By Matilda Arvidsson
Louise Glück’s poetry collection “The Wild Iris” arrived to me from a used books shop, dedicated “To Ruthy, with love from Mom, on your 43rd birthday”. When I order used books the traces of their prior lives are often as interesting as are their original texts. I’ve always wondered about Ruthie and her mother – about the ways in which love sometimes find new paths, gets misplaced and end up where it might be much needed. The collection of poems in “The Wild Iris” is written at times in the author’s voice – a depressant, a women, a subject whose anger with God is apparent – but equally often in the voice of flowers: the wild iris, the scilla, the un-named plant of the garden. The flower and plants go on to quarrel with God, to cast blame on their gardeners, to address the human who do not know how to listen, to see, or to understand the world. In the poem “The Wild Iris”, I am told: “At the end of my suffering/ there was a door. / Hear me out: that which you call death/ I remember.”, letting me know that I can only see and know so little, and my perspective is that of a mortal who “do not remember/ from the other world./ I tell you I could speak again: whatever/ returns from oblivion returns/ to find a voice. (excerpt from “The Wild Iris”, by Louise Glück). As part of my research concerns the intersection of human and non-human aspects in AI-infused decision-making (in IHL and beyond), the voice in poem the Wild Iris addresses me: there is something to be heard, seen, experienced that I lack access to unless I step out of myself, my body, my voice, and take on the perspective of that which is unknown and unheard. While I am certainly not pretending to be a flower, the exercise of assuming a voice and writing from a perspective outside of my own, outside of my comfort zone, and about relations which may at times be inaccessible to the narratives I am familiar with, has been inspiring and helpful to my research.