the event was still fresh at the time, like the bombing is now. People don’t know what to feel and it comes out as anger toward anyone who doesn’t mourn in the usual way. Now days my piece would fit a major film about the event and I believe one day your’s will too.

    Stay strong. I send love.

    • Doug Wexler

      where do u send the love, up her asshole while she cries and neil tells her to shut up?

      • Jessica

        I will only reply once to you so that those words are the only ones I offer to this conversation you opened. Be at peace, Doug. It’s a much, much better place than where you are right now.

        • doug wexler biiiiiitch

          everybody thinks they know where i am right now… i am laughing hard in my mansion at u asshoes running around like chickens with ur head cut off while amanda sits on a 60 foot high throne above u masterbating and enjoying the show. i am FILLED w/ peace.

  • Rosie

    I think part of the issue is that people forget that your poem, like any piece of art, doesn’t have a single ‘meaning’ defined by you. Art is created in the space between artist and consumer, it’s a little bit of you, a little bit of me, and a little bit of the magic of the medium. The poem doesn’t say ‘I’m Amanda and I feel really sorry for a bomber’, it says thousands of different things and lots of them you won’t have meant to say or realised were being said.

    Should we try to understand what art means? Of course. What we shouldn’t do is ever believe we’ve actually got there.

    I love the debate, but I’m sorry for the hate.

  • Danielle Ryan

    I just finished reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and Wilde’s introduction resonated with me so strongly, and here it speaks to me again. There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book (or poem). You expressed what you were feeling and if people responded negatively it was because of their own interpretations and feelings, not necessarily what you were saying.

    I have wondered for many years over the nature of evil, over what makes a person decide to hurt others. A lack of empathy is the first real step. By choosing not to have empathy for everyone, a person is cutting themselves off. If you cannot empathize with your fellow human beings, then what prevents you from being the cause of their suffering?

    Do I condone anything these two men did? Absolutely not. A thousand times over, no. Do I seek to understand what drove them to commit such atrocious acts, to understand why anyone would cause such suffering? Yes. Because in understanding, and in empathy, we can learn from the evils of others and use it to change the world.

    Your poem made me recoil at first, and I had to read it again after I read this blog. I felt things I wasn’t sure I wanted to feel, and that’s what art is. To quote another artist, Rob Zombie, “Art is not safe.”

    Thank you Amanda, for being brave enough and bold enough to put this kind of thing out there regardless of the backlash. Thank you for having the balls to use art to make people think.

  • Shawn

    I just wanted to comment to throw in my two cents. Firstly to all the “haters” who are “attacking” Amanda, I respect your right to have your opinion on things even if I disagree with you. The main arguments here seem to be that Amanda “made this all about her” and that it was “too soon” to write something like this. Here’s the thing: This is Amanda’s blog. Of course the stuff she writes in it are going to be about her, her feelings, and her goings on in life. That is the point, to express her feelings and how she felt/feels during certain events in life. If anyone else here blogs i’m sure you write plenty of things about how you feel about certain things and how they affect you personally.

    Another thing about that was how she talked about mundane things that went through her head during it (cell phone battery etc.) Well during this whole thing, was your mind on the tragedy 24/7? I’m sure you thought about stuff other than that at times that was pretty stupid as well, I know I did. Funny enough, I actually felt slightly guilty thinking of other stuff during it but then remembered “you know, it’s ok to keep living your life, it isn’t disrespectful.”

    The other thing was timing. This is tricky because I get the timing could have been seen as bad but honestly I think the reaction would have been the same if she wrote it a week, month, or year from now.

    In conclusion, if you were offended by it, i’m sorry you felt that way and I give you nothing but respect for your feelings and opinion, but I don’t think it is fair to criticize or vilify someone for expressing their own feelings on their own blog and how they personally feel/were affected. I guess i’m done now. Have a nice day everyone. Smiles!

    • celestica

      when you are putting your thoughts and ~*feelings*~ out there for everyone to see, you are subjecting yourself to possible criticism and scrutiny. that is how blogging works. that is how the internet works. that is how “art” works (and has always worked). and it is a perfectly legitimate thing. I think the defense of “it’s just her feelings!” is so asinine, it’s a lame-at-best attempt to make whatever you put out there publicly immune to those who may disagree.

      “It’s just her feelings” is a way of silencing meaningful dialogue before it can even begin.

    • iamsosickofamandapalmer

      dude … that’s right, it’s her blog that she uses to broadcast her thoughts, like a megaphone. it is PUBLIC. and she is a well-known FIGURE. she was on public radio talking about this same issue. C’mon, don’t be so naive.

      and nothing about this is her feelings. it’s just superficial crap she threw up to get attention for yet another event that has nothing to do with her.

      • Hannah Schuetz

        is that something you can know? With our heroes and our celebrities we have to take everything with a grain of salt. Yes, they need publicity to continue, but aren’t they humans too?

        I’m studying music education, and let me tell you something: there’s a certain inherant corruption in making a living off the thing you love most. But we do it anyway, because we can’t imagine anything else.

        How can you say it has nothing to do with her? If onlookers have nothing to do with events, then how the hell did our country justify the war in Iraq with 9/11?

  • Maleficent

    Life is short. I don’t want to read any more copypasta comments, news about the terrorist or the bombing, or all of us spitting on each other’s opinions over something so important and yet so trivial. I just want to go listen to Richie Havens, and ponder the lyrics of “Freedom”. Time to unplug for a bit. Peace.

  • Ay-me Wok-er

    Shocked is the wrong word for what I am–reading some of these comments–maybe I’m appalled. Oh, the bravery! The deep desire to rant rather than purposely making the effort to see things from a place of positivity or understanding. Hell no, let’s make it all dark and raging and primitive and finger-pointy! Because that attitude has nothing at all to do with the way human minds are shaped and affected. That attitude has nothing to do with what’s wrong in this world.

  • Tom
  • celestica

    I don’t think anyone who once chose to make the rape of a woman the punchline of a joke in a performance, and then ignore all the people who tried so hard to explain why such a performance was triggering as fuck and deeply hurtful to survivors of sexual assault, should EVER be lecturing us about empathy.

    Fuck off, Amanda.

  • Tanya Speed

    Thank you for this blog. I am a person that lives in fear….half clinical…okay mainly clinical. I have written poetry since I was 8. Afraid to share. I built my own little world when I was a kid and as I became an adult it got tighter and tighter. The walls higher and higher. But I have always quietly watched the world from this little prison I built and wanted to be a part of it. Over a year ago…after years of being afraid of everything, I started doing little things…posting a blog. Going to Chicago. etc etc. In February I came across one of your videos and my curiosity was sparked. I started watching your videos, reading your blog, googling news stories, watching interviews, listening to your music. And the walls of fear started breaking down. I am not saying that I want you to be my therapist …no. But I stalk what your posting and putting out there like a student in a classroom because you convey these amazing principles of how to beat fear. Hell…I’ve been having problems always afraid to ask anyone for help and your TED talk forced me to try and start asking people I love for help. Fear is something that I think a lot deal with….but it is a cage for me. And you as an artist are helping me face this monster and try to rid myself of it. This last week was the worst. I woke on Tues to find out about Boston …. through you. I turned to the media. On Wednesday a town in Texas lost many lives from a plant explosion which led me to research and learning how easy it is for fertilizer to kill….. How easy it is to learn how to make bombs. I turned to your blog because your community of fans are teaching me things. I learn more truth from them (usually) than the crazy rantings and fights of media sites and it always gives me peace and hope. (Hope was something I lost a long time ago….and I found it through connections on the internet bc I was able to see a community of people from all over the world sharing peacefully). Sunday I read your poem and I immediately started crying. I posted what I felt and immediately began to read the comments like I always do. Because your fans provide me hope too. And I got trapped there in this thread that took away a bit of hope about society and brought out fear. It made me feel panic. So I went to your twitter feed to see hope….I went to another site of your fans…friends I am making ….to see hope. Thank you for this post. It makes me feel better and shows that there are ways to stand up against fear. That it is just about expressing things through the confusion. I too turn to write. But when the fear is too strong, I become paralyzed in life. I know a lot of people are like me. I’ve met them. And it’s not a battle ….its a war. All I want is freedom….to keep my hope. To make connections with people and to love. And this blog is helpful. I hope that people understand…some of us out here, we need to see more love and less fighting so we can feel safe to be a part of this world instead of hiding from it. Thank you Amanda. Love and Peace.

    • miserichik

      This. <3 Tanya

      • Tanya Speed

        <3 xoxoxo

    • flynn99

      Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts. More love, less fighting – absolutely!

  • Ampersand

    When we stop talkin about things we stop feeling them.

    Our ability to feel anything after any event, good or bad, is what makes us human. Regardless of how any one person interpreted the poem, it created an emotional reaction in them. For that, I am truly grateful.

  • Alice

    To Amanda: I am so sorry you had to feel pain over this.
    To Everyone else, supporters and haters: I am so sorry you had to feel pain over this.

    Don’t worry, now comes the growth.

  • hatingtrolls

    What’s possibly most shocking to me is how ragingly pissed people are at empathizing with Dzokhar on the one hand, and how fawningly celebratory others are on the other. It’s should just be, like, a thing that’s done.

    • LOL

      I’m not sure. I haven’t seen anything like this since the Anita Bryant concert.

  • ProvokeMyShorts

    I think this song sums everything up very nicely indeed! >>>>

    • Iam Danceswithdachshunds

      Priceless! Where was this produced? Kleptanistan?

  • gooliaj

    You should write a sympathetic poem for the 4 people murdered, the young 8 year old…:-(

  • Kyle Anderson

    Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue

    • wilder125

      *sits up, freaks out, and leaps out a window screaming* I love Airplane

  • VirtualGandi

    When we stop trolling other people’s misery the Internet will have peace.

  • Bob

    They’ll stone you when you’re trying to be so good
    They’ll stone you just like they said they would
    They’ll stone you when you’re trying to go home
    They’ll stone you when you’re there all alone
    But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned

    They’ll stone you when you’re walking on the street
    They’ll stone you when you’re trying to keep your seat
    They’ll stone you when your walking on the floor
    They’ll stone you when your walking to the door
    But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned

    They’ll stone you when you’re at the breakfast table
    They’ll stone you when you are young and able
    They’ll stone you when you’re trying to make a buck
    They’ll stone you and then they’ll say good luck
    But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned

    Well they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
    They’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
    They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
    They’ll stone you when you’re playing you guitar
    Yes But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned

    Well They’ll stone you when you are all alone
    They’ll stone you when you are walking home
    They’ll stone you and then say they’re all brave
    They’ll stone you when you’re send down in your grave
    But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned

  • Iam Danceswithdachshunds

    Sorry, ain’t got empathy for anyone who wants you, me and a whole bunch of other people I don’t know – DEAD.

  • FanBoyFanatics

    Well, he does look somewhat like a young Bob Dylan, so it kinda makes sense now. I take it back.

  • Hannah Schuetz

    History is written by the winners.
    The good don’t get all they deserve.
    The evil don’t get all they deserve.

    How can someone deserve a poem? They can’t. They might get one anyway though.
    You can’t redistribute poetry to cover all the good people in the world.

    There isn’t a correct time for feelings is there?
    Maybe Ms. Palmer sits back in her chair with her swelled-ego head and cackles as the debate explodes into more more more publicity.
    Or maybe she’s genuine about every single word she says.

    Or maybe…just maybe…people aren’t black and white, they grey and spots and it isn’t clear.

    Maybe Ms. Palmer isn’t a hero. Just a person.
    And we can be insulted or comforted, but either way we are us and she is her, and we’re all here together, and if you really had a problem with that idea you don’t have to stay.

    • Sar-aaaghh H

      ‘Maybe Ms. Palmer sits back in her chair with her swelled-ego head and
      cackles as the debate explodes into more more more publicity.’ don’t forget the cat she’s stroking like a classic james bond villain!
      Seriously though, this post sums it up really well.

  • PinkMan

    Radio DJ:
    “This is WZAZ in Chicago, where disco lives forever…”

  • cynthiamachine

    I refrained from commenting. I wanted to say so much but I kept waiting for someone who might say it better. I checked in this morning to see if someone had. I hid in the bathroom and cried. I don’t want to do that anymore. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I have more about the finger stuff and I’ll get to it , but for now ..

  • Coach K

    Just like the poem, this “defense” of it was solipsistic in that Amanda and her minions claim to be so much better/complex/complicated than the average American who can only think of “hate”.
    On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, the average American (who is simple and not a “deep” thinker) is right on this one.
    No one needs to be empathetic towards a child killer and a terrorist to boot. I don’t want to understand him, just like I don’t want to understand Hitler.
    Might not be complex, but moral right is right and moral wrong is wrong. I for one, will not be trying to “understand” Dzohkar.
    His uncle got it right. The “kid” is loser.

    • Hannah Schuetz

      So maybe this guy falls neatly into your categories of right and wrong. His actions are certainly right, but I question should we paint him black with no relflection on ourselves? What do we do that could help someone choose not to commit violence? What do we do that drives them to it? People don’t exist in a vacume.

      • Coach K

        Did you really mean to say “His actions are certainly right……” OR well, what exactly did you mean to say?

        What do we do that drives them to it? Relative to that question, which you asked, well that is victim blaming pure and simple. Like asking a woman who was raped what she did to deserve it.

