Tuesday, November 28, 2006

our need for poetry

Wandering about in a journey through various links that started at the blog Autumn Cottage Diarist, by Roz Cawley, I stumbled upon this article by Adrienne Rich in the Guardian, in which she argues that in these dark times, we need poetry more than ever.

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kati. I like your site. It is not true that one can't get paid or have poetry that makes an impact. I have seen it in my own work and gotten paid for it.

kind regards

Man of issaquah


3:06 a.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

ah, I wasn't very clear. I don't think there are many very rich artists (the hollywood/marketing machine isn't exactly what I'm thinking of).

by being small, diverse,individualistic,and often iconoclastic, artists will usually not be a product like automobiles or McDonalds that investors will want to promote worldwide.although artists & poets may very well make a living through their art, I would venture to guess that most artists will always stimulate/entertain/provoke only a small community of people who might be exposed to their art, and be truly appreciated by those few who are actually open to the arts.

in my experience, most people are so busy making a living that they much more vulnerable to what they are "told" through massive advertizing and marketing campaigns that they need or want, and so bombarded by all that, that they have little time to think of what their hearts are telling them.

people will buy the 'best sellers' and enjoy some very fine artists that way. but most people miss the multitude of artists out there who have their own little fragment of truth to offer, who perhaps have not yet perfected their art to the level where investors might be interested, or who just do not have the time or the inclination to seek out avenues to market themselves.

my point is that art is being produced all the time by all sorts of "little" people -- it's a natural human urge -- and it will never be successfully co-opted completely into a universal/global homogeneous market.

12:51 p.m.  

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