September 11, 2001
Poems in the shadow of the terror attacks
The original September 11, 2001 poem was written to be read to the congregation at St John's Church, West Ealing, London on the Sunday following the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The day after, prompted by a remark from a friend who had read it to a Sikh family, I made a shorter version comprising just the last two sections, to be more accessible to people outside the church. I emailed it to some friends and it circulated from there.
The complete version appeared in Third Way in November 2001 and the poem has been published widely in whole or in part on the Web. A short passage from the closing section was incorporated into the Archbishop of Canterbury's talk at the memorial service for British victims in Westminster Abbey.
The poem was called "September 11, 2001" from the beginning but has been published under various titles including the opening line "What kind of story is this?".
An updated version for the tenth anniversary was read at St John's on September 11, 2011.