        • Hannah Schuetz

          Oh, I meant to say wrong!

          I’m not saying we blame the victims. I’m saying that there are things to reflect on. Our country has seen tragedy after tragedy lately…and we’ve still got it sooooo much better than other countries. But our country still has violence embedded in our country. An interesting editorial on violence/nonviolence that a friend sent me is here: The author’s idea is still fresh in my head, and that’s what I’m trying to get at.

          • Coach K

            Know what? That was a good opinion piece. I wish we had gun control is this nation. The gun nuts have taken over.
            Know what else? I actually enjoy John Lennon’s song “Imagine”
            Know what else? It is all pie in the sky thinking and will never happen, so we best get real about things and take steps to protect ourselves because they are coming.

          • Jessica

            I didn’t originally intend to reply to this, but I am leaving one last comment on this particular blog post and this is the one I think needs it.

            Every move for equality and peace you can imagine began as a dream that seemed to good to be true. The slave who dreamed of freedom, the young girl deprived of an education who dreamed of being a doctor, the couple who dreamed of marriage thought they didn’t match in skin color or did match in gender. All this seemed impossible but it comes by a mix of struggle and hope. Those who stand still get what they expect – no change.

            Living in the conservative south, I have been called every name you can imagine for not only being a mixed heritage lesbian but for just being hopeful. Still, I stand by what I believe: It takes a 100 time mores bravery to stand for change than it does to sit and accept the present.

          • Hannah Schuetz

            I have some of the same thoughts about the donation tag. that’s a whole ‘nother debate though.

            Who is “they” and where are they coming from? Russians? Muslims? blacks, jews, gays, who? We can always find a them. But you know, when mistaken US raids bomb civilian towns abroad, you can bet those victims feel just as much horror as those in Boston are feeling.

            The sandy hook shooter committed an act of terror I would say, but because he died and was a White American we had to accept him as our own. We labeled him psychopath, instead of terrorist. Putting the blame on the mind rather than some sort of evil scheme.

            Here’s another opinion piece on that subject:

            We can’t control anyone but ourselves. I would rather work for peace than fear.
            I would rather work desparately to be peaceful in all of my actions and fail than to side with the “War on Terror” and similar sentiments. I cannot justify it when it has taken so many lives on both sides.

        • Iam Danceswithdachshunds


    • Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Where does better or worse come into anything? Different people process things differently.
      Maybe one of the differences is — some people believe that when two people process things differently, one way must be better than the other, and one way must be wrong. Other people don’t believe that.
      So, the ones who don’t believe that are perceived as believing themselves to be superior to the ones who do, and casting judgment on them, when really all they’re doing is being unashamedly different.

  • Ϻѻɍɍȋʛǻɳ Ɍª٧ҽɳѡѻʆƒ

    I like the poem. It’s written from Amanda’s perspective, taking stock of where she was, in the wake of a cruel massacre. It’s about her own life struggles, in the midst of her own hometown tragedies. It’s about the numbness and fear and unease everyone feels, in the aftermath of such violence, and the simultaneous feelings of strong emotion and emotional detachment, as the brain struggles to know how to process the experiences; the memories; the traumas.

  • Andrew Logan

    Hi, Amanda. I’m a fan already and so prehaps pre-disposed to, but I liked the poem. I thought it was good. I thought it was worthwhile. I didn’t know how much of it was known / true as I have a busy job and I don’t have the time to get into that level of detail about something that is so remote from me, but it *felt* true and that makes it good art. So, congratulations. Good work.
    And congratulations on your response. It is pretty strong and mature. Oddly the response does not feel entirely true to me. I wonder if you are more bothered and scared than you admit – but that is probably me projecting because I would be more bothered and scared than you seem.
    Look forward to seeing you when you get back to the UK for more shows.
    Love and Peace

  • kmwilliams

    “All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.” – Erica Jong

    We are increasingly a first-draft culture. 24hr news, comments sections under articles, etc, demands it. Respond now, respond fast or miss the moment. But don’t you dare get it wrong. Reading through all the rage-filled responses to the poem (and to a lesser extent) this blog, its no wonder so many people never write a line. The judgement is intense, dizzying. But, I hope, not loud enough to silence.

  • amanda is a troll


    • Iheartpoetry

      seems like there’s this one hateful person in particular on this blog who keep changes their name to say disgusting things. doug (or sleep or whatever your name is) do you really think anyone will care about your scrawls of hatred when we can listen to Amanda’s amazing music? music that can uplift our souls and make us dance for joy? you are nothing to me.

      • D

        That’s why he’s so angry. All of these sad little people that go around antagonizing strangers. They’re mad because they don’t matter, so they’re screaming at the world in the way they think will get the biggest reaction. And they’re scared to go out into the world and make and do things that will make them actually matter to the world, so they tear down the people that do.
        It’s all very sad. Normal, happy people don’t exhibit this behaviour.

        • Doug “Beat Yo Azz” Wexler

          actually i cant give credit for the hilarious hag joke to myself. seems there is more than one bead-stomached troll in thizz bitch! angry? at what? a bunch of half-retarded kids flapping their hands against a keyboard? i dont even know what ur talking about. im happy as a clam. if i WAS screaming for the biggest reaction tho, i would have to thank you D, and i<3poetry (you shud write it like that pal), cause u gave it up !

          • wilder125

            Kid eh? I’m 2 years older than she is. How exactly did Neil find a woman born in 1976, you’ll probably never know since you weren’t two rows away from a stage where he told the story.

      • Doug baby… doug

        btw amandas music sounds like that fat chick on its always sunny when she does the whole cabaret thing… it is made for people with social awkwardness cause their own awkwardness is alleviated by the holy-fuck mess of a car wreck going on before their very own pimple-bumped eyes!

  • kevin

    your beautiful amanda

  • ralph

    Why do you always ask for money?

  • Juan

    Did the bomb blast burn off your eyebrows?

  • juan

    All you ever ask for is money

  • PolitelyOffend

    I actually heard about this whole thing (the poem) at work. I do think people are blowing it way out of proportion, but I also think it was ill timed and impulsive. You know I love and respect you both as an artist and even moreso as a person, but I think you are misjudging some of the reactions. A lot of people I have come across are very empathetic to the younger brother, but also angry and disgusted by him. I personally have lost someone I love when they were murdered by a man who was also nineteen almost three years ago. It was a very public trial and very emotional. When people tried to be empathetic to me or my family, it came off completely wrong to us. the intentions may be good, but when you are grieving or in shock, the last thing you ever want to hear is someone trying to comment on it in any way, let alone in a way that tries to go into the psyche of the person who caused you so much pain. why? because it hurts too much to think of it. I remember people talking about my loved one’s murderer as if trying to pry into his emotional state to try to process things. Meanwhile, I still can’t watch 48 hours mystery without feeling sick and angry about people with this morbid curiousity. It is their right to be curious, but it doesn’t mean it is right to disregard the emotions of the directly affected (Direct victims) to voice it. Thinking through things and posing questions is important, but there is a time and a place. This was neither. Just think before you post. It is .fine to deal through art, but consider if sharing it is more about helping others or .more about you. Be mindful. I will reiterate that I respect you and admire you. You are very talented and a loving, kind person who has helped me through things without even realizing. Just meditate on what you post before throwing it out there.

    • Stéphanie Paes

      “when you are grieving or in shock, the last thing you ever want to hear is someone trying to comment on it in any way, let alone in a way that tries to go into the psyche of the person who caused you so much pain”.

      You thought just what I thought in the middle of it all. These are hard times, for everyone directly or indirectly involved in what happened. We get confused, lost… and to hear someone trying to fit in the shoes of who caused it all really hurts…. But, on the other hand, express yourself to process the whole situations is importante to deal with it all (which is what I thought Amanda did and I think everyone it doing). But, yes, maybe she’s failed on deciding to turn it public, or turning it public now. Maybe someday she regrets what she’s said, maybe not, but what’s done is done. And part of people’s behaviour against it and her is also a way of dealing with everything. They are hurt, they already were before the poem. They’re just reacting to everything that’s going on. The’re no much to do about it now. Only to wait the dust settles. And hope for the best.

  • Alexander McClelland

    I think a more concise description of the consequences of the loss of empathy would be this: When you lose the ability to feel empathy for another person, you lose the ability to care whether or not that person comes to harm through your actions.

    Think for a minute about the kind of person that makes you.

  • Doug Wexler

    u guys im serious i cant get rid of the feeling that theres a cactus up my asshole just causa the dumb shit spilling out of amanda’s lady-gaga-looking mouth

  • TrollingForDollars
  • mazzymouse

    there is a typo in your boston button text

  • Doug Wexler

    i might’ve said some weird/mean things on here but all you palmer fans should EMPHASIZE with me and realize that somebody must have hurt me to make me say all this weird shit. cant you just picture the dark world-shitting occurances that have plagued my past to make me so randomly rude? maybe you will love me to like you love that little russian fuck

    • Marionette26

      He’s not russian.

      • Doug Wexler

        dont change the subject wench

        • Marionette26

          I don’t really give a flying fuck about your post, aside from that… so… that is the subject. To me.

          • Doug Wexler

            imagine the world-shitting hurt of my past that made me call you a blindingly gay whore

          • Doug Fucking Wexler

            it’s also worth keeping in mind that my use of english language is remarkably more technicolor and liquid-like then hers, and shes the one trumpeting herself to be a poet louder than louis fuckin armstrong

          • D

            You… don’t matter.

          • Richard

            I’ll make it simple for you, Doug. Your life has no meaning. Seriously. Rethink your life. You probably don’t be half the charity work Amanda or most of us do (or any at all), you don’t do anything to support making the world better than it was when your poor sad mother had the bad luck of giving birth to you, your “friends” most likely would leave you if you were dying and couldn’t wipe your own ass. You. don’t. matter. Now please find something to offer us as a species as a whole or get off the planet. You’re draining resources. Bye now because your words are not worth seeing.

          • Doug “The Boss” Wexler

            you are an excellent therapist and i feel i have finally overcome my innermost turmoil of demons. nobody ever figgured me out so fast, its as if u have microscoped straight into the canister of my soul-fumes. i am worthless and dont even matter – i dont even do charity! what the fudge! i cant wipe my own ass and nobody gives a shit. lemme keep this to one paragraph tho so i only waste half as much time on u as u waste on me. now back to my cocaine and naked chix…

          • Richard

            You know, on second thought, I really am sorry I told you that. It hurts to have your reality shoved in your face and know you have a lifetime of behaving that way to overcome if you ever wish to be needed. I am sorry. Nobody should have to hold that pain. But I do, honestly hope you get better. You all ready live in your head, which must hurt a lot. Do try to get better, though. For yourself.

          • Marionette26

            Holy mother of fuck, imagine how little I care. Can you? Can you picture it in your head? Picture me squishing my fingers together, so there’s not a space big enough for even a granule of sugar. That is how little I care. Perhaps a bit less.

          • Doug “Shakespeare” Wexler

            i can picture you squishing your fingers together with a grape in between them and me under you with my jaw wider than a football arena waiting to drink what comes out, and say THANK YOU while you get all steamfaced and mad because you thought something about that would hurt my ironclad feelings

          • Marionette26

            I’m not trying to hurt your feelings… you’re a troll. It’s very difficult to hurt a troll’s feelings. They think this is a game.. which it kind of is. I just want you to understand that I don’t give a fuck. I don’t give anything resembling a fuck. You can say what you want, really (you’re nowhere near as bad as some of the trolls that’ve been on here). Just get your facts right before you start spouting off.

          • Doug “Heartfelt” Wexler

            i dont think you give a flying squirrel shit, i think you have an impentrable fortress of your emotions like sarumons tower and i appreciate that you hold me on a higher rung of the troll ladder, in fact i quite like you now and regret calling you any dirty names. from now on you’re marion of the moon to me

          • dougisadick


          • Doug Wexler

            Doug Wexler is a dumbass

  • Doug Wexler

    if this bitch took 5 minutes to read even ONE poem by Lorca maybe she wouldnt have written something that reads with about as much value as my little brother Carlos’ shitfilled diapies

  • Aaron Conwell

    Love you Amanda!

  • A Concerned Young Lady

    The poem was well written and great, super duper real, but I just wondered how come it didn’t mention anything about the horrific accident of your eyebrows, surely that must have also been on your mind?

  • Roger

    I am indifferent to the poem but I find it incredibly annoying that you keep writing and doing inflammatory shit just for more twitter followers, for the attention. Can you for once step back and take yourself out of a situation?

  • Scott

    diamonds to swine, right. not everyone though. so many americans can only read at an 8th grade level… so many can’t understand poetry… esp in a flash as a post on a blog.
    here’s one more direct:
    how I hate the
    heroes of another idea
    i just assume leave them at the gate
    because I don’t know their intent
    to live the american dream
    or to make us americans scream
    but our civility requires courage and
    tolerance and both seem too
    difficult to sustain.

  • K Fern

    Amanda, I’m sorry that people are being so judgmental just because your poem bothers them. I am a singer/songwriter too and I also deal with tough situations through composition. Sometimes the things artists write are controversial, raw and stabbing but so is life. You are very brave to share your poem with such a large audience. I often find that my heart heals when I reach the point where I can sympathize with those that hurt me, rather than hate them and that is all you did. Thank you for challenging others to do the same.

