Here's a poetry and politics round-up for a change.
In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Pablo Neruda said
In the midst of the arena of America's struggles I saw that my human task was none other than to join the extensive forces of the organized masses of the people, to join with life and soul, with suffering and hope, but it is only from this great popular stream that the necessary changes can arise for writers and for nations . . . Lastly, I wish to say to the people of good will, to the workers, to the poets, that the whole future has been expressed in this line by Rimbaud: 'Only with a burning patience can we conquer the splendid City, which will give light, justice, and dignity to all.'
Demetria Martinez, an American writer, was imprisoned in the 80s for assisting El Salvadorean people get into the USA. She continues to work on immigrants’ rights issues, with Enlace Comunitario, and feels extremely empowered. by this work. She's also published three books of poetry, a novel and, most recently, a book of essays. In this short interview she talks about self-censorship and racial profiling, among other things.
Sandburg's socialism encompassed both the welfare of society as a whole and the value of the individual life. He found lyrical affirmations of the "broadest average of humanity" in the writings of Whitman, Emerson, William James. He understood the propaganda of the self-help movement in oratory, and tried like his friend Elbert Hubbard to leaven the realities of daily existence in the new industrialized society by encouraging individual initative. In the platform of the Wisconsin Social-Democratic Party, he found a design for the kind of society he envisioned
Gotta wonder what he'd be thinking of his America today…
Finally, here is a conference I'd love to attend: Poetry and Politics — but it's at the University of Sterling in Scotland this July. Take a look at the program (DOC file) and you'll see just how great it's going to be. Adrienne Rich (!) is the Norton Keynote Speaker. Anyone with too much money on hands or anyone travelling that way, with room in their suitcase for me, please contact me!