by Kirby Congdon…….
With political matters becoming more urgent everywhere, this writer has found that one should avoid bringing these conflicts into the medium of poetry.
Discussing them or otherwise reacting to them is better handled in an editorial way, as in public letter-writing forums.
It is not that such matters are not worth our attention. They are, indeed, our concern. But a poem about a particular event soon becomes out of date and its sense of concern loses its strength as history reconciles a conflict one way or another. Urgent voices can be heard in prose within the environment of their own time. If Martin Luther King had said “I have a dream” within the context of a poem, we would have evaluated the success of the poetic format and forgotten about it. The phrase took on a monumental dimension beause that dream was not about the history of poetry’s reference to dreams; the phrase survives, not as literature, but as a permanent document for a particular time, a nation, a people and emphasizes a broad conflict in our lives. The man was doing more that reciting a poem.
A poem can survive too, but it knows where its territory is and functions there on its own page of history. It is not a speech, advice or an argument; it is a poem.