This Land Is Your Land
In the squares of the city--in the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office--I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.
America's poets have a minimal presence in American civic discourse and a minuscule public role in the life of American democracy. I find this condition perplexing and troubling--both for poetry and for democracy. Because when I look at American poetry from the perspective of a fellow traveler, I see an art invested in various complex, fascinating, historical, and sometimes shop-worn literary debates. I see a twenty-first-century enterprise that's thriving in the off-the-beaten-track corners of the nation's cities and college towns. But at the same time that poetry's various coteries are consumed with art-affirming debates over poetics and styles, American poetry and America's poets remain amazingly inconsequential to the rest of the nation's civic, democratic, political, and public life.
This divide between poet and civic life is bad for American poetry and bad for America, too. Decade after decade, poetry slips into its fifteen-hundred-copy-print-run oblivion and scattered identities on the Internet, and we hear not one chirrup about it from the leading thinkers or writers who have access to a dialogue with the greater public. The culture-consuming audience that should provide poetry's best readers has scarcely noticed its diminishment. Or if they have noticed, they have also come to feel excluded, unconcerned, and dismissive because they believe that American poetry has become so esoteric that figuring out the differences among the warring poets and styles is wholly unnecessary for leading a culturally rich or civically engaged American life. (read the rest here or here.)
I found this a very interesting article and I hope that we can discuss it here. I think this is a valid question although, in my case, political poetry leads to bad poetry. I have been so angry about politics and when I am angry, I write very bad poetry. I keep trying to get past so much anger toward a simmering that might be productive and then some idiot congresscritter says something else that is so inhuman that I lose my mind again.
I do think that political poetry has been/is very important to any culture and ours, since we seem to have so little culture left, needs something to enlighten.