„What Use Is This Poem?”

Poetry Isn’t as Useless as a Lot of Poets Say It Is by 

Poetry is always already revolutionary, then. What it says hardly matters. Poetry is useful because of its useless essence, not because of its individual meaning.

Of course, this is nonsense. When poets or writers have been persecuted, it’s generally not because of some abstract contradiction between tyranny and poetry. It’s because the persecuted poets said specific things the tyrants didn’t want to hear. Anna Akhmatova faced persecution not because she was a poet, but because her poetry was explicitly anti-Stalinist. In contrast, Pound and Mussolini got along swimmingly. Vitor Jara was murdered because he took a stand with Allende, but the British Empire didn’t have a problem with Kipling.  

The point here is that poetry, as poetry, is, in fact, useless. Because poetry, as poetry, is nothing. There is no essential „poetry” that has a meaning and a use absent context, any more than there is an essential „music” that can, or should, lend profundity to the sounds of Miles Davis, Miley Cyrus, and Gonzo eating a rubber tire to „The Flight of the Bumblebee.” Keats and Shelley, perhaps, were interested in exploring an inward-turning lyrical alternative to history. But Dr. Seuss was mostly trying to make folks laugh. Langston Hughes wrote to entertain and to teach; he certainly would never have made a sharp break between history and poetry, since so much of his poetry was focused on how history, and particularly America’s racial history, is intertwined with the self. And then there’s Nicki Minaj with the immortal lines, „All these bitches is my sons. . . . If I had a dick I would pull it out and piss on ‘em.” Poetry doesn’t have to save the world. It can just be a (literal) pissing contest.

 

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Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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