  • Mary Layton

    I made a note on Facebook and quoted portions (with attribution) of this post ( The thing about dealing with fear really resonated – not just for this particular issue, but in the grander scheme of things…why we are so politically divided as a nation for one thing. I opened it up to the public…I may regret that – on the other hand, I don’t want to be one of the ‘hiders’. I hope I’m strong enough to weather any backlash, but I hope even more that people will read it with an open mind and understand the honesty of the message. Thank you for, once again, giving us all something to think on. x

  • Guest

    Sponsor a Poet Page | Add to Notebook | E-mail to Friend | Print
    Ars Poetica

    by Archibald MacLeish

    A poem should be palpable and mute
    As a globed fruit,

    As old medallions to the thumb,

    Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
    Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

    A poem should be wordless
    As the flight of birds.


    A poem should be motionless in time
    As the moon climbs,

    Leaving, as the moon releases
    Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

    Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
    Memory by memory the mind—

    A poem should be motionless in time
    As the moon climbs.


    A poem should be equal to:
    Not true.

    For all the history of grief
    An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

    For love
    The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

    A poem should not mean
    But be.

  • Iris Chamberlain

    Thank you for saying what so few people recognize and what fewer would dare to say. I believe that everyone who has hurt others has reasons. We are what the world makes of us. If we are ever going to have an impact on crime and terrorism, we have to understand that it doesn’t just come out of nowhere – a senseless evil that can be simplified and demonized. It is created, and it will continue to be created until we can figure out where it comes from and heal that part of humanity. You can’t combat darkness with more darkness. My thoughts are with everyone who suffered in this tragedy – everyone.

  • The Bard of The West


  • Demerrara

    Whenever people say of Amanda (or anyone who is making controversial art), “She’s just doing it to shock,” or “She’s just doing it for attention,” or “She’s just doing it for fame and fortune,” I want to ask:

    Why is it so utterly implausible and incomprehensible to you that some people just aren’t like you? Some people are interested in things that you find shocking. Some people look at a tragedy and see something different than you see. And some people like to discuss and explore those reactions.

    Whatever you may think about the poem itself, you have no idea how sincere or insincere Amanda (or anyone) is in making it unless you can see into their heads. But upon seeing something that is alien and different to how you would speak or react, you must convince yourself that no, nobody actually thinks like that, they’re just doing it for some ulterior motive.

    As an ambassador from the world outside your door, I’d just like to inform you: yes, some people really just don’t think like you. Some people are honestly and sincerely fascinated by things you’d rather not think about, and talk about them in terms you wouldn’t use. Really. When we talk about it, or blog about it, or write poems about it, we’re doing it because we are interested in it, and we really do think the things we are making are worthwhile. You don’t have to agree. Luckily, in communities like Amanda’s and others, we find groups of people who DO think like us, and DO agree that what we make is worthwhile. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. But don’t come in from the outside and tell us that what we do is insincere just because it wasn’t made with you in mind.

    If you are shocked by what we make, consider the idea that you’re just not the intended audience. Which is fine, no art is right for everyone. That doesn’t make us cynical liars, it makes you just not our audience. The world doesn’t, by default, think exactly like you.

    • vixEo

      This is perfect.

  • Claire

    Is terrorism not just an extreme form of bullying? Didn’t we all have a wonderful discussion about empathising with and understanding bullies on this site not long ago (while of course being supportive of the bullied)? Until we can openly talk about how we feel about what is happening without fear of being attacked we wont resolve anything. Open, honest dialogue is essential. So is empathy. Unless you incite violence or hatred (which is mostly driven by fear) then freedom of expression is vital. Just because a persondoesn’t agree with you doesn’t make their voice less important or valuable. Sweep things under the rug and eventually the pile will be so big you either trip on it, or can’t get past it.

  • Marshall

    Amanda, I find your constant mention of empathy to be very, very hypocritical.

    Where is your empathy for those who are raising legitimate criticisms of this poem you wrote? It is evident here that you think that anyone who finds your poem to be problematic and offensive just needs to “read it again”.

    Where was your empathy when survivors of sexual assault tried to explain to you why your “I Kissed a Girl” performance a few years back was so deeply hurtful and triggering?

    Where was your empathy when people of color were outraged that you had the audacity to use racial slurs in a song (Guitar Hero), when such slurs NEVER belong to you to say.

    Where was your empathy when you chose to have a laugh about feminists with disabilities on television?

    Where was your empathy when working musicians expressed their issue with you asking people to play in your backing band for free, as if a beer and a high-five pays the rent (especially after you raised PLENTY of money on kickstarter to afford backing musicians, don’t lie)?

    You are one of the last people who should ever be talking about empathy.

    • Marshall

      actually everything i just said above is retarded and gay

  • Kelly Adlington

    “When you cannot make art about the chaos, that’s when the chaos takes over.” That’s a good one, Amanda. I’m going to remember that. Thanks for sharing your “empathy” thoughts. It’s how I feel too…we should feel empathy for everyone. Sometimes it’s hard for me not to. And sometimes, it’s hard to admit that we do. I had a very sad and very frustrating encounter with a teacher last year at school. He was very mean and hurtful to me for, what I feel, were unjust reasons. We were talking about him in Spanish one day and someone mentioned how when he does lunch duty (and supervises the cafeteria, because this is high school), he always stands by himself, and the other teachers stand and talk with each other. Someone said, “that’s sad,” and me, caught up in my anger against him from last year, said, “Oh well. He deserves it.” A couple people laughed, because it was sort of a joke. But my friend said, “I don’t think he does. No one deserves to be alone.” Honestly, my first thought when he said that was, “Shit. God damn it, he’s right.” No matter how much of a douche the guy is, he’s married, he has kids, he has a demanding job and assholes that he needs to deal with. And he’s likely doing the best he can. So he doesn’t deserve to be alone. We all have demons or whatever that we deal with on a daily basis. And it’s unfortunate for all of us. I can’t imagine the kind of demons that haunt you into bombing the Boston Marathon.

  • corvelay

    No one cares about your poem. They commented here to tell that you’re a dumb cunt, because you are.

    • wilder125

      Really? When did I do that?

      • corvelay

        You’re one of Palmer’s regular fanboys/girls? No one cares about you either.

        • wilder125

          I’m just vicariously a fan by being a fan of Neil. That and her official music video that neil shared where she was naked in a tub. Singing wasn’t bad either.

          Hmm… when to listen to her music. I don’t know when yet. Haven’t found the right mood to be in to buy a song or two.

          I guess the conclusion is I’m one of the irregular random posters who apparently annoys the hell out of people

          Which is fun, and I wouldn’t have it any other way

  • Tom Kern

    Amanda wrote a poem.
    Agree with it or not the poem was heartfelt.
    The only thing the title did was draw attention to the poem.
    Most art starts with the Self.
    It’s all we know for starters.
    Hey look over there, we’re all talking about poetry.

  • vixEo

    Who’s to say how you “should” feel or how you “should” act after a national tragedy takes place in your backyard? What is the appropriate way to emote over losing someone, almost losing someone, or losing a little bit of yourself because of this horrendous violation that has enacted upon Boston? Cut AFP some slack. Anyone who feels the need to write or talk about their emotions in order to come to terms with them should not be censored – regardless of whether or not the content *could* be interpreted as offensive. At the end of the day, let’s all appreciate that we have the right to voice our thoughts, be it through a poem or over one. Let’s not seek to oppress the rights that fly in the face of terrorism. Please be kind, and remember that “personal morals” are subjective. One person may find it insensitive to publish a poem like this one in the aftermath of this tragedy while, clearly, others find it inspiring. Like her or not, AFP has helped a LOT of people find their voice, and I am sure there is more than one shaken Bostonian who read the poem and relate to the feeling of not knowing what to do next.

    • corvelay

      What people should do is check their egos and realize that this sort of tragedy isn’t about them, and nor should they make it about them by writing terrible poetry designed to attract controversy.

  • harkin

    Awesome poem – looking forward to your next work finding humanity in Tea Partiers and pro-life types.

  • bill lignos

    Amanda is using this site as her front for selling drugs.i hope the fbi, dea checks her out cuz she is big time pusher trying to covert up with poetry. crazy fuckin ice head

  • bill lignos

    there once was a girl named Amanda, eyebrows looked like the ass of a panda, a dumb poem she chose, with that big fuckin nose, and silly ass hair in every pose. TITLED- “A DUMB FUCKIN BROAD”

    • DougWexleristhatyou

      Your life must be really empty.

      • wilder125

        Shhh.. he needed the comments.

  • Stacey Rittel

    Amanda, I have loved your art and your perspective for a long time. I was as happy when my absolute favorite musician married my absolute idol author as perhaps the two of you were. I’m so glad I have the opportunity to continue to support you, and to give my children the chance to listen to your music and understand that there are people in the world who would understand the life we have chosen, and why we treat people the way that we do. To live without empathy indicates that in that mind, not all people are created equal, lesser for choices made, physical characteristics, values, etc. You are always and forever, my bestest, most amazing rockstar crush.

  • Johnny Alpha

    The REAL test of Amanda’s sincerity about having empathy “for anyone… anyone” is laid bare by the following question:

    “The unanswered question here is obvious. Would Palmer have written
    the very same poem had the bombing suspects been white Tea Party
    members, as a few folks in the media suggested early in the
    investigation? Would her empathy toward those who disagree with her
    point of view remain steadfast, or would it whither away”?

    I think we ALL know all of the touchy-feely sentiment about the bomber, and self-congratulatory moralistic posing, would disappear in a hot minute had the bomber been a watcher of the Fox News Channel. Would we all be baying about how “we are all human, who are we to judge?” I think not.

    • D

      That’s stupid. She would write a poem about the tea partier if the tea partier did or said something that inspired or fascinated her to write a poem. Not writing a poem about somebody doesn’t mean you don’t empathize with them. The idea that she wrote this poem because she loved some murderer is absurd. He did something vile and sad enough to make her wonder about humanity. So she wrote a poem about it.

      Have you ever written a poem about Martin Luther King? Then you must be a RACIST.

      What “we all know” is that you are talking out of your ass based on nothing.

      • Johnny Alpha

        She didn’t just write a poem, she wrote a poem sympathetic to the child murderer before that child was even cold in the ground. And WE ALL KNOW, had the child murderer been a white guy who voted for Tea Party candidate, she would not have written a poem of sympathy. She would have written a poem of condemnation, and rightly so. So this BS about her being compassionate towards EVERYONE, is just that, a big steaming pile of BS.

        • D

          Hey, you got any evidence for that groundless claim? NO?? Why, I’m deeply shocked!

  • Lisa Ann Cochrane

    Working in the health care industry, I have had the opportunity to learn much about the importance of sympathy and empathy towards all people. It is very distressing to me to see people that have not had the same opportunities to influence their ability to feel these things towards others. Those boys committed a terrorist act, yes, but dehumanizing them doesn’t change anything. If anything, it shows a lack of will to understand their reasoning. And if we don’t learn from the past, how can we possibly prevent such things happening in the future? That’s why we learn about such things as Hitler and the cause of the World Wars in History class. We need to open ourselves to truth and be willing to understand the ‘why’ of things.

    Thank you for posting this blog entry. I must admit when I first read the poem you wrote, I was a bit confused as to the format–some parts seemed to refer to Dzhokhar, as the title indicated, but then others didn’t quite seem to fit. Re-reading it after reading this blog, I feel I understand it better. Thank you for clarifying.

  • Juliathedoglover64

    “It’s not those who claim to have all the answers, it’s those who admit they still have questions”.

  • Frieda

    I think the reason this controversy has really been sticking with me is that so much of the hatred thrown at Amanda is so jingoistic. When Sandy Hook happened, yes, people were outraged, but they were also talking about mental health policies and the disillusioned youth of today. People hated Lanza, but they also asked, why did he do this? How can we stop this happening again? Adam Lanza was a white American. So we asked questions and we talked of mental health initiatives. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a muslim immigrant. That, it seems, is all we need to know.

    What upsets me is this blind, unquestioning rage is aimed at anyone who expresses any reaction to the tragedy besides more blind, unquestioning rage. And that’s not because people died; it’s because some of US died, because of one of THEM.

    What I see in this poem is utter sadness and confusion because some of US died, because of one of US.

    And he is one of us, at the end of the day. You don’t have to support what he did or sympathize with him to see that — Amanda didn’t. But just that simple recognition of his humanity alone was enough to cause this insane reaction. That’s really sad, and really scary.

  • Amelia Harris

    So the poem is about you trying to deal with your emotions this past week. So what? I fail to see what is so controversial about this.

    I am from the other side of the world, removed and safe. The bombings are just another tragedy, to me, part of a list of other tragedies that happened around the world this week.

    Just another headline. Something for me pause for a moment of sadness and shock over my morning paper, and then move on. Perhaps I am part of the problem, in being able to so easily forget something that does not affect me personally. Whatever, but your poem did mean something to me. I saw in your poem a woman caught up in the shock and disbelief of the horror of it all. A woman deeply, deeply affected and just trying to make sense of it all.

    The title, I thought apt. Dzhokhar was the one responsible – he is the reason for the sense of disconnection, the reason the poem exists in the first place. Why are you not allowed to acknowledge this? Why must others dictate to you how you must grieve and cope?

