Monday, November 8, 2010

Where has the poetry gone?

Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column of November third laments the loss of poetry in our President. He worries that Obama is being faithful to Mario Cumo’s observation of politicians that they campaign in poetry but govern in prose. Kristoff writes that the American people “wouldn’t mind being lifted by an occasional verse of poetry.”

I agree, but I’m not sure we should look to our president for that. I am willing to settle for well thought out lucid prose from the President. We can find our poetry elsewhere.

I think our need for poetry is in our DNA. Note how babies and young children respond to the rhythms of the nursery rhyme. As adults we love the lyrics to our songs, given to us by such poets as Bob Dylan, Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter. Hopefully, we learn to love and read poetry in our schools. We can continue our love affair after we leave school, by reading poems, attending poetry events and even writing it ourselves.

The pundits have criticized Obama as being too detached and without emotion. Maybe we need to start with ourselves and make sure our passions are getting a workout through remaining connected with poetry. It is out there. Let us passionately pursue it.


  1. And I just had a discussion with a dear friend about poetry today. Were you reading our minds? RS

  2. What a revolutionary idea--to start with ourselves! Holding a mirror up always works in sometimes unusually powerful ways. And don't I feel great when I write a poem. But it takes focus and making it a priority. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. @ Ruth---great minds always think alike.
    @Judy---ah yes---the gift of focus.