(by William Logan)
It’s a fair question. Kind of like me asking–On-line gaming: Who needs it? (My son is gasping)
Or Curling: What’s the brouhaha? (Husband’s turn to snarl)
But, we’re talking about the arts and the arts always induce a pinched suck-in-your-cheeks sour mouth gawk.
I read the article relishing that most of The NY Times readers would gloss over the post wearing their finest Sour Worm face. I always enjoy a good poetry article for that look alone. Imagining the multitudes of twisted lips.
I scanned the article and two statements popped out at me.
“The idea that poetry must be popular is simply a mistake.”
daring sobering comforting comment. Under the guise of altruism, poets, at times, manufacture a false concept that they should procreate an abundance of verse in efforts to universalize their craft while at the same time embracing or even flaunting their obscurity and “weirdness.”
They fabricate the idea that all the world needs is a daily reading of Pablo Neruda and the earth will heave a collective sigh, clasp multi-cultured politically incorrect hands and sing Kumbayah.
Or, more simply, all we need to do is slip a personal poem in a lovely garden and the sun will shine eternally.
Then when the nightly news reveals increasing Middle East threats and national tergiversations of “phony scandals,” “Al-Qaeda is on the run,” and “not a smidgen of corruption,” we shake our coupletted fists and spew odes of smite and ballads of shame–They just don’t understand. What the world needs now is love love love. A penny for the healing powers of my poetry?
Passion or Pride?
They (we) claim to be a passionate clan but after awhile, don’t the jumbled ramblings of this dichotomy begin to sound like prideful whining?
I think so.
The truth is poets “dig” being a little different than the average bear. And the truth is poetry is not a panacea for the world’s woes.
We can’t make the claim that one poem will heal a world. A poem is not a poem to all. It’s a private experience.
And thus I end this post with the second statement that caught my eye.
“Poetry is what language alone can do.”
For me, this answers the author’s question–Poetry: Who Needs it?
Those who feel language.