  • Bridget McGraw-Bordeaux

    think..I don’t know, I’ve been a fan of your music for ages, and because of that I
    also think of you as someone who is incredibly media savvy, so the idea
    that you didn’t know that naming a poem after this kid -wouldn’t- cause
    controversy, wouldn’t bring you a ton of attention, just reads
    disingenuous to me. though it’s possible after the past week i’m just
    super cynical. this (to me) just reads as the same sort of non apology as the stuff about disabled feminists, not paying musicians, or raging about getting a bad review for a show and mocking the author of said review and posting videos of his band on your blog as an example of “bad” music.

    Like, I get that art is art and you live and breathe art but i also feel like you are way smarter than this. and i really dislike feeling so cynical, i really really really do. but it just seems like so much of what you do is to monetize your brand, it just seems hard to believe this isn’t part of that.

  • JMB

    The late Roger Ebert once said that if you have to ask what something symbolized, it didn’t. The same logic applies here: if you have to explain what your poem meant because you think others misinterpreted it, that’s the poet’s fault, not the audience’s.

    • myclawismypenis


    • sarjé

      Sometimes, lots of times, there are addendums, there are edits, there are explanations–there always have been, but especially in these days, when everything, EVERYTHING, is current, in-the-moment, when the news is constantly edited or revised for the latest hot tidbit (and not because it’s grammatically incorrect or because it’s factually impossible).

      Art has often had such addendums, edits, explanations. Go to a gallery, any gallery, and tell me there are no explanations, no placards explaining how it was done, or why, or when. Tell me that you haven’t read a book with a foreword. Tell me you haven’t read one with an epilogue. With a page of gratitude.

      A poet lives in a space of symbolism–that lush, hidden place in words–but sometimes that symbolism is too covert, too singular, too uniquely experienced. And poets edit. And they explain. And they add.

      And if we’re wise: we thank them, or we critique, but we don’t bash, and we don’t condescend. A later insight does not indicate short-sightedness. It indicates awareness brought about by a new moment. Poems are only a moment in time, too.

    • wilder125

      A poem that’s truly understood within 10 seconds of reading it is a boring piece of crap.

      Which I must admit is why I didn’t re-read it. Not because of the subject matter, but because I figured out after her tweet about her and neil trying to figure out how to get to New York that the whole poem was about that attempt to go there. Granted the lines about finding New York tied in perfectly with that tweet

  • Yogi Barrister

    Blame Jane Fonda for Vietnam
    Blame the president, blame your mom
    Soothe your burns with hot napalm
    Blame AFP, ‘cos she’s the bomb

    • wilder125

      Nah, we just blame Fonda for fondling the enemy while showing fondness

  • Lendra Len

    I’m not sure how to say this because I’m not American and English is not my first language, but I deeply
    feel the phrase
    “when you cannot make art about the chaos, that’s when the chaos takes over”.

    I cannot say I’m a forgiving person, in fact I am more indifferent towards the ones that cause pain. I don’t want them dead, I don’t want them to suffer, I just care about the people they hurt without asking to myself why someone can do something like this and what horrible things they experienced in their lives to be so cruel.
    I simply don’t care. And I’d sure like a world where these horrors were avoided instead of punished. Utopia.

    The fact is that in your poem I haven’t read anything that could be accused of “taking sides”. And I’m not saying that taking sides is wrong, it’s what I always do, I always take sides because that’s how I want to live my life, having always an opinion about everything.

    But I don’t think in this case you took sides. Your poem can have many titles and some of the things you wrote are the things that I also feel.

    And I think that’s what art is all about, sharing feelings. Even when they are about chaos.

    I don’t know you, and I know very little about your art, so I’m just talking about this particular situation.

  • myclawismypenis

    You took in alot or money with the help of Neil Gaimen for your kickstarter album project. I hope that you and Neil can at least give something back..,,and not just a candle that neil lighted, which I havent really heard much from him on the subject in the first place.

    • cultsaurus

      this IS interesting! Amanda is requesting donations for the bombing victims and their families, but she’s made no mention of giving herself (& why do I suspect we’d hear about it, if she did).

  • myclawismypenis

    Criticizing other peoples’ work in response to yours…

  • myclawismypenis

    Shit on a sidewalk with a note by the owner explaining that its not still shit.

  • sarjé

    I empathize and sympathize and -ise also. And I see me in you and you in me, Amanda.

    I didn’t link to this at the time, but will now:
    I was interested in how much more heated and vitriolic the conversation became after the beginning, which is when I created this found poem from the comments that had been left:

  • flynn99

    I never really get the good art / bad art thing. I’ve never studied art or poetry. To me, if someone does something creative and it evokes emotion in just one person (even the artist him/herself) then it is art and I (try to) make no value judgement on it.

    Some comments have derided the poem as the poem of a 14 year old. That says something about how much they value the poem of a 14 year old.

    Personally, Amanda’s poem evoked emotions in me, made me think about all the people involved in this tragedy, made me realise how she herself was struggling to express her thoughts/emotions, made me glad that she was trying to. And I didn’t even understand all the references (two percent? I was surprised to discover this referred to milk), but that didn’t matter… overall, it opened up a space where more questions could be asked and more ideas could form around this tragedy than the narrow show the corporate media presents.

    In some ways, I think it’s a shame Amanda had to explain how the poem came about, but given the reaction I think it’s probably a good thing she did.

  • Carly D. Weckstein

    Thank you for taking the time to say these important things.

  • Fanintheattic

    Oh for fuck sake. This debate rumbles on with at the impetus of a wet Sunday afternoon. If Amanda is genuine in saying this poem was blasted off in 9 mins with no thought as to its impact then fair enough we all carelessly say or do things that have a negative impact on those around us from time to time. But the cynic in me says no,this poem was posted with intent, after it was written she could have paused, thought, decided that maybe this may be interpreted in the wrong way and posted something less ,, oh I don’t know,, sensationalist I suppose. But that’s not her style. In fairness I’m not asking her to conform or to be something she isn’t. All I’m saying is that artists are responsible for their art

  • Fanintheattic

    Don’t cry I can say whatever I want it’s art

  • Fanintheattic

    Shite computer keeps freezing

  • An Open Mind

    I feel there are a lot of folks here who will defend Amanda based on how much they’ve come to respect her in the past. I am seeing a lot of folks explain to those who WERE offended that they haven’t taken the proper time to get to know her.

    Well this is a case of discussing a person’s character instead of the specific actions in question. Is Amanda a great person? Probably. She does a lot of interesting things and seems to have integrity about them. She also happens to be married to one of my favorite writers of all time :)

    But did she go too far with the poem she wrote? Absolutely. I don’t think she was very respectful with the subject matter. Maybe that could have been water under the bridge, but then she put up this post which is basically dismissing the notion that some of us actually DID have our feelings hurt by this. Or took offense, or whatever.

    it may be time for Amanda to take one step back and analyze what happened here. It must be tough for someone as public as her to admit when she’s made a mistake, but I think there are many many people at this point who would appreciate it if she did. Because at the moment it rings like a teenage punk rocker who thinks “Everybody else is wrong, not me.”

    • Fanintheattic

      Well put

    • flynn99

      I don’t think she did dismiss that people’s feelings had been hurt, she acknowledged that “many of the comments have been confused, many of them understanding, many of them angry.”

      I get that many people wish she hadn’t shared this poem, but they are free to walk away from here and not read Amanda’s blog in the future. Or they are free to stay here and say what they think about it. But to ask her to call it a mistake?

      This is what really matters, I think:

      “think about what it means for us, and what it means for our culture and our world if people are too afraid to speak up about how they feel, if people are too afraid to share their reflections, if people take one step backwards and think…”better not rock the boat”.”

      Don’t most of us do this, most of the time? I’m grateful that there are still a few people like Amanda in the world who are willing to rock the boat.

      • An Open Mind

        I’ve been seeing many similar comments like what you wrote above, applauding Amanda for “rocking the boat.” Is it really something to applaud? So she upset a lot of people in the wake of a tragedy – does that make her a bold counter-culture hero? Would I be one if I went to your family member’s funeral and redecorated the corpse’s face with clown makeup? But wouldn’t that simply be “rocking the boat” on conventional funeral procedures and mourning rituals?

        What it expressed to me was insensitivity and naivety, a youthful mind unconcerned with the weight of the words she’s using and the action she’s taking by publishing them to her (millions-wide?) audience.

        It’s just a matter of bad taste. Nobody here (with the exception of some sickos) thinks she should be punished or something for doing this, but I think we hope to communicate to her that she acted rather thoughtlessly, and doesn’t have to stand by her actions just because it would be too embarrassing to admit that not everything she does is right. This was a mistake – a decision she made in less than ten minutes, according to herself. I am increasingly offended to think she has chosen to stand by this hastily made decision rather than admit that, yes, some decisions we didn’t have time to think through before we made them, and we ended up choosing wrong.

        • Esmertina Bicklesnit

          I think it is something to applaud. Not because it was “shocking” or “edgy,” but because it was expressive.

          There’s no way to quantify how many people it hurt versus how many people it helped and it’s pointless to try, but you can’t discount the comments from people who are saying thank you for inspiring me to write my own feelings … thank you for showing me I am not the only one dealing with complicated, nuanced feelings in a world that only seems to respect black and white.
          But the feelings you’re expressing — that you’re increasingly offended that she refuses to apologize — are feelings I’ve seen others express in other cases. I, personally, don’t understand feeling that way … I think the only public figures I’ve ever felt that way about were world leaders, not indie rock stars. But I know how frustrating that feels, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

          • An Open Mind

            I appreciate heartfelt and intelligent responses like this, even if they aren’t in alignment with my own views.

          • K

            If I express myself by throwing poo at you, is that to be applauded, too? After all, it’s me expressing myself, isn’t that great?

        • flynn99

          The boat I see being rocked here is that of exploring the need to stay open at a time when it’s easy and natural to close down. It’s not a boat that gets rocked without causing waves, I admit, but the stakes are so high (a continuing cycle of violence) that like I said, I’m glad Amanda and others are prepared to do it.

          The hurt, fear and anger from 9/11 caused public support for the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Looking outside of corporate media reporting, those wars were (and continue to be) great crimes against humanity. Dzhokhar and his brother (as reported today) carried out the bombings in anger at these wars. And now there is hate and anger being directed at them, and at Muslims in general, and at Chechnya. How do you end the continuing hate and violence? This is such an incredibly important question, and I think Amanda’s poem was just trying to find a way to answer it.

    • K

      I’m curious how many of her defenders were actually affected in any way by the bombings, or if to them it’s just an interesting intellectual exercise and they have the luxury of thinking of the perpetrator while there are still actual victims in the hospital.

      All I know is I’ve gotten called a troll here for suggesting that someone maybe write stuff in a diary when it’s not yet appropriate to say it in public because people are hurt and grieving and saying it is like throwing acid on their wounds. Amanda’s assistant went after me on Twitter simply for making a crack about Amanda pushing to win an award from MTV. (Come on, can no one else see the irony/humor?) I heard that Sean attacked commenters on BuzzFeed for hating this poem. This isn’t a fandom any more, it’s a cult.

      • cultsaurus

        jesus christ —- really? her assistant took you out on Twitter? I see/hear this kind of stuff about AP and her legions, including Neil Gaiman, but jesus christ!

  • Fanintheattic

    Especially if your main aim is to promote brand Palmer at all cost. Art motivated by money. It’s crazy and not funny. I know this poem is really bad but I’m not in the least bit sad. It only took 9 seconds to write so it was bound to be shite. Send me some cash for lessons. Oh and if you and Neil are worried about the future? Financially? Don’t be,he’s a genius why not stay at home and tend house. …… Don’t hate it’s art.

  • Annie Leonard

    for some reason the poem seemed a lot deeper when i thought you had some sort of mystical knowledge of what was going through dzhokar’s head, not just spilling your own thoughts and worries onto the page… but it is great that people’s misunderstanding of it kicked them into action and discussion! you’re always a hero, Amanda~~

  • Finkdoobiest

    How do you solve a problem like Amanda?

    I used to be a hardcore fan. I went to every DD/AFP gig in my city. Owned every album. I still have an Evelyn Evelyn record signed by both Evelyns (#763). These days, however, not so much…It seems that Amanda is in her own little bubble, surrounded by sycophants, who validate this notion that Art is All. It is not…

    Amanda, these are raw emotions you’re dealing with. In chaotic times like these, people need security and stability, which is perhaps why they gravitate towards their baser, genetically entrenched instincts. No doubt it’s possible to lead them to a more ‘enlightened’ state of mind, but to do that effectively you need to lead them with a solid and articulate narrative…Attempting to lead them there through the ambiguity of art will only get you in trouble.

    It was too soon. Yes, Virginia…there is such a thing as too soon. To jump off the Oasis reference – I’m sure you can understand why a rape victim, still in a state of shock, wouldn’t appreciate an empathetic poem about her attacker. Or, to put a lighter spin on it…I’m sure you wouldn’t do yoga after a hefty meal (Although I’m sure there’s a market for bottled Amanda Farting Palmer gas).

