Poetry, Storytelling, and Multiple Truths on Israel’s Independence Day

As a historian, I spend a lot of time thinking about stories — what stories we tell about ourselves and the world, what stories aren’t told, how our narratives change depending on context, mood, timing.

We generally think of history and poetry as very distinct fields — one more straightforward, prose-based, rooted in something we call historical fact; the other more creative, subjective, and emotional. But in this postmodern age, we’ve come to understand that  what is “true” about either history or poetry is always up for debate, for there are many truths and many ways to tell our stories.

To my preschool-age kids, “telling stories” means making up something that is not true — a developmentally important stage as they explore and test the boundary between real and imaginary. Grown ups do it, too, of course — and maybe writers and poets most obviously — as we try to understand different perspectives and competing truths.

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