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A Thought for National Poetry Month

Who says poetry makes nothing happen, or that it doesn’t matter?

People write poems, therefore poems do matter. And people read poems, and there they learn the most important of lessons: what it means to be human.

To wit–a short passage from an interview with poet Robert Hass:

Q: How can poetry affect the imagination of government?

Hass: There are instances: Thoreau read Wordsworth, Muir read Thoreau, Teddy Roosevelt read Muir, and you got national parks. It took a century for this to happen, for artistic values to percolate down to where honoring the relation of people’s imagination to the land, or beauty, or to wild things, was issued in legislation.

And later:

They are the kinds of things that make us a community: attachment to place, attachment to local arts traditions, the ability to read literature, the ability to look at paintings, the sense of connectedness to the land, the sense of community that comes from people taking care of their own. The market doesn’t make communities. Markets make networks of self-interested individuals, and they work as long as there’s more than enough to go around.


Sometimes it’s difficult to focus on the important stuff in the face of the never-ending maelstrom of the market and commerce and Walmart culture.

Only Connect! said E.M. Forster. Poetry connects.


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This entry was posted on April 15, 2009 by in Complaint, The Write Idea.

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