“I don’t understand art for art’s sake. Art is the guts of the people.”
A Reader’s Lament
Good poets write about themselves in the context of what’s going on around them. Good poets are historians, anthropologists and activists. Good poets remind us who we are. They are our collective unconscious outwardly celebrating and challenging our collective psyche.
That’s how I see poets. This is how I see artists in general. And for some time, I have felt many of our aspiring writers and poets have chucked duty and instead gone off on holiday to write their memoirs before they’ve actually completed a body of work that merits subjecting us to the minutia of their vacations. I’m worn out by the interior examinations that impress me to be little more than intellectual word play. I don’t want to read about idyllic fields, beautiful babies or clever poetry chock full of figurative language that confronts nothing, internal dialog that doesn’t engage the reader but demands a captive audience. Good literature provokes and challenges; it changes us.
I’m desperate for someone to talk about how no one is excited about another meal of Hamburger Helper and everyone is craving a steak. I want somebody to talk about losing her research job and her husband getting let go from Circuit City. I want to hear someone admit that self-imposed poverty of attending college is no longer an option. Somebody say they’re pissed off because they think we haven’t expressed real outrage about kids being blown up in the Gaza. I want someone to write about Africans having their fingers cut off for stealing diamonds because they are hungry. Someone advocate for the girls being sold into sex trade. Somebody shake us out of the feel good green stupor that has folks thinking changing light bulbs and sorting our trash is going to save us from global warming.
But I’m more reader than writer. I’ve been wary of being the critic. After all, I’m not writing anything noteworthy. But writers need, want an audience, right? So do I have a responsibility as reader to be honest?
* Every week January asks us to fess up. To join us or to read more go here.