Sunday, July 4, 2010

Separation of Poetry and State

The appointment of a poet laureate happens every year. Every year I have the same reaction. If there is such a thing as a poetical party, I would adhere to the one founded by Robert Graves. In that school poets make their own weather as best as they are able—and serve only the White Goddess if she even deigns to notice them. The position of poet laureate—the official title is (please get the little bag out of the seat pocket in front of you) Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—is a creation of Crongress. The laureate serves from October to May. The short term seems to indicate that the United States needs a “poetry-free” period in summer to recover from the hardships of the colder season. I object to all of this. I want true separation of poetry and state. I might acquiesce to an institution entirely outside of government which might, every decade or so, bestow such an honor on the top pop-music lyricist or, better yet, song-writer. John Denver. Now there’s a name I would accept.

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