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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Censoring for the Public / Poetry & Purity

"When the writer knows pretty well that only very few volumes of his edition will be bought... he obtains a great freedom in his creative work. The writer who has in view the certainty, or at least the possibility of selling all his edition, is sometimes influenced by their future sale... almost without meaning to, almost without realizing -- there will be moments when, knowing how the public thinks and what it likes and what it will buy, he will make some little sacrifices -- he will phrase this bit differently, and leave that out."
I found the above quote via the poet Nathalie Handal, who linked an article by Christopher Merrill, Director, International Writing Program, University of Iowa. The article titled The Invisible Procession  appeared in the Huffington Post and addresses of the use of poetry when the world shifts underfoot.  Merrill seems to be asking, are these times not picture perfect for the genuineness of poetry?

I've never considered this to be a positive attribute, but there is an irony in these words. Poets like Carolyn Forche', Pablo Neruda, Nathalie Handal, Charles Simic, and Mahmoud Darwish are a few poets that come to my mind who have have in fact very effectively written poetry of witness.  In each of these cases I think there is clear evidence that their work