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Poets on poetry's role in the political landscape.

Brian Turner

The domain of poetry extends to the horizon-line of our experience. So, I don't see the political as being something which exists outside of poetry's compass. That said, I do appreciate those poets who focus on the political in their work.

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Tony Hoagland

One question is how current events can be rendered in a way to elicit their mythical resonance; Moralizing, self- congratulations, righteousness, and conferred superiority is a common and terrible misstep for political poetry. of course.

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Li-Young Lee

Upon first reading your question, I was sure I knew what you meant by "the political". Yet, as I attempted the beginnings of an answer, I was disturbed to find that the referent was actually quite vague to me, elusive to the point of my having to re-formulate your question variously in order to fix the target, but only to discover that each re-casting of the query left the subject just as indefinite. I found myself asking, for instance, and keeping in mind dictionary parameters of "political": Do you value the examination of governmental affairs in poetry?

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Brenda Cárdenas

My first instinct is to define the political fairly broadly, not only as policy and legislation (or the "demands" that the Occupy Movement so wisely refused to present), but also as systemic factors—socio-economic, cultural, ideological, epistemological, etc.—that leverage so much power over our lives, including our access to knowledge, movement, physical and mental health, civil liberties, the tools of social justice, and the ability/freedom to form sustainable communities.

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William Archila

The fact that I'm able to think deeply and extensively about my experiences and that of others in poetry is itself something I value. I value the examination of anything men and women struggle against in this world. Human experience will always wrestle with the political and it seems to me one can't live without the other.

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Cara Benson

I do not mean to deny anyone the right to write about or from or of anything let alone flowers or beauty or death as an existential experience if not its political use as an adjudicated punishment. Or to situate the aesthetic.

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Richard Blanco

Honestly, I think I've shied away the political in poetry, both in my own work and others. Ironically, this stems from having been raised in a such a politically charged community, namely, the Cuban exile community in Miami since the early 1970s.

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Meghan O'Rourke

I think that artistic gifts vary, and so every artist's responsibility is different. But all of us bear the responsibility of looking clearly at the world we live in. We have to bat away convenient truths in order to see past them to the hard realities.

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Ilya Kaminsky

I write about life and death. Some people call that politics. Other people call that life and death. I don't know why in USA we need to ask each other these questions. Writers in Russia or South Africa or Poland or China don't, since answer seems self-explanatory.

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