I found courage on Friday when I read Juan Vidal’s “Where Have All the Poets Gone?” through a link from NPR. Having sent off my own essay, “Poetry Called Present”, for consideration by The Press Enterprise and not knowing for sure if they were going to publish it, I felt affirmed by Vidal’s passionate questioning about the causes of the dearth of political poetry in America today.
I argue newspapers should be the “the viable mainstream presence” that Vidal says poetry lacks today. In addition to the example of The Los Angles Times‘ “opinionated poems” that I cited in my essay, I think the Washington Post‘s publication of Jabari Asim’s “‘The Talk,’ a poem inspired by Ferguson, Mo” shows the potential of regular inclusion of current-events poems by newspapers.
The number of questions in Vidal’s essay reminded me of Warren Berger’s “Chasing Beautiful Questions” in the April 2014 edition of Spirit. Berger says, “To question well and productively requires stepping back from habits, assumptions, and familiar thoughts; listening to and closely observing the world around you; being unafraid to ask naive or fundamental questions and being willing to stay with the questions as you endeavor to understand and act on them.”
I’m going to continue to question: How might I encourage poets to write more current-events poems and more news mediums to include them?