Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nitrous oxide and politics

I've been reading Kate Camp's manuscript and fuck has it what!
Direct injection overload!
And I wrote something today, that for the first time in ages was actually fun and seemed to have potential, but when I think about it (which I'm trying not to do) nothing has really changed. I had cereal and milk for breakfast instead of my usual toast, but how could that affect it? The writing is the same, the ideas are the same, the only difference being a bit of fuel additive in the tank. Nitrous oxide? Orange juice? Camp smoke?

Jay Parini in his essay The Politics of Poetry doesn't argue anything except that poets have always been political, most subvertly, some overtly and to ignore that in your own work (at least deliberately) is to risk becoming irrelevant.
What is politics? Putting yourself on the left or the right? The top or the bottom? Is it just caring about shit outside of your own small life? I'm not sure I've ever understood that. It seems there are people who are definitely political - join the party, have bumper stickers, signs on the front lawn - and then there are the people who focus on the small things - the unfairly imprisoned, the near-extinct bird - these people could be from any party and are likely to be from none, I guess they acknowledge what is right is never clear or simple. That is the kind of politics I like, but I don't like it being called politics which always seems to be about bigger overriding (broad stroked?) themes. Surely a poets' politics it's just the stuff of the world? Morality?
And on the topic of whether poetry ever made a difference, I don't think it has in the same way that a journalist never stopped a war. But poets can highlight things, explain things, use the politics of language as a tool. It doesn't change anything in the real world except highlight something that wasn't highlighted before. And that is one definition of a good poem I think.

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