San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego


Words of the Poets

February 12, 2003 [NYT]

To the Editor:

Re "A Song of Themselves" (Op-Ed, Feb. 8):

Leonard Garment's wish that "politicians and artists display mutual restraint" would be better directed at our government than at the many poets who participated in Sam Hamill's poetry project, which would have been presented at the White House if Laura Bush, the first lady, had not vetoed it.

This is not a time for artists to display restraint.

Berkeley, Calif., Feb. 8, 2003

To the Editor:

Re "A Song of Themselves," by Leonard Garment (Op-Ed, Feb. 8):

Poetry is the song of the human soul, and it will cry out -- in joy, in alarm, in celebration, in grief.

It cries out of necessity: it sings from the radical core of the human heart. It cannot be reduced to a pleasant parlor-sized art, and those large souls Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes cannot be diminished.

They are courageous pilgrims, revolutionary spirits, at odds with orthodoxy, in love with truth.

Bless those American poets who are awake at this time and who cry out. Poetry serves life.

New York, Feb. 8, 2003

To the Editor:

The controversy about antiwar poetry (Op-Ed, Feb. 8) brings to mind the words of the poet William Carlos Williams:

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die
miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

What people find in poetry is a deeper, more creative and moral way of looking at the world. True poetry, the very opposite of propaganda and scripted political "spin," inspires mental freedom, courage and clarity.

It's an antidote to the power-hungry, opportunistic ways of thinking and speaking that so often lead to misery, violence, destruction and death. That's why people turned to poetry after Sept. 11. That's why they are turning to it now.

New York, Feb. 10, 2003


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