    Personally I met the news with ambivalence. Being from Belfast (proper) I’m jaded towards bombing and could have easily, unwittingly made some insensitive remarks, but ultimately had the awareness to bite my tongue. However, as the poetic shit has hit the prosaic fan, I will say that I did want to remark on how peacefully sleepy recent events in America has made Belfast (fucking Belfast!) seem…Or I might have remarked how Boston was the capital of IRA fundraising in America (google: NorAid), as that narrative fed in to both the ancestral, cultural patriotism of Irish-Americans, and pure, balls-to-the-wall American patriotism in the opposition of British tyranny. Hmmm…I wonder how many bombing victims the good people of Boston have directly or indirectly funded? Actually…lets not fucking go there.

    The other thing I wanted to mention was that the donation widget could have been hidden with a simple CSS rule. It could have been hidden on the blog pages where it was competing with the One fund. Its one line of code, in one file. One minute’s work.

    P.S. Here’s an idea….You should have another one of your online auctions, with the proceeds going to The One Fund. I’ll happily donate my signed Evelyn Evelyn record to the collection ;)

    • Finkdoobiest

      P.P.S This clip is hilariously (in)appropriate –

      • sarjé

        Dave Foley is always a win.

  • David Parnell

    i am definitely going to resist the urge to publish a book entitled “a slim volume of anti-amanda-palmer verse written during national poetry month”.


    can you at least post some of your favorites?

  • Writing Amy’s Story

    Thank you, Amanda, for being the courageous artist that you are. Your poem touched me. Your blog today is the proverbial icing on the cake. I am just beginning to find my poetic voice and have struggled with the thought of sharing pieces that are deeply personal and emotionally raw. Your poem and this blog post have inspired me to be true to my heart. Writing must provoke, must inspire, must open conversation.

    And yes… we are all connected.

  • Paula Mack

    I hope any of us who have wasted our time trying to help FAP see our side will redirect our energies to people worthy of our attention, such as

  • Amanda

    See, here’s the thing about art. When you start complaining that it’s been “misinterpreted,” you’re assuming that there is only one correct interpretation, which of course is not true. I am quite sure that you know that, which is why I’m dismayed by your defense. Sounds a lot like somebody saying something truly shitty and then insisting that the other person “took it the wrong way.”

  • Tim

    I have no issue with the poem. Other than it’s not particularly good. And the timing was spectacularly bad. I guess my problem is with Amanda. Who seems like just another self-indulgent, intellectually vapid, trying-way-too-hard-to-be-edgy rich kid from the Boston ‘burbs. I mean, look at the freaking button, “Support My Art.” Really? Why? Who says it’s art? Is Amanda gonna support my “art”?
    Maybe if Daddy had paid more attention, none of this would be necessary?

    • Fanintheattic

      Well said

  • Simeon Peebler

    I wrote a song last week and posted it online (it’s called “Brave in Boston”) on SoundCloud. Somebody commented to me online something to the effect of “good job capitalizing on this event.” I understand that point of view, but that kind of post creates a chilling effect — really, why is there such hostility toward creative expression? The unadulterated rage toward the poem here was stunning; one angry post seemed to empower the next. From the outside it looked like bullying.

  • Larry Hogue

    Thank you thank you thank you! After hearing Dzhokhar’s friends from school talk about him, seeing pictures of him with his friends, all my wife and I could think of was, “He’s just a baby, he’s the same age as our son!” What could have happened to him to make him do something so atrocious? Of course we thought, his older brother led him into it. Feeling very sad for the bombing victims, but also very sad about what could have led this young man to do what he did. There won’t be any healing or peace in the world until all sides everywhere can begin to feel empathy and compassion for one another. That’s what both Jesus and Buddha would want us to do.

  • stormypink

    Condemn no one, lest ye yourself be condemned

  • Phoenix

    Ever since I’ve learned about ACEscores, I look at troubled people, criminals and tragedies like the Boston bombing from a slightly different perspective. Apart from the evident pain and horror, I am curious about why, how, what caused it. Where did it go wrong, what is the background of this person. In this article you will find many clues. Not excuses, mind. Possible instigators. A good, interesting, thought provoking read.

    If you’re not familiar with the ACE study, I suggest trying these, learning about it was an eyeopener to me.

    Meanwhile, I hope whatever caused your plans to fall apart will be something good eventually. I wonder.. I have a hunch. But I’m sure you’ll tell us when you’re ready, if we need to know at all.

    • x

      this is interesting.
      (I find myself also wondering about Amanda Palmer’s ACE score.)

  • Lisa

    It makes me sad, and tired, that you even have to write this lengthy explanation. But thanks for giving the insight, and for continuing to share your art so freely.


    when i say LOVE you best believe I’m in love. L.U.V.

  • Eric Bailey

    If it’s any compensation, you’re in good company. The Dalai Lama caught similar flack a few years back for expressing empathy for Hitler as a fellow human being. A lot of people just can’t seem to get that one can feel empathy for someone without condoning their actions.

    China even uses that as part of their justification to viciously persecute Buddhists, never mind that China’s government is Fascist, like Hitler’s (even though they label themselves as Communist).

    • PhilSpectorsUnderpants

      Everyone just needs to lighten up a bit. Take a deep breath. And have a good laugh at this one! hahahaha.

  • whatevs

    I think the real lesson to all of this is that 9 minutes is not long enough to spend writing a poem, and maybe titles are important, and probably the more sensational and the closer the topic, the more time it needs. I think Amanda’s intentions were good–I always thought they were–but that doesn’t mean the poem adequately reflected those intentions.
    Her refrain through this whole controversy was that we just weren’t reading carefully enough, that we needed to reread and reread. But there are two different types of hard-to-understand poetry: poems with multiple layers of meaning that reward deeper investigation because they are complex, and poems that aren’t complex enough.
    I could have reread the poem a hundred times with all my English major and writer skills on full-power, and it would still have seemed flat. Even with this backstory, it still reads basically the same way.
    I believe in empathy. I believe in writing about people who do terrible things as real, developed people with multiple threads to their lives and multiple feelings. I believe that if literature has no other purpose, it’s that. Good literature makes the “other” into the self. It slams black and white together until they become grey. So Amanda Palmer’s motives are very dear to my heart.
    But there’s a difference between a poem that is misread and one that’s miswritten.
    Understand, I don’t think anyone’s justified in wishing any poet harm. But I also wonder if this is really the great rallying call for empathy and art in times of terror that Amanda Palmer wants to make it. Maybe it’s more of a rallying call for revision.

  • oyyoyoy

    I mean. C’mon. When you say shit like “it is always very interesting when people misinterpret art, and then get angry about it.” What gives you the right to be this super special artistic guru while everyone else simply “doesn’t get it”. I’m not sure what pseudo-art-intellectual planet you’re writing from, but from this dimension and planet you’re coming across (and let me be blunt) an asshole.

  • Our Mrs. Reynolds

    Well said, flynn99; I was trying to get my head around an idea, and you’ve laid it out very eloquently.

    I thoroughly believe/feel that the most important thing we can be doing, in the whole world, ever, is asking ourselves ‘why?’ – whether that’s applied to criminal investigations, social disenfranchisement, the value of art, the way people react to their environments. I see that a lot of people are beating the ‘insensitive’ dead horse, and, while I want to shake them and yell ‘THIS is your biggest gripe? A POEM?’ the more important and resounding issue is WHY they can’t let go of the poem and move onto the social ramifications. I have my theories, but I’m trying my damnedest not to be a snob.

    However the poem resonates with you or I, it’s worth noting the e-word, empathy, that Amanda’s shown towards all of us by hosting a safe and moderately tolerant space for us to sound off in. I wouldn’t have the bravery and patience to expose my inner workings on this scale, especially in light of the mud slinging. I suspect it takes a very tolerant, uber open minded person to allow us this soap box – and that’s a beautiful thing.

    That is all x

  • wickedangrybroguy

    seriously though, you are the worst person.

  • Fanintheattic

    I’m dismayed at the poster who likened the shit storm surrounding this AFP “poem” to the controversy over what the Dalai Lama said about Hitler. The Dalai Lama stated and you can correct me if I’m wrong that even Hitler in his youth must have had some compassion. The anger I feel over the poem and the poets subsequent blog is not over her feeling compassion towards the bomber but rather her complete lack of compassion or empathy towards those people whom she has hurt will ill timed ill considered words and an almost belligerent attitude the hey this is art support it you dolts. It’s not my fault you can’t understand it. Come down off the mountain AFP it gets lonely at such lofty heights

  • Give to ONE fund, not AFP fund

    Stop shaking your fucking hat for tips and stop flapping your useless gums for attention. Here’s a concept, if you’re going to post a 31 word footer about donating the One Fund, maybe you should remove the 118 word footer about donating to your overstuffed pockets. As always, this is about you getting fed. Feeding your piece of shit ego, and feeding your greedy pockets.

  • Fanintheattic

    The Dalai Lama she ain’t. And as for a nice email from Bono the dude has been pretty quite as Ireland slips slowly into the shitter. Has he paid his property tax yet. Oh ya he cut out and ran and is a tax exile in holland feed the poor, end world hunger but fuck Ireland. I know this comment makes me look like a jackass but the guy really gets up my nose.

  • Caterina Maria

    I may not always agree with you. I may vehemently disagree with you at times. Today I find myself nodding and saying, “Yeah. She gets it.” Meaning you. Because there is a major problem in this country when I have to fucking preemptively blog about controlling knee-jerk reactions and not being hateful. There is a major fucking problem in this country when I have to stop and worry that some asshole is going to mistake my mother for someone dangerous because her voice isn’t American. Her voice. Which has given me such love and comfort over so many years. Because she could be mistaken for something that nobody really understands. And God help me, I do feel sympathy. I even feel empathy. For everyone involved. People who have been the New Girl in a country that is an Old Boys’ Club demanding assimilation as stridently as the Borg, well, people like me, we come to understand. Thank you for understanding.

  • castor synergy

    Amanda – You are saying an awful lot about a poem you wrote. You are adding context to try to distance yourself from it. I don’t find your poem offensive at all. But, I have to ask, as one artist to another – which is it? Are you defending your own work of art, or do you want us to believe that this is something you just dashed off carelessly, OR that the feelings are deeply felt, OR that they were barely felt? Do you actually think that putting the name of a terrorist suspect as part of the text of dedication was not provocative? What on earth is your intention, was this art, or note taking? If it was art, fine, go ahead and defend it as art. If it was not much but the contents of your brain (which we all have, none more important than anyone else) then please stop trying to hold it up as more than that. Honestly, you are starting to sound like an art student who put together a pretty mediocre mixed media piece and is in the middle of a really bad critique, and so therefore decides to talk about the whole validity of art criticism as a sad defense mechanism.

    I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you put yourself out there. You obviously piss people off, and some adore you, but the ones you piss off, you’re not even pissing them off for some greater good – it’s still just about YOU and YOUR personal expression. We hear you! Loud and clear! You have an enormous stage, bigger than most artists in the world. Imagine if you had REALLY tried to create an important piece of work that you slaved over that dealt with this situation – the complexities of it, the pain of it. THEN, I’d say, ‘The woman really worked hard, she deserves credit, let her express herself.’ But I can’t defend a sloppy artist. Don’t turn this into an issue of freedom of expression. You know as well as I that that has nothing to do with it. You’ve been heard. Stop writing this ridiculous back-story to prop your ‘work’ up.

    • wolcotte

      Exactly this. She starts out saying it was a hastily written collection of banal details of her day mashed together with thoughts about Dzhokhar, claims the title could have been anything, and THEN wants us to behold it as great art that is above criticism? Or worse yet that we were too stupid to understand, as mentioned in the “Read it again” tweet. Talk about wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

  • Avalonisrael

    Thank you for your words. they are absolutely needed in our world. Your art is beautiful, your music sounds great. greetings from far away Israel, Peace and love to all your readers and to everyone.

  • Jason Cooley

    “got a nice email from bono about art, timing & misunderstanding. if ever there was a guy who’d empathize with my past few days, it’s him.”


    • Jason Cooley

      I mean “wow” sarcastically. She obviously still doesnt have a clue as to why people are disgusted. Now she’s bragging about getting an email from Bono.

      I never want to hear the words “art” or “empathy” ever again.

    • cultasaurus

      I think she made that up.

  • southshorealltheway

    Honey, you suck. I am embarrassed that you are from Boston.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    This same type of artistic sensibility was in evidence immediately after 9/11, also. Many poets and other artists mused on their shock, or free-associated. What was missing was any sense that the artists felt that 9/11 had happened to them. Simultaneously alienated from and dependent on the surrounding American civilization, they acted as if they were observing events from some distant ether, and not from down here with the rest of us.

    Try this thought experiment: Have you ever been threatened by an Islamist terrorist? Answer: if you’ve read any of Al Qaeda’s communiques over the years, you’ll know that yes, you have.

  • CaptianObvious

    “backlash”? You provoked the community to gain attention on purpose. You should consider this a one hundred percent success Amanda! Or I guess an apology for being a big jerk would also work right about now. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do though. Keep your chin up!

  • el blooz

    it’s amazing the number of people who just know, mind-readers that they are, that AFP was doing this to cash in or bring attention to herself.

    Why, you all could make money with that power! Why aren’t you?

    • Boot2TheHead

      That’s the part that makes this so sad and frustrating for us I guess. I don’t know. Did you shock anyone today with something jerkish and stupid to gain attention to yourself? Probably not. Unless you are like 12 years old, then ok.

