our need for poetry
I have often pondered how the arts, including poetry, seem to have little value in our free market driven world. The Arts departments of universities seem to be shrinking, yielding to the pressure from business groups to produce students educated to be skilled 'technocrats'. Business and applied science programs are expanding as fast as the funding allows. To me, something seems to be missing. while multinational corporations seem to grabbing up all of the market share, exploiting more and more of all the world's resources, and exerting nearly total control over law and politics, true visionary leadership and values that would be for the greater good are sacrificed for profit, to fatten the value for stock holders.
In the face of all that, poetry is not a profitable and marketable product. In fact, poetry has been accused of being ineffective and useless in the dealing with so much of the misery and corruption in this world. Often, it has been a part of the problem, a part of the collective psyche of a disturbed culture.
Adrienne Rich argues that "yet in fact, throughout the world, transfusions of poetic language can and do quite literally keep bodies and souls together - and more", that "we can also define the 'aesthetic', not as a privileged and sequestered rendering of human suffering, but as news of an awareness, a resistance, which totalising systems want to quell: art reaching into us for what's still passionate, still unintimidated, still unquenched."
Perhaps, exactly because it is not marketable, perceived as "soft" and volatile, poetry, as much of the other arts, will continue to be a thorn in the side of those totalising systems, the anarchy that will serve to balance the current regimes of power, keep them in check, and more importantly, keep us sane.