Last night’s reading at Mac’s was a tide of wonderful poetry. Thanks to all the poets who read and the poetry lovers who made it a party.
Sometimes poetry of witness wakes us up. Sometimes it simply gives voice to the world we already know, with the deep relief of being unmasked: it’s all out there on the table, no matter how painful ugly. Kevin Simmonds’ poem, “a sentence” is that kind of work. It sailed into my inbox recently in the latest newsletter from Spit This Rock. I am so grateful for work like Simmonds’. Scroll down a bit to find the poem here.
On NPR this morning there was a decent piece about arts, the artist, and the economy which referenced an article in Salon’s Art in Crisis, No sympathy for the creative class. It’s good to see this conversation getting some press. Those of you who know me know that I talk a lot about the intersection between a life in the arts and the economy. Some peculiar admixture of romanticism and disdain fuels the increasingly difficult economics of scratching out any sort of right livelihood in the arts in the US. It’s important to have some perspective on this, to understand it is not a universal situation–many cultures revere their cultural arts workers–nor a static one.
The flip side is of course those times and places in the world where art is materially dangerous to its maker. For a window on one such place, check out today’s NY Times Magazine, Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry. In the words of one young Afghani woman:
“I am like a tulip in the desert. I die before I open, and the waves of desert breeze blow my petals away.” – Meena Muska