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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homes for Political Poems

First there was 99 Poems for the 99%, (which I blogged about here, and which is featuring the terrific Troy Jollimore today).

Then there was the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, (which I blogged about here).

Now I've leared about OccuPoetry: Poets Supporting Economic Justice. (Actually I'm not sure of the inception dates of any of these; this is the order in which I discovered them, not necessarily the order in which they came into being). This is a journal inspired by the Occupy Movement and edited by Katy Ryan and Phillip Baron.

OccuPoetry kindly lists other online poetry projects that are responses to the Occupy Movement. They include Occupy Together (videos of poetry readings at the various Occupy Movement locations).

I saw this kind of poetic response immediately after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, earlier this year. Suddenly all over the internet there were anthologies seeking relevant work from writers in order to make books, the sales of which would go to benefit charities. As touched as I was by the drive of writers to use their gifts to help the victims, I couldn't help being a tiny bit cynical about the opportunities writers were getting to be published due to a disaster. Which is completely unfair of me....I wouldn't feel that way about an visual artist auctioning off works and donating the proceeds to charity; I don't criticize bands that give concerts for charity. But I couldn't help wishing there was a way to publish without receiving anything from it as an individual...which I know is not a valid concern (and not even effective for marketing and thus bringing in the cash for the donation; I mean, nobody would buy a book of poems by all anonymous authors, would they?) and I have mostly turned my head around on this point, but it still nags at me a tiny bit.

As though I should be judging anyone's motives; shame on me. This is really my own hangup as a chance to be published popped up in my mind when I saw these opportunities, and I hated that about myself. But I did feel that when a famous person gives a poem to an anthology for charity, that's real charity. When an unknown like myself does the same thing, there could be as much self-interest as charity in the gesture. And I feel kind of evil for even pointing this out, when probably most people were giving entirely out of goodness. Or mostly out of goodness. Or even equally out of goodness and self-interest. And really, it doesn't concern me at all in any case but my own, now does it?

On the other hand, in the Occupy Movement, in which the people are asking to have their voices heard, poetry is another venue for having your voice, the voice of the people, heard, in language that can be more memorable, more vivid, and more ceremonial than regular speech. This I feel more comfortable with, but should I? Is there a difference?

And really, why don't I just assume the best of other people and not think these things at all?

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