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05/17/2010

Comments

Kevin

I agree with your points. Imagine, Chomsky doing an institutional analysis in Alexandrine verse. Regards, Kevin

Cynthia Haven

One obvious answer is: Robert Hass. Read his essays. I attended a reading he gave a few years back and nearly all the questions afterwards had to do with education and his environmental work. His work on those issues has been notable.

You have some good points to make, but you are too dismissive of others. Robert Bly's public stances undoubtedly increased interest in his poetry, as I think they have for Hass as well.

Before dismissing Dana Gioia as a "political shill," perhaps you should read some of his essays. "Can Poetry Matter?" caused more mail to flood into the "Atlantic Monthly"'s mailbox than any previous article they had published.

And, of course, some poets (Hass among them) respond to matters in the public sphere through their poetry. Czeslaw Milosz wrote a poem on Sarajevo that he wasn't very pleased with. Before publication in the New York Review of Books (or was it the New York Times?), he remarked to a friend: "Sometimes it is better to be a little ashamed rather than silent."

Jacob Russell

If Wendell Berry has not been taken seriously beyond his "devoted readers who already agree with him," is that reason to dismiss his ideas--an American message of terroir, agricultural sustainability, the damage both environmental and political inflicted by corporate factory farming? How much more relevant can you get?

The same charge might be made of Chomsky--though his devoted followers are politically active, they are ignored precisely to the degree that the message doesn't fit the narrow range covered in the mainstream media. Dismissing Berry for not being heard amounts to saying that the only way to be relevant is to support the status quo!

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