Accessible poetry? Part 2.

Here's poetry-advocate Garrison Keillor:

America is in hard times these days, the beloved country awash to the scuppers in expensive trash, gripped by persistent jitters, politics even more divorced from reality than usual, the levers of power firmly in the hands of a cadre of Christian pirates and bullies whose cynicsim is stunning, especially their perversion of the gospel of the Lord to blast the poor and the meek and subvert the tax system in favor of the rich, while public institutions are put into perpetual fiscal crisis, meanwhile newspapers dwindle in sad decline, journalism is lost in the whirlwind of amusement, and the hairy hand of the censor reaches out — what mustn't be lost, in the dank time, is the passion of young people for truth and justice and liberty — the spirit that has kept the American porch light lit through dark ages of history — and when this spirt is betrayed by the timid and the greedy and the naive, then we must depend on the poets. American poetry is the truest journalism we have. What your life can be, lived bravely and independently, you can discover in poetry.

People complain about the obscurity of poetry, especially if they're assigned to write about it, but actually poetry is rather straightforward compared to ordinary conversation with people you don't know well which tends to be jumpy repartee, crooked, coded, allusive to no effect, firmly repressed, locked up in irony, steadfastly refusing to share genuine experience — think of conversation at office parties or conversation between teenage children and parents, or between teenagers themselves, or between men, or between bitter spouses: rarely in ordinary conversation do people speak from the heart and mean what they say. How often in the  past week did anyone offer you something from the heart? It's there in poetry. Forget everything you ever read about poetry, it doesn't matter — poetry is the last preserve of honest speech and the outspoken heart. All that I wrote about it as a grad student I hereby recant and abjure — all that matters about poetry to me now is directness and clarity and truthfulness.

from Good Poems for Hard Times (emphasis mine)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s