Where Poetry and Politics Meet

Is there a line

between poetry and politics,

The personal and the political?


If there is,

Who draws it?

If there are rules,

Who makes them?


My father told me Rock and Roll was not music.

He liked Frank Sinatra.

I don’t.

I like Bing Crosby and the Rolling Stones.


The guardians of political correctness

use labels to intimidate.

They shut down creativity

and block collaboration.


Who’s more oppressed,

Blacks or Jews?

While we debate the question,

the folks who hate us laugh.


What we like is a matter of taste.

And politics.

We don’t have to agree.

and our disagreements can be heated.


But to say what I write

is not poetry

Serves only the status quo,

Politically, poetically and otherwise.


February, 2019

North American Time

Thank you for the positive responses to my “best minds” poem. Bill Zavatsky the leader of the workshop I was taking, dismissed it as political rhetoric not poetry. These two wonderful poems by Adrienne Rich more than answer Mr. Zavatsky.

North American Time
When my dreams showed signs
of becoming
politically correct
no unruly images
escaping beyond borders
when walking in the street I found my
themes cut out for me
knew what I would not report
for fear of enemies’ usage
then I began to wonder
Everything we write
will be used against us
or against those we love.
These are the terms,
take them or leave them.
Poetry never stood a chance
of standing outside history.
One line typed twenty years ago
can be blazed on a wall in spraypaint
to glorify art as detachment
or torture of those we
did not love but also
did not want to kill.
We move but our words stand
become responsible
for more than we intended
and this is verbal privilege

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