  • TumbleweedB

    I’ve been reading through the comments, but I’m getting overwhelmed by the repetition of ideas. A bunch of folks were fans but now aren’t because they don’t like the poem, or the blog about the poem, or Amanda’s Twitter responses to the poem and blog…so…leave. Go. You are free to do so at any time. But interestingly, you aren’t leaving without telling Amanda and her fans why. You want to make sure we all know exactly how you feel. You are engaging with her the way so many of her fans always have, on a personal level. You feel personally hurt/insulted/disgusted/betrayed/all the feelings, and you want to share them. You could have just stopped reading her writings and listening to her music, but that’s not what you’re doing. You’re making a public display of your displeasure, for all the world to see. So how exactly does that make you different from what you accuse her of, namely demanding attention and stirring the pot just to create controversy?

    Some people have resorted to name-calling, of Amanda and of any fans who still enjoy her work and support her. Why attack others, for not agreeing with you? Maybe Amanda has done this in the past, but she’s not perfect, she makes mistakes, just like the rest of us, so why not try to be better than that?

    You claim to know exactly why she wrote and published the poem, but how could you? We only know of her what she shares with us, and she actually doesn’t share everything. She has a right to free speech, Constitutionally, and she has a right to her opinions, just as the rest of us do. She has a right to feel whatever she feels, and to express it however she sees fit, just as the rest of us do. She engaged with people, to tell them they misunderstood her intent with the poem and/or misinterpreted it, and that was probably a mistake. Art is always interpreted, and as such, there isn’t really a “wrong” way to do it. A person may not pick up what the artist intended, but that doesn’t make their interpretation wrong. She didn’t need to correct people, but as an artist, she felt compelled to defend something she made. Most artists do that.

    It’s a poem. It’s just a poem. Written by one person, working out their own thoughts and feelings. Other media sources picked up on it and are making a big deal about it. So what? That’s what happens in our connected society. It’s just a poem. Maybe the timing is bad, for you. It’s not for others, and clearly it’s not for her. Why do so many of us have such a hard time understanding that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and opinion isn’t fact? It’s just a poem. One poem, about something awful that happened. You don’t like it? Don’t read it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t listen to anything Amanda Palmer says anymore. But that’s not enough for so many people on here, is it? No, you need to tell everyone else how wrong they are, how wrong Amanda is, how right your perspective, your OPINION, is. You’re offended, sometimes on behalf of other people. You’re disappointed in her, someone you don’t really know. She’s an artist whose work you enjoyed, who you felt connected to, but now you don’t like her anymore because she’s stupid/narcissistic/egotistical, etc. She’s a person, just like you. She fucks up, just like you, just like all of us. It’s just a poem.

    • cultasaurus

      Time to leave the cult.

  • lroberts

    One of the great empathizers was Abraham Lincoln. He did his best to lead a country so divided that brothers killed brothers, and he did that with his heart. He forgave the deserters of his own army, and he forgave the South for their transgressions—which led to such death that mourning was redefined. Forgiveness is paramount, unless you want to become like those you claim to hate. Amanda, you are in good company. Abe would be proud.

    • bostonsue

      good God, did you just compare Amanda Palmer to one of Abraham Lincoln? I’m dumbfounded.

  • sarahkatheryn

    The fact that there are people in the world like Dzhokhar who commit these unimaginable, inhumane acts is the best reason I can possibly think of for having empathy towards anyone, everyone. We need empathy because he had none when acting as he did. We need empathy because, regardless of whether or not it is deserved, without it we are no better.

    I had mixed feelings about the poem, but I also assumed that was the point. WE FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS, not just the ones we’re “supposed to”.

  • paige

    Hm. Just discovered (I avoid mainstream news outlets like the plague they are) that Fox “News” covered this…issue? thing? event? I have to say, that explains a lot of the trolls and tone in the comment thread.

    I don’t think that a male with a similar public profile would have come under this much criticism. Women aren’t supposed to be loud, have opinions, refuse to toe the line.

    And I remain consistently confused by people who hate-stalk others on the internet. Where on earth do they find the time? Seems like really weird attention-seeking behavior to me.

    ( I am having second thoughts about posting this, in a forum in which I have always felt safe to share. So I will go ahead and post this, put the flame suit on and hope for…not the worst)

    • bostonsue

      please don’t call her a victim for being female. she is female. she’s also an asshole. we can call women that in these post-feminist days.

      • Paige

        We disagree.

  • Reddeer

    If Amanda Palmer were a man, would people have attacked her so harshly? If she were a woman, but a nice, suburban-looking woman with normal eyebrows who played folky, quiet piano music, would people have gone for the throat so quickly? If Dzhokhar Tsarenev were a white American kid from the suburbs, would it have been such a cardinal sin to wonder what was going through his mind?

    Come on, people, lets be honest. People judge heavily based on appearances. It’s because of Amanda, with her loud and sometimes abrasive public image and her refusal to live up to what we think a nice girl should be, that half the readers had made up their mind about the poem before they’d read the first line. Or, they’d had their minds made up for them by some fox news talking head.

    See, cause Amanda is weird. She’s a weird, arty chick that writes songs that are ‘out-there’, and those kinds of people do weird things like writing love poems to terrorists (hint: it’s not a love poem) But oh well, gotta direct the outrage somewhere, might as well be some poet you’ve been told to hate.

    • bostonsue

      um, wtf? I’m a weird art kid too, and a loud riot girl, but I love my city and this insults it.

  • X

    “Hundreds of blog readers clicked through to the ONE Foundation…”

    Well, isn’t that interesting. For all the bitching about what terrible harm she’s been doing the world in various convoluted ways… Amanda is partially responsible for at least a few hundred dollars being donated to the victims. Real-world money, real-world good happening. Because of her poem.

    Sorry, remind me again, trolls… what have you been doing? Oh, yes, that’s right. What you always do. Bitching at the people actually making a difference.

  • X

    “Hundreds of blog readers clicked through to the ONE Foundation…”

    Well, isn’t that interesting. For all the bitching about what terrible harm she’s been doing the world in various convoluted ways… Amanda is partially responsible for at least a few hundred dollars being donated to the victims. Real-world money, real-world good happening. Because of her poem.

    Sorry, remind me again, trolls… what have you been doing? Oh, yes, that’s right. What you always do. Bitching at the people actually making a difference.

    • X

      Not bad for 9 minutes’ work.

  • James

    I think your poetry is definitely better than your music.

  • jmarshall9

    Amanda, you are a soulless, talentless, opportunistic fool. Josef Stalin called bitches like you “useful idiots”.

    • bostonsue

      what does that mean? “useful idiots”? as distractions or something?

  • JohnnyMcMillan

    I’m sure your feel empathy for rapists and child abusers too ???

  • Stimpy

    Dude, what is up with your eyebrows?

  • Fsnook

    Amanda, you are a wretched creature, outside and in. That is all.

  • Heather

    Thank you. For the poem and this blog about it. It helped me realize I am not alone in feeling the way I do about everything that happened. That’s the true power of art.

    I wish I could be more articulate than I am at this point in time, but I just wanted you to know that. Thank you so much.

  • lilim

    a lot of this reminded me of what Aaron Weiss said after Osama was killed ..

    “I don’t know anything about who Osama Bin Laden [was.] I don’t
    understand any of it. But I can go inside and find that there are
    terrorists in my heart. I could find all sorts of extremists and
    religious fanatics and murderers and hiders. But to point and say “He’s
    the bad guy because he did that, I’m a good guy.” Well, it would
    undermine everything we were talking about earlier.

    You say, “We’re all one, let’s all hold hands and have a potluck.”
    It’s easy to say when everyone’s getting along. But when somebody
    murders your family, are you one with them? Are you one with the
    murderer? Are you one with the terrorist? Are you one with the religious

    It seems like that’s where the line is drawn. “No, no, nope. That’s
    not me. I would never do that. I’m not like Osama Bin Laden, I’m not
    like… a pedophile or serial killer.” Or any other sleazy character you
    could imagine. It’s very easy to keep them on the outside and make
    ourselves somehow better. But the sword comes and cuts that too. There’s
    nothing that anyone’s ever done that you wouldn’t do. There’s no one
    that you’re better than.”

    (the interview is here and there’s a lot more that he said about death and truth and it’s wonderful and you should read it, but also it reminded me of this letter that a seminarian wrote a couple of days after the bombing, entitled Dear Dzhokhar, I Can’t Hate You. (which you can read here if you haven’t already

    whenver things like this happen, i have a very hard time understanding why so many people, even kind, usually supportive, and understanding people are so quick to jump onto the bandwagon and demonize the people commiting these atrocities. i know it’s very easy for a lot to do, but it astounds me endlessly the sheer number of people that do it. i was brought up to pray if i saw smoke coming from a building, or an ambulance rushing past on the street. i was taught to pray if people asked you for it, if they were in trouble or hurting or sad. i was told to pray if i felt scared. i’ve had a lot of doubts when it comes to religion as i’ve gone through my teen years and i’m still trying to figure out exactly what i do and don’t believe. but i still pray. i wear medals of saints around my neck and when i’m anxious or confused and i get the mean reds, i grip them and i ask for help. it may seem weak or pathetic or silly to a large number of people but it helps me. i can’t help but think that the people who bomb, shoot, strangle, cut and kill are feeling anxious, confused, scared, helpless– and even if they don’t feel anything at all, i have no reason to believe that that doesn’t mean that they don’t still need help. even to be emotionally cut off, or disconnected, should not mean you’re no longer human. if a person’s nerves are damaged and they don’t feel pain, it doesn’t mean that they don’t incur damage. so then even if a person doesn’t feel regret or remorse from doing something that harms another, wouldn’t it make sense that they still in some way are damaging themselves when they hurt others? because i know that when i’ve done things that hurt my family, hurt my friends, i felt as much pain over it as i would have if they had hurt me.
    the first thing i think of in a sitatuion like this, is that these people need prayer, and help, and support and love. the victims will get it tenfold. they’ll have songs, and poems, and hugs, and help. because that’s the first thought in most people’s heads. but it’s the ones that are responsible that are most often overlooked, forgotten, attacked, judged, hated. this is what we’re doing wrong. hate never solves anything.

    • Fanintheattic

      Your post on this blog is the touching and sympathetic stand point that should have been adopted in this instance. Fantastically written, emotive, and touching. Well done you.

  • Valda

    In 1968, I wrote a little poem, too. It went like this;
    Sirhan Sirhan
    killed a man
    killed a man
    poor man
    poor man
    Sirhan Sirhan
    How else do we express the inexpressible?

  • Realist

    So much to say…. firstly, please evolve and shrive yourself of a belief in good and evil…. that’s for children, religious ideologues and the thick of head. Mankind must evolve past this tribalism and match its technical prowess with much more social progress. Secondly, I accuse all the “concerned” people who shout about what a tragedy this is for being totally disingenuous….. the only reason you give a shit is that you can project yourself into the tragedy… middle class first world brats who expect to be safe from everything. Moreover it takes zero courage to bleat threats and hate at someone over the internet with an assumed name… never type on the internet what you would not be willing to say in person. Thirdly, “terrorism” is a consequence of empire…. the US has pursued an imperial corporate policy around the world and played byzantine political games so now some of its citizens have to suffer…. tragic but inevitable. The bombing was cruel, stupid and counterproductive but the perpetrators were soldiers in a war.. that’s why they must be executed if found guilty as they were operating without uniforms and thus are subject to capital justice if captured. Lastly, I would like to thank you Amanda for your music and art… it means a great deal to me and my fiance (caught your show in Vancouver… awesome!). If you ever need a crashpad in central British Columbia we would be glad to host :) Lastly I would like to mourn for ALL tragedies (Boston bombing, drone strikes, firefights, etc. ) and I hope someday we will evolve to the point we outgrow them.

  • Iwonder

    How… HOW can anybody hear about a mass murderer or a terrorist and NOT wonder, at least for a few moments, what could be going on in his head? I do it EVERY TIME I hear about something awful on the news. EVERY. TIME. Because it’s compelling, and fascinating, and sad. Why on earth would a person do something so insane and perverse? I want to know, and at the same time I don’t want to know.
    Seriously? You guys (hating on the poem) have NEVER thought that!? You just hear about someone doing something so antithetical to human feeling and you think, “Well, that’s just a monster. Those just exist. Done.” No curiosity, no turmoil at all?

    Or, maybe you have those thoughts, and you’re scared to think of that fact, and Amanda reminding you just makes you angry?

    • formerfan

      um, hello?!? the “hating” on the poem has to do with its utter obliviousness and narcissism. and that it’s a transparent attempt for attention. at a time when people are hurting.

      • Eyes-a-rolling

        Ok the narcissism thing has gotta stop. She wrote a poem… in 9 minutes. And it probably didn’t take her much time to put it on her blog. So if this is a publicity stunt or something it’s hardly a super calculated one. And the whole “How could you do this (thing which took 9 minutes) while there’s children hurting” line doesn’t really resonate with me. Again 9 fucking minutes! Did I miss the part where it turned out Amanda Palmer is moonlighting as a nurse at one of the hospitals where the injured victims are being cared for? And in that period of 9 minutes she could have saved a life but instead chose to write a poem. Unless that’s what happened all I can see is someone who did what everyone else including most of the people that called her narcissistic did, wrote something quickly about what’s going on in this country and put those thoughts on the internet, and then went and did other things. How is she any more narcissistic than every other asshole with a blog, facebook account, or twitter account? If you don’t like the poem that’s your deal but I think the most you can get away with saying without claiming you can read Amanda’s mind is that she was thoughtless. Because in so many words she admitted as much.However, were one to make that accusation I’d just have one question: Is there some base level of thought we are all wordlessly obligated to put into everything we post on the internet? Or does that just go for disasters and big events like the Boston Marathon bombing?

