By Jon Wiederhorn
(Gary Miller, FilmMagic)
Controversial Boston-based solo performer Amanda Palmer (formerly with the Dresden Dolls) has provoked a wave of both support and protest for "A Poem for Dzhokhar,” a post she wrote on her official website. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is one of two terrorists accused of committing the bombings at the Boston marathon that left three dead and over 170 injured (his brother Tamerlin was killed Friday in a shootout with police).
Palmer’s poem is composed of vaguely related sentences all of which begin with the words "You don’t know." Some of the lines are general and could relate to anyone; others are more specific to Tsarnaev’s acts and possible thoughts, such as, "You don’t know why you let that guy go without shooting him dead and stuffing him in some bushes between Cambridge and Watertown," and weird almost nonsensical phrases, including, “You don’t know how precious your iPhone battery time was until you’re hiding in the bottom of the boat."
Other notable lines: "You don’t know how to make sense of this massive parade"; "You don’t know why people run their goddamn knees into the ground anyway"; "You don’t know how you walked into this trap so obliviously"; and "You don’t know how to mourn your dead brother."
Some readers have reacted to "A Poem for Dzhokhar" with anger: "[I’m] Shocked at your level of detachment from the heinous crimes of this terrorist and his brother," wrote Jenn Poniatowski on Palmer’s Facebook page. "You've got the right to write it, certainly. But sad that this was your choice of expression. God, he left a f---ing bomb at the feet of an eight year old child!"
"F--- you, Amanda. I've been a fan since the early days but this is ridiculous," commented Betty Stronach on Palmer’s Facebook. "When I was 19 I was an outsider, ridiculed for being a geek and for my sexuality. You know what I didn't ever contemplate doing? Dropping a nailbomb in a crowd with a child less than five feet away. Again, f--- you. The world just got a tiny bit stupider."
Others leapt to Palmer’s defense. "It happened to her home town -- it's practically her job to write stuff like this, for better or worse," wrote Michael De Smurführer Thomsen. "If you don't want your artists to deal with real s---, then there are plenty of writers out there writing fluffy novels about unicorns and dragons."
"Thank you for offering a humane view of the accused," wrote Catherine Baker. "Your words are sad and beautiful. I hope that our government will offer the same to society, by holding to the process of constitutional and civil law."
In a series of tweets, Palmer wrote that she’s surprised by the anger and animosity some have directed at her in the last 24 hours. "It wasn't aimed to upset anyone. it's very sad to me that it did ... now that everybody's panties are in a twist, I’d like to say: the poem is actually about more than you think it is. read it again ... If poetry is not a way to deal with things, i want out of this f---ing joint for good man."