“Twenty Little Poems that Could Save America”
April 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
In honor of National Poetry Month …
Writing in Harpers Magazine, Tony Hoagland argues that the pathway for restoring poetry to American discourse begins at the classroom door, accompanied by a willingness to part with the “old chestnuts” — oft-anthologized mainstays like “The Road Not Taken.”
But largely, c’mon — you and I both know — real live American poetry is absent from our public schools. The teaching of poetry languishes, and that region of youthful neurological terrain capable of being ignited and aria’d only by poetry is largely dark, unpopulated, and silent, like a classroom whose door is unopened, whose shades are drawn.
This is more than a shame, for poetry is our common treasure-house, and we need its aliveness, its respect for the subconscious, its willingness to entertain ambiguity; we need its plaintive truth-telling about the human condition and its imaginative exhibitions of linguistic freedom, which confront the general culture’s more grotesque manipulations. We need the emotional training sessions poetry conducts us through. We need its previews of coming attractions: heartbreak, survival, failure, endurance, understanding, more heartbreak.