Sunday, November 23, 2008

Irritation station

I don't know why I keep reading the Harriet blog.  Must be because I'm all out of sharp objects to poke my eyes with.  Here's a little nugget of irritation from their latest post, by Cathy Park Hong:
Lavinia [Greenlaw] asked if the election will inspire more political poetry. I hope so. But I would think that the war, deregulation of corporations, Katrina, the pillaging of the environment, Abu Ghraib, and other corrosive abuses of power within the last eight years would be plenty reason to spur political poetry but has it? At the top of my head, I can think of a few poets whose latest collections have held a tuning fork to the world: Juliana Spahr, Ed Roberson, Claudia Rankine, Rodrigo Toscano, Barbara Jane Reyes, Dennis Nurkse, Matthea Harvey, and Aracelis Girmay. I’m sure there are many others who I’m forgetting…
Guilt-trip much?  Nothing against the poets she mentions, but if writing topical poetry is the only way to "hold a tuning fork to the world", I think I'll find a new hobby.

I think that Keith Olbermann, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are about eight million times more useful as political tuning forks than any poetry you can possibly think of.


  1. I often wonder about the use of political poetry...not that poetry should necessarily have utility like that, per se...but really every time I read a political poem I'm thinking in my head seriously shut up already.

  2. Addendum: I like poetry that is politically conscious without being "political poetry." Does that make sense?