Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Poet and Politics

Last night at Poetry Group, Roxanne shared a segment from an article that appeared in the New York Times Magazine on August 14. In it, the author suggests Congress might do well to read a little (or even write a little) poetry. Here are some highlights:
"I'm not suggesting that poetry will guide our legislators to wisdom any more than prayer has. Just that it might make them a little more human."
"The poet Shelley, in a rather highfalutin defense of poetry nearly two centuries ago, wrote, "A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own." Shelley concludes that essay by calling poets "the unacknowledged legislators of the world," because they bring imagination to the realm of "reasoners and mechanists."
"The relevance of poetry was declared more succinctly in five lines from the love poem "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower," by William Carlos Williams:
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

A response to the author from David Orr, poetry columnist for the NYT book review, on prescribing poems that if closely read and considered might be of value to our ossified Congress:
"If our respresentatives have spent the last few months huffily asserting, our poets have spent the past century hesitantly questioning -- and the latter approach seems far more useful to the country at the moment."
Several poems David Orr offered can be found at

Here is my own political 'Haiku' series:

Political Haiku (or, a contradiction in terms)

Election Day nears
Handsome candidates spinning
Myopic daydreams

TV timeshares climb
Force campaign funding higher
Backing their 'yes' man

Wake up world and know
In spending our dollars lies
The true power vote

I hope you'll write some political poems of your own...


  1. This way lies freedom
    The candidate cries
    While counting his PAC money.

    Thanks for the invitation.

    Jacqui Bishop

  2. When soldiers die in battle
    And are laid to rest in time
    We call upon the poets
    To pay homage with their rhyme

    I wonder if before the fray
    And carnage is engaged
    We call upon the poets
    And the soldiers rested rage

    No stirring battle hymns to rouse
    No cries for hate avenged
    We call upon the poets
    To speak of love’s revenge

    I wonder if the politicians
    Who send them off to die
    Call upon the poets
    To speak of life and why

    I don’t know if the laureates
    Would be able to reply
    We should call upon the poets
    And listen to them try…

    A wonderful blog thought here…I don’t know if poetry is the answer…but I’d certainly give the few poets I know the chance to try.