the locus for
those who have
not been heard
|The great argument: is a poem inherently political? Or does a poem with political intent cease to be poem? become rhetoric? In "The American Dream," language becomes a weapon, a stiletto of meaning to pierce the nonsensical rhetoric of politics, to unmask the cynical grab of advertising. Here, naked but knowing, words demand. Poetry has traditionally been the locus for those who have not been heard to speak, but who's been listening? But what if the poem could be heard, what if the single voice were suddenly powerful, not as a literary conceit,|
|but as an actual tool for building a new society, a tool for a new patriotism? Not as a speaker's corner for the powerless loyal opposition, but as creator and visionary. And if the poem becomes such a tool, wouldn't this obviate its imaginative power, its anti-utilitarian purpose as the site where one can go to to get away from the world's madness? Can we live in a poem? Can a poem change the world? Now comes the redefinition of our nation. Because the poets will not answer the questions, but ask them, and it is us, the readers, who are charged, not with the passivity that TV has seemed to engender, but with a new activism. Welcome to the land where words not only say what they mean, but where the poets mean what they say.||
A recent winner of a Mac Arthur grant, THYLIAS MOSS is a professor at the University of Michigan. Her fast-rising voice literally jumps from the page into a mad dance with the reader. Jumbles and knots are the stuff, but a slicing incisiveness results once the poem kicks in: she reveals the black truths behind the white lies. With her husband and two children she lives in Ann Arbor.
Rancher, truck driver, philosopher and cowboy poet, VESS QUINLAN is one of the few cowboys to actually have done time at writing workshops and is much respected by critics of all stripes. He lives in Alomosa, Colorado, has successfully handed over his ranching operations to his family -- his daughter, Lisa, is also a poet.
Voice of courage, jazz, lifeforce? What's for sale in San Franscisco's Chinatown is not the poetry of GENNY LIM -- her poetry's NFS (Not for Sale). A professor at New College, Genny often performs with music, tours, still finds time to raise her two daughters, be the inspiration of a million poems, and live where art and life collide joyfully and daily.
LUIS ALFARO is a MacArthur genius -- a young gay Chicano loudmouth who writes hilarious performance poems to be shouted while dressed in a cheap short black lace slip at all the gods and people wandering the streets. He has taken his solo act around the country; he grew up around the corner from where his poem, "Orphan of Aztlan," was shot in the Los Angeles barrio.
For many, A Coney Island of the Mind was their introduction to poetry -- for so many that that book is the largest-selling book of poems by a US poet. Its author, LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI, has been a beacon to generations of poets as the founder of City Lights Bookstore and Publishers. He is the Poet Laureate of San Francisco.
Cult rocker, hero to many, perhaps the continent's most successful poet, LEONARD COHEN wrote the songs "Suzanne," and "Bird on a Wire," and novels Beautiful Losers and The Dangerous Game. His poem "Democracy" can be found on his album, The Future.
JIM NORTHRUP writes a syndicated column, "The Fond Du Lac Follies," describing life on and about the Rez of the same name in northern Minnesota where he lives with his wife, Patricia, (who is not a poet!) and their family. They live the traditional life of the Chippewa, including making the most beautiful rice baskets for the wild rice harvest.
Many Seattle children have learned their poetry at EL CENTRO DE LA RAZA, where Director Roy Wilson follows the precepts of Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal. JAVIER PINA's poem was developed in a workshop there led by poet Zoe Angelsey. Pina currently works as a janitor in Seattle.