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libramoon Profile
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Is poetry dead?


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2013/01/22/is-poetry-dead/

Is poetry dead?
Posted by Alexandra Petri on January 22, 2013


http://coldfrontmag.com/news/open-letter-to-alexandra-petri?goback=%2Egde_1651527_member_208175181

Open Letter to Alexandra Petri
Published on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Jan/29/2013, 12:26 am Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Is poetry dead?


Interesting. I'll dispatch with the Deming 'open letter' first. I must assume the writer is both young and uncertain of himself, unsure of why he devotes himself to poetry, and so feels the need to rather shrilly defend it. My sense is this and quite simple. You can no more defend poetry than you can explain why you love someone. Or how some patch of ground, sea, and sky connects you to the universe. Or that your instinct expressed in religious awe stands outside, anterior to, rational explanation. I'll go a step further and say that, in both fact and deed, poetry does not even want to be defended. It is at least as old, might be older in the evolutionary time table, as the human race. In a sense it stands out of time, is ahistorical. And its only concern is with itself. Poetry is its own reason for being. It answers to no one. To no state, no ideology, no religion.

As for the Petri blog/article again I assume the author is young. I bet she thinks she is being original, or, if not that, timely. I'm heading into my 7th decade, my 6th of chasing after poetry in a pretty devotional way. I've heard this !@#$ for as long as I've been chasing down poetry's roebuck. Poetry is useless. Poetry doesn't matter. Poetry effects no change. Experience brings me to a radically different estimation. I have heard a poem of mine read aloud by a stranger in a bar and read with certain understanding he himself was understood. I've had a poem broadcasted by a young man from bar to bar as if it spoke for his own soul. I've had a poem cause a gallery of women forget themselves, groan and gasp at the reading. I've had a poem make a war vet tremble. More than a few times a poem of mine has caused a shiver in my reader. More than a few times women have fallen in love with me for my poetry even though they could not abide by me personally.

So I have to disagree with Petri's thesis. Poetry impacts. It impacts in a way you cannot account for, can neither quantify, economically, or qualify, statistically.

I don't know if poetry effects change. I do know it impacts.

Tere
Feb/10/2013, 1:38 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Is poetry dead?


Two anecdotes, stories I tell sometimes that are to the point.

Paul Blackburn was in Spain, Malaga I think. This was in the fifties. He was there on a grant to translate Spanish and 12th C French troubador poetry into English. Ezra Pound had suggested the project to him. One early morning he is standing out on his balcony. He hears a street sweeper reciting poetry while working his way with his broom down the street. Blackburn recognizes the poetry. It is Lorca's. Poetry that has found resonance in a peasant's soul.

There is this scene in the movie about a young Che Guevara who, right out of medical school and with a friend, makes a motorcycle trip up the length of the South American continent. Motorcycle breaks down. The pair are given a ride on a dirt road by a laborer driving an old beat up truck. Guevara recites lines of poetry. His friend asks if the lines belong to Lorca. The laborer answers for Guevara, says they belong to Neruda.

Two of the greatest 20th C poets working in Spanish known by heart to two different peasant types on two different continents.

Again this is what I know. Poetry cannot compete with the intellectual disciplines nor with the sciences. It does not serve a useful purpose. But it can go places no other discipline can, down streets and dirt roads to home.

Tere
Feb/10/2013, 1:17 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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