Amanda Palmer Infuriates the Internet Again

This time, it's with a poem to suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

On Sunday, musician/Internet-fundraising sensation/Lexington native Amanda Palmer chose to write what she must have imagined to be a moving piece for her blog. It’s called “A Poem for Dzhokhar.” Deep breath.

There’s already been a lot written about the Boston Marathon bombings and the shoot-out/man-hunt/lockdown, as well as the effect on Boston’s psyche and how the city has pulled together in the face of terror. It’s extremely difficult to write something thoughtful about events that are still unfolding. Some of it has been good, some bad. Palmer chose to write a poem that falls into the latter category. Here’s an excerpt:

you don’t know how it’s possible to feel total compassion in one moment and total disconnection in the next moment.

you don’t know how things could change so incredibly fast.

you don’t know how to make something, but the instructions are on the internet.

you don’t know how to make sense of this massive parade.

you don’t know how to believe anyone anymore.

you don’t know how to tell the girl in the chair next to you that you’ve been peeking at her dissertation draft and there’s a grammatical typo in the actual file name.

you don’t know how to explain yourself.


There’s a lively discussion, naturally, in the blog’s comments section, which has around 800 comments on the poem’s merits. (And to be fair, Palmer did post a link at the bottom of the poem to One Fund Boston, the nonprofit that is raising funds for the bombing’s victims.) Other critics have jumped in, ripping on not just the writing, but on her terrible timing. Here’s Gawker’s Max Read, for example:

 “A Poem for Dzhokhar” is not, really, “for” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old college kid who, along with his older brother, allegedly detonated a bomb at the Boston Marathon last week. It’s for Palmera deluded and opportunistic narcissist who sells rhetorical snake oil to people too full of unearned self-regard to join an actual cult.

The question: Why are we so surprised? Palmer is a pro at pleasing the Internet and enraging it. This is really no different than what we’ve come to expect. As she told SPIN last year: “I hate being ignored.”