In the mid-1990s, when I was a student of creative writing, there prevailed a quiet but firm admonition to avoid composing political poems. It was too dangerous an undertaking, one likely to result in didacticism and slackened craft. No, in American poetry, politics was the domain of the few and the fearless, poets like Adrienne Rich or Denise Levertov, whose outsize conscience justified such risky behavior. Even so, theirs weren’t the voices being discussed in workshops and craft seminars.
After alot of back and forth last week I finally made the firm decision to vote for Barack Obama for president of the United States. This was not an easy decision for me as I am 45 years old and have never in my life voted for a major party candidate for president. Why did I make this decision? Basically, it comes down to three factors:race, culture and a series of conversations that I had with my daughter who is incollege and expressing her political opinions quite passionately andarticulately. A little over a year agoshe sent me a link to a clip of Barack Obama, asking me what I thought. Here is the unedited response I gave to herat the time:
When England was "christianized" they rejected the Anglo-Saxon epic poetry that had been all the rage because it was "heroic" and heroic is antithetical to the Christian theology. How, then, did America, founded by the errant Protestant Christians, become a land of Pick-Yourself-Up-By-The-Bootstraps individualism and heroism?