Can we think about the place of poetry in our world? After listening to (watching, also) Tony Walsh share his stunning occasional poem “This is The Place,” I do wonder what people think about the importance of poetry (an occasional poem is written for an occasion). Not that many hours after the tragic bombing outside the Manchester Arena, poet Walsh recited a poem that gripped me with its significance and intensity. Listen here if you have not yet had the opportunity.
Notice how his rhythm and, yes, rhymes, work to fire up the pride and hometown love of the people of Manchester. The poem takes the power away from the terrorist, away from those who want to harm our civilization, and gives it to the people of Manchester (and in a way to all of us for our hometowns). This is one of the powers of poetry: that it can allow us to assert our own power.
Poetry is power. Poetry is political. Poetry is today, this minute, right now.
But do people understand that? Maybe I’m imagining it. Because I looked at a different youtube clip of the same event and look at the comments from people! They are a mean, small-minded crowd, waiting to be thrown more and more red meat. Wait for it: the coliseums will be built.
Most of the comments on that clip are hideous. They completely miss it all.
But all is not lost. These commenters seem to understand.
What IS the place of poetry in our world?
* If the tone of commenting changes on any of these that will change the story, of course.
My prayers are with Manchester and, in fact, with us all.