Committed poetry, again

Some thoughts about committed/activist art here.  On the three paths vis à vis activism open to all of us. Still wobbly on this issue, per this post from last August. Seems that most hanging out in the poetry blogosphere have gone with option three. True or false. Good thing or bad thing.

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Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

5 thoughts on “Committed poetry, again”

  1. Such a bummer that the comment thread couldn’t be ported to WordPress. I don’t have the time to go back over what I said back then, at least not at the moment.

    Why three paths? Why limit oneself? Why give up on the challenge of making politics meet art and work together? Orwell did it, in two great and much-studied books. Eliot did it — what else is The Waste Land if not committed poetry? Ash Wednesday? Pound did it. Tennyson did it. All of Latin America’s magical realism is committed writing, especially the early stuff, the stuff encoded magically so it could speak about the oppression of those societies. Achebe’s work is committed. Soyinka’s work is committed. Despite himself, I would argue that Vidia Naipaul’s work is committed. If something means enough to a writer, or resonates deep enough, then it will come out in what’s written.

    The problem? The conscious mind is what makes the exercise cheesy/preachy, by trying to Insert Message, not the engagement itself.

    Too lazy to make links above. Trust me.

  2. You’re such a dose of salts. Think you’ve said it. It’s that existentialist thing, being engage (sorry, don’t know how to do an acute accent in html). You can’t just turn around and say, hm, I think I’ll be engage today. You have to just *be* it, and if you really are, there’s no need to announce it – your work will, despite you. Showing vs telling, heh.

    But still back to the original observation – is there engagement in the poetry blogosphere today? Looking again, here.

  3. Just for starters, 20th century Eastern European poetry is filled with committed poets as is Latin American. So is Middle and Far Eastern poetry, too, come to think of it. Just a few important names: Pablo Neruda, Tadeusz Rozewicz, Zbigniew Herbert, Sandor Csoori, Marin Sorescu, Nijole Miliauskaite, Vitautas Bloze, Gyorgy Petri, Nazim Hiket, Mahmoud Darwish, Yehudi Amichai, Christopher Okigbo, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Taslima Nasrim, Chairil Anwar, Nguyen Chi Thien, Kamau Braithwaite, Maria Elena Cruz Varela, and this doesn’t even scratch the surface.

  4. Sorry – my bad syntax and my tunnel vision — by the “poetry blogosphere”, I meant contemporary poetry bloggers (who are generally poets or at least aspring ones). But thanks for the list of names — way too many are unfamiliar to me, but most seem to be from the “developing” world, which bears out my theory in this August 28 follow-up post on the same topic.

    1. In Tunisia,there emerges a new trend of committed poets with anew inspiration. they got inspired by the tunisian revolution and the ongoing
      uprisings in the arab world .

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