    • Fanintheattic

      It’s not about not having empathy for the bomber it’s about AFP using this tragedy to further her own career with this sad homage to her own over inflated ego.

    • Fanintheattic

      It’s not about not having empathy for the bomber it’s about AFP using this tragedy to further her own career with this sad homage to her own over inflated ego.

    • Fanintheattic

      It’s not about not having empathy for the bomber it’s about AFP using this tragedy to further her own career with this sad homage to her own over inflated ego.

    • Fanintheattic

      It’s not about not having empathy for the bomber it’s about AFP using this tragedy to further her own career with this sad homage to her own over inflated ego.

    • Fanintheattic

      It’s not about not having empathy for the bomber it’s about AFP using this tragedy to further her own career with this sad homage to her own over inflated ego.

      • Hannah Schuetz

        but, if we can manage to have empathy and reserve some judgement on the bomber…why can’t it spread to Ms. Palmer? How are her motivations ssooooooooo obvious?

  • ArthurusNM

    you don’t know
    how it feels
    to have a throat fired by oneself


    “and i thought: this is amazing. when was the last time a thousand people argued about a stupid poem?”

    Yeah it’s so amazing how you used a national tragedy to feed your narcicism and then hid behind a wall of lame excuses like poetry month when you were rightfully called out on it. I can’t wait for the next people you rip-off to take your sorry ass to court and take everything you have. It’ll be karma for a lifetime of being a terrible person.

  • Raul Mondesi

    People weren’t arguing about your poem. There was a consensus that it sucked ass and demonstrated a staggering degree of narcissism.

  • trish

    Speaking of empathy and sympathy, Amanda, I feel SYMPATHY for you. Sympathy for your desperate attempt to feel relevant, even though you aren’t. Sympathy for your desperate need for attention. Most of all, I feel sympathy for the people who think you are genuine. Not once, in this entire blog, or any of the others of yours I read concerning this tragedy, have you once talked about anything besides yourself, or your so-called sympathy for “your city”, or the actual victims of this tragedy. Please do yourself a favor and check your obviously massive ego and self-centered childishness at the door, or just shut up. Save your whining for your husband, or maybe write a few lessthan medicro songs.

    • trish

      PS- If you have to explain your “art” to people… I think it’s safe to say it’s not art, but rather garbage. Good job, sweetie.

  • Manny Velazquez

    I think your meaning becomes more more apparent when brought to life, i.e. “youtube”

    • D

      Get a life.

    • bostonsue

      marry me, Manny Velazquez

  • Athonwy Doherty

    Dance little monkeys, dance to Amanda’s tune!

    I love your work Amanda, and appreciate your being willing to spark and fan the flames of this discussion.

  • glinda_nw

    Haven’t said this before, but your poem expressed some of the complexity of what I’ve been feeling, more articulately than I could. It’s hard to be compassionate towards those who have harmed us (for whatever value of “us” you want); and yet… one can abhor someone’s actions, and still struggle to understand the why of it beyond the simplistic “haters gonna hate”. Though there are certain… groups… that I’ve decided I *can’t* understand, some people who are sociopathic. It’s … *shakes head* *wanders away, babbling inarticulately*

    Anyway, thank you.

  • blue7fairy

    The poem did not upset me and did not resinate with me either, i had no strong reaction to it, BUT what does bother me is the idea that you can misinterpreted art. Art is soly for interpretation, art with only one meaning ( that of the creator) is art for that person. Art that has a meaning for each view/listen/read, is art to be shared. The viewers meaning becomes as valuable and “correct” as the artist the moment it is released to the public. So as an Amanda palmer fan I guess the part I am upset with is her presumption b the “haters” misinterpreted her art, if we are so connected it is our art and our meaning s.

  • Shauna

    A Poem For Amanda

    dear amanda
    the salon article called your poem

    on the upside,
    thry did not mention your
    pubic hair
    or eyebrows

    I consider this a significant step forward.

  • cult alert

    No news in my Google reader for “Amanda Palmer” now for 2 days. She’s slipping.

  • graaleene

    To create art that creates reaction is and should be our goal.

  • emma

    I saw you with the Dresden Dolls in Denver many many moons ago.
    I’m not a huge fan, I’m a fan.
    I saw a link on facebook to the buzzfeed thing about the two poems mocking your poem, with the caption “what a tool”.
    I really don’t understand what this controversy is about. It’s a personal poem about personal feelings on a personal blog (granted, a celebrity, but still personal). You’re not blaming any Republicans or Democrats or Americans or Chechens or sympathizing with anyone.
    Yes though, kudos for getting people to pay attention to a poem and getting others to write their own.

    I know you don’t need me saying this, but stay strong.

  • Félix Marqués

    I am fascinated by the process through which you look at someone who said something you find morally reprehensible and decide you’re also gonna consider her “talentless” or “soulless”. You don’t KNOW her! Why can’t you just critizise the specific act that bothered you?

  • Holly Hoskinson

    I don’t know what people are so pissed about. The context of how mundane things continue to go on in the midst of the chaos surrounding a horrific event seems fairly clear. But it is difficult to see clearly through pain and fear – there is also a bit of herd mentality that goes along with that. And that’s no criticism of the response; it’s a protective/coping mechanism. This isn’t abstract stuff, you can see it on Animal Planet.

    • Peter Pappas

      Nice try. Vileness is vileness. Putting it in iambic pentameter and calling it “art” doesn’t excuse it.

      • Underhill

        Well, you… don’t know what iambic pentameter is, first of all…

        • Peter Pappas

          I invented the term iambic pentameter. Before that they just called it a line of verse with five pairs of stressed and unstressed syllables.

  • Amanda Wheatland

    According to Buddhists, Buddha taught a couple of thought-provoking things. First, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Second, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

  • Emilie K Jensen

    Amanda Fucking Palmer, you speak words that are so deeply connected to my soul, my self expression, that until I read them I wasn’t sure how to phrase my feelings about Boston… I remembered hearing about the bombings, and I was taken back to early January, to a conversation I was having in a seminar, after the shootings happened at the Elementary school. “Who are WE in the matter?” was the question… “What is our stand? How are we cause in the matter of this episode of human violence and suffering…?” What I got was that it’s so simple to place blame but to take ultimate responsibility as an accountable human being? That’s the ultimate challenge, the ultimate human condition. I notice that my identity gets so wrapped up inside of my own struggle, my own suffering, my own survival, that I forget that it’s not just the runners, the spectators, the bombers, the security and event management, or the city and citizens of Boston that are impacted by this event… but the shock-wave impacts us all.

    This isn’t a hard concept to grasp, but what the breakdown is that I forget that my actions have just as monumental impact. No, I have never lost my legs to a bomb meant to maim and destroy flesh; I’ve never taken violent action against another human with the intention of causing physical or psychological harm. Regardless, I still played my part in the bombing in Boston by not giving of myself unreservedly… I contributed to the fear machine in the past, giving into reactions and the automatic fear that comes from hearing about these horrific events… I too have blamed others instead of looking inward and saying “Where haven’t I taken a stand for others having an awesome life? How am I shirking responsibility as a fellow human being? What’s my say in the matter of everyone finding peace and self-expression?”

    The dehumanization of these boys has troubled me greatly since last Monday. Yes… apprehension was necessary. We had to make sure it did not happen again. And to depict them as animals bent on destruction is truly saddening. The United States has sent money to and had business relationships with people who have committed worse crimes against fellow humans than these two boys in Boston. Yet somehow, that’s different. It’s sanctified because there’s an exchange of goods and money and if we didn’t participate in that game our cred’ as a country would suffer.

    I’m committed to everyone having an awesome life. Not everyone shares that commitment and then wonders why stuff like the bombings happen. It’s not a surprise–people aren’t accountable for their actions–thinking that they don’t have an impact on other people… walking around like their actions or words don’t hit home with someone… If everyone could just be clear on the impact that they have on their world… what would our communities look like? What kind of world could we create?

    • Realist

      Brilliant…. simply brilliant :)

      • Emilie K Jensen

        Thank you for reading. :)

    • Johnny Alpha

      Those were not boys, they were men, and to call them such just shows how you want THEM to be the victims rather than the REAL victims. Those men dehumanized THEMSELVES when they acted in an inhuman manner, blowing up little kids. We did not dehumanize them nor could we to the extent that they have shown themselves to be inhuman. You are bent on blaming anyone and everyone for their actions other than the real perpetrators, and most rational people find this view odious and disgusting. I suggest you do some soul-seaching as to how and why your mind has become so twisted that you equivocate and make excuses for child murderers.

      • flynn99

        If you live in Pakistan, amongst other countries, “the people who would butcher you and your children without the blink of an eye” are Barack Obama and the remote pilots of the US drones that fly in the skies there.

        In the past few years at least 200 children have been murdered by drone strikes.

        Would you say Barack Obama was inhuman, or the drone pilots? They knowingly drop bombs on children. How are they different from Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

        You say the touchy-feely-love-everyone dream doesn’t make this better. How would *you* go about making this better? I ask this seriously, because the only way I can see of doing it is with the touchy-feely stuff.


        • Michael Williamson

          An eye for an eye making the whole world blind.

        • Johnny Alpha

          Really?! You think Barack Obama targets children on purpose?! It’s SOOOO tiresome to have to explain obvious differences to those like yourself blinded by moral relativism, or just perhaps sheer stupidity. The difference between Barack Obama and Tsarnaev brothers is that Obama, vis á vis the military, seek to avoid killing children which is why they spend millions of dollars on technologies (GPS laser guidance etc.) to minimize collateral damage and when it does happen it’s an infinitely regrettable occurrence, whereas The Tsarnaev’s PURPOSEFULLY target innocents. if you can’t see a moral distinction between killing a child by accident, and killing one on purpose, then you are as stupid as I think you are.

          • flynn99

            I respectfully disagree. The fact that you use the euphemism ‘collateral damage’ shows your position. You can use all the laser guidance you like, but if children are in the vicinity of the adult you’re trying to kill, chances are they get killed too. If you *don’t know* whether children are in the vicinity or not, but you know from past experience (200+ child deaths) that there is a good chance children will be in the same building/market/etc, and you still drop the bomb – then you are purposefully murdering children.

            If killing a child in a drone strike was *infinitely* regrettable they would stop the drone attacks now. They don’t, because they consider the murder of children to be worth the cost. Just as the Tsarnaev brothers considered it to be worth the cost to further their aims.

          • Johnny Alpha

            By your definitions, all auto manufacturers are “murderers”, as odious as terrorists, because they know a certain number of citizens will be killed each year behind the wheels of their automobiles, but they do it anyway because it’s worth the cost. Despite the fact that they do crash safety testing, invent airbag technology, backup warning alerts etc, according to you. they are still guilty of murder because they continue to sell cars even though they know children will die in accidents. I’m trying to point out the moral difference between intent, and you are focused on outcomes. A car manufacturer has no desire to see children die, as Barack Obama, and you, and I have no desire to see children die. A person who places a bomb at the feet of a child DOES have a desire to see a child die. These same people pack the bomb with nails and shrapnel to increase collateral damage, to increase the bombs ability to kill indiscriminately. I submit that there is a profound moral difference between these different types of acts, and that difference is important in regard to the law, justice and public policy. We don’t send a parent to jail who accidentally killed their child in a car accident, nor should we. Disregarding intent is moral relativism. Of course, if you believe in your heart of hearts that Barack Obama INTENDS to kill children, then that is perhaps your own cynicism talking, or your own despair at the human race, and I can’t help you with that.

          • flynn99

            A leader purposefully murdering (or rather ordering the murder of) children isn’t unheard of – in WW2, the UK and Germany both bombed civilian populations and President Truman ordered the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            I agree that the Boston bombers aimed to kill innocent people, including children. And I concede that Barack Obama, via the military, aims to kill militant targets and does not want to kill children. However, given the number of civilian drone strike casualties, I do not believe that all civilian deaths are merely accidents. I think that the decision is taken to target militants with the knowledge that civilians are in the same building/vicinity and will be killed too.

      • Emilie K Jensen

        I really get how you see that in my post, regardless of my intention, and I personally apologize for how my point of view has landed for you and the others who have taken affront to it. I see how I didn’t quite give the full scope of my opinion and that just doesn’t work in this context.

        So, that we’re clear, I thoroughly agree: there isn’t any excuse for child murder. I do not sanctify or rationalize away the horrifying and terrible actions taken by Dzokhar and his brother. I trust that the judicial process will ensure that Dzokhar will never have the opportunity to terrorize others again, and I am glad for it.

        That being said, I want to know what you think… Why is it that these horrific things keep happening to our American communities? Are we doomed to experience these awful events year after year or is there a solution that we can take on individually? Or do we wait until a force like government steps in to solve it for us?

  • Julie-Anne Carroll

    I absolutely LOVED your poem and I shared it with my International Health students. Of-course it was about empathy. This is what artists do – they remind us that we all can and do have empathy – and that things are not black and white. I felt like I totally ‘got’ the poem and it made me feel excited and happy that someone was brave enough to openly take that perspective and to remind us of our shared fragility, humanness, and goodness. THANK YOU. XX

    • Johnny Alpha

      We don’t need to be reminded of that in a thoughtless and careless 9-minute carwreck of a missive masquerading as something deep or meaningful. What we do need is to be thinking more about the poor kids who got their legs blown off. We don’t need a lesson in morality from a self-serving hyper narcissistic hack.

      • Realist

        Did you get a good lawyer when you were divorced from reality?

  • Matthew Mack

    I’m sure if the bomber owned Chic-Fil-A or was a member of the Tea Party, she wouldn’t have felt a shred of empathy. Just blind fucking rage.

  • Demetrius R. Evans

    Amanda, thank you (and your parents, of course) for being. Have a safe and splendid day.

  • SolveigStokkeland

    I hope that your fingers don’t get too sore from the picking.

  • Stéphanie Paes

    Thank you , Amanda,for posting these thoughts. There’s a long discussion going on here in Brazil about the possibility of reducing the penal minority from 18 to 16 years (some people are suggesting even less!), which is insane due to a lot of reasons. It all started after an underaged boy killed another in a cruel way and the news were spread by the media with a good amount of sensasionalism. So, most people’s opinios are fueled by hate, rage, misinformation and media brainstorming. So, this blog entry came in the right moment, and i’m allowing myself to share it and quote a part of it, ok? Once again, thank you!

    • Peter Pappas

      Is there an uncruel way to kill someone? And if so, should we reward underaged boys who kill kindly?

  • brookfield

    Dear Amanda, thank you for the poem

  • Dina Keratsis

    Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or
    write, for only in such response do we find the truth. – Madeleine L’Engle

  • NancyBoi

    “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
    See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
    I’m crying.”

    Thanks again, Amanda for reminding us that we are all together. One world, one people, one future.

    • Peter Pappas

      What we really need to do is to shed a tear for Dzhokar. Good God! I tremble for the future of my country.

  • Jack in the box

    You are a complete asshole. Everything you do is dumb and inane. You are the opposite of art, you are careless, shallow and unworthy.

  • mkspence

    I think you’re too old for him, Amanda.

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  • Daphne Abattoir

    Dear Amanda,

    Your poem responding to the Boston bombings drew fire, kudos, fire, and fallout from across the internet. Some of us can’t help from putting our hand on a hot burner, and poets from around the country have responded, collaborating to each take a line from your poem as the starting point of their own poem, addressing your, poem, the media, the Boston tragedy, or another related issue. We have made an e-book in exchange for a donation to the Waco Foundation’s relief fund for West, Texas. (More than $26 million has been raised in the wake of the Boston blast. As of 4.26.13, about $200,000 has been raised for West, according to CNN. They have spent approximately the same amount in
    disaster relief.

    • Peter Pappas

      The poem is vile and I believe she wrote it to provoke people. What else would make a person write something as insensitive and offensive as this? For Amanda and other self-absorbed, narcissistic “artists” art trumps everything. Very selfish. When she selected the title “A Poem FOR Dzhokhar” she sealed her fate. Sadly, for her, the internet is forever.

  • Sandy

    I was struck by the last line of your post, and it reminded me of a poem by Anais Nin I read for class as an English undergrad. Anais had an abortion in the 1930s and wrote a poem to her unborn child. Highly controversial, much discussed in my English class. Ultimately I think people took offense to your poem not because of its subject (because as you say, and I agree, we must make art out of chaos to help us understand the chaos), but because of its 9-minute creation and simple format. I think people felt like you trivialized your/their/our pain. I personally do not think that was your intention at all. I think you had something to say and just needed to fucking say it RIGHT NOW. And, discussions aside, that feeling should never be quelled or squelched and I commend you for following it through, even to your possible detriment.

  • kkvdesign

    Amanda, I think the thing I love best about you is that you aren’t afraid of “dangerous” art. Why shouldn’t art be controversial? All the best art always has been. Hell, the French used to riot fairly regularly outside the theatre–and sometimes in it. Art shouldn’t make us comfortable–it should make us THINK. Otherwise, what’s the point? Pretty pictures/music/literature might be nice, but I’d rather experience the visceral any day.

    • Peter Pappas

      It wasn’t dangerous what she wrote. It helped her get publicity. When she writes a poem calling for empathy for an Abortion Clinic Bomber or a KKK member, then I’ll call her courageous.

  • matthe james

    we’ve lost compassion, empathy and decency towards each other.. that’s how things like this happen in the first place.

    • Peter Pappas

      You couldn’t be further from the truth. The reason radical Muslims blow us up is because we have compassion, empathy and decency. Unlike them, we treat gay people as equals, are tolerant of other religions and beliefs and allow women the same freedoms as men.

  • Pat in Belgium

    A similar thing happened just post 9/ 11 when none other than Susan Sontag wrote a piece about, basically, keeping a cool head & not running off in all directions looking for vengeance. She was slammed in places like Time magazine as a traitor, given the old “love it or leave it” order that so-called “patriots” trot out whenever any kind of viewpoint other than theirs is expressed.

    I too wonder WHY this happened, what was going on in these kids’ minds that they arrived at such a horrific conclusion. I refuse to wipe it away with a blanket label of “terrorism”. And none of that takes one iota of feeling away from anyone affected by this.

  • Peter Pappas

    This is a cowardly, ex post facto justification for writing a highly insensitive, repugnant “poem.” It is no excuse that it took you only 9 minutes to write it. The fact that you would write something with a title as inflammatory as “A Poem for Dzhokhar” and not give more time to it shows how recklessly callous you are. And your instruction to your critics to “find a way to feel empathy towards everyone” is both condescending and absurd. I have no empathy for Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Jeffrey Dahmer, Pedophiles, or terrorists.
    It is inhumane to empathize with a “human being” who would place a bomb next to women and children knowing that it will blow their legs off. Don’t delude yourself that empathizing with terrorists makes you more human. It makes you less human.

  • Peter Pappas

    Why Ms. Palmer CHOSE to write a poem for the child-bombing terrorist instead of the little boy whose limbs he blew off: You get no attention if you write a poem about the boy who was blown to pieces, but you get tons of it if you write a poem for the boy who blew him to pieces. Vile!

  • Siân Barker

    Don’t ever stop doing what you do.
    Thank you x

    • Peter Pappas

      LOL. Amanda is on her heels and deservedly so. You do vile things you have to suffer the consequences. It’s called life.

  • Vera

    It sucks being misunderstood. I get what you were trying to do, Amanda. Its sad you live in a country that’s so knee-jerk and jingoistic that expressing sadness for the wrong person or in the wrong way gets you labelled a traitor. The backlash is how this kind of culture polices those who refer to toe the ideological line. All for a little poem with a few benign lines wondering sadly at the points of view of people we’re expected to be dehumanizing.

    Don’t worry. People are already getting bored of their recreational-outrage-fest and are wandering on to the next thing. Keep making cool art.

    • Peter Pappas

      Not me. I ain’t going anywhere. Amanda had a choice about which topic to write a 9 minute poem on. She had a choice of titles to give to that poem. She chose a poem calling for empathy for a man who blew childrens arms and legs off. She chose to dedicate that poem to the Boston Marathon bomber. If Amanda is free to write a poem as vile as this, we are free to point out its vileness. Our criticisms are not less worthy because we don’t publish them in blank verse?

      • Vera

        You are… an extremely simple person.

        • Peter Pappas

          Not as simple as Amanda Palmer.

        • Peter Pappas

          Don’t delude yourself that because one calls something she writes “art”, that it is immune from criticism. <———– art.

  • Underhill

    Somehow, I’m reminded of this Dylan song.

    They’ll stone you when you’re walking on the street
    They’ll stone you when you’re trying to keep your seat
    They’ll stone you when you’re trying to make a buck
    They’ll stone you and then they’ll say good luck
    But I would not feel so all alone,
    Everybody must get stoned!

    Don’t let it getcha down, girl. It’s what happens when you push boundaries to make the really interesting stuff. Everybody must get stoned.

  • Samuel Aaron Grandt

    People just LOOK for reasons to get pissed off, a lot of them don’t even care about who the poem was about, they just see what’s in front of them rather than looking below the surface.
    Art is art, no matter what it says, or who it’s intended for. That’s why they call it “art” isn’t for everyone.

  • Jim Watt

    Hi Amanda:

    I just heard you yesterday on NPR & came home & watched the Ted Talk and the new Video of The Bed Song. Want you to know that the pussies writing about how you are desecrating the citizens of Boston and committing some kind of moral / aesthetic offense by daring to post an impromptu poem about the not yet dead bomber are the worst kind of hypocrites and will be sent a.s.a.p. to Dante’s most secret circle in the Inferno: the one where they have to listen to How Much Is That Doggie in the Window forever. They hate the fact that people love you and don’t love them. I know it hurts your feelings to read such spiteful dreck, but remember: at least you have feelings. They don’t; they pretend to have feelings and they don’t know the difference.

    I am an old fart (73 next month) but I think you’re cool. Only writing b/c you might think you only have the kids on your side.

  • Dan

    thank you, Amanda. We need to be openly having conversations about this.

  • Shalala

    Just thought I’d weigh in on the discussion of nature vs nuture. A while ago I saw this video and it made me think about what drives people to commit acts of violence. A really great video and I think it’s very relevant to this, nearly anyone can be driven to acts of evil, though it does not excuse said acts.

    Warning, it does contain some pretty horrific pictures. Though the speaker does also give warnings about them.

  • Bree Ervin

    Amanda, I’m a little late to this party, but I agree so strongly that we must have, and express, our empathy with our fellow humans. All of them.

    And yes – examine how we are failing each other that some of us feel violence is the only way out.

    In the midst of this confusing time I took the risk and published my empathy online, out loud.

    You are not alone. We are not alone. Reaching out helps us remember that.

  • Jasmyn J.H. Shaw

    It was this piece of writing that brought me to tears, rather than the poem.

    Slow down, children, meditate on the words and images you have been given before deciding that your thought is fully formed. Your minds and Souls are capable of exponential growth, enlightenment even. If this is So -that we can refrain from immediately raining hellfire on those people who have committed or intend to commit horrific acts- then any human with thoughts of violence is also capable of change.

  • Elegiadiscord

    I am a long time lover of your work, Amanda but I did have a small criticism to make as I read this.

    I understand you use art to help process and deal with situations. I have no problem with this poem. However, I have an issue with the fact that you chose to share it online. I would have thought you had better discretion than to post that poem.

    I know you probably think that art is about COMMUNICATION, SHARING, EXCHANGING IDEAS!!!!1

    It doesn’t have to be. What about a dedicated, solitary musician who spends the day alone, creating and writing a beautiful piece of music. He shares it with no one yet the piece is still a work of art.
    There is art to share and also art to share with yourself, exploring your own mind. This art can be truly free as it will never face judgement from another person.
    I understand that you like to share everything with your fans but we like you for your art. You are a musician and we love your music but sometimes I feel you are now more interested in your online persona and the music is secondary. You have almost stopped being an artist and have become a business person, who gives talks about how to make money.

    I have loved you since I was 13. The Dresden Dolls helped me through tough years of living in a psychiatric hospital, typical teenage woes and everything in between… But I’m becoming disenchanted and it is breaking my heart.
    I think I will be missing my first Amanda palmer concert tomorrow and that destroys me.

    Sometimes I wish you’d take a step back and instead of networking and maintaining an online profile, you just got a journal and kept some of it to yourself.

    • Amanda McAdams

      It is true that art can be art even if it isn’t being shared. But the beautiful thing about AFP is that she shares EVERYTHING. I don’t think she is too concerned with other people’s judgements either. You may see Amanda’s online persona as excessive, something that is taking her away from her art, but some of us fell in love with Amanda the person, even before we knew anything about her music. I love her because she is such a pure, loving, unbelievably courageous human being. Her impulse to connect with people and share everything is what inspires me the most. If she kept it to herself, she wouldn’t be AFP. I eat up anything she spits out because she is such a huge inspiration to live everyday with as much honesty and compassion as I possibly can. So I say, the more Amanda, the better.

  • Carla

    I am new to you and your music, but have kind of jumped in with both feet (as much as I can with the limited time available right now), reading some of your blog and your letter to Sinead after the Miley debacle. I’m glad I read the poem before reading your explanation because I got to experience the beauty and flow of it without wondering if I understood it a certain way because your explanation had tinted my view. It made perfect sense to me. That said, this explanation is profound and wise and I wish I’d known more about you when this was all going on. You captured thoughts I couldn’t find a way to articulate at the time. You’re talents are a gift to us all!

  • Glenn C. Koenig

    I started making T-shirts that have the words “I don’t blame you.” printed on the front. I started this about a year and a half ago. I have them at That’s my art, or one bit of it. It’s not much (I’ve sold less than 20 so far), but I want people to wear it, and others to read it, and actually stop and think about it, rather than just nod or laugh and then walk on.

  • LizM

    Not too familiar with your work. Stumbled on your poem and this post. Read it, and loved it. Just wanted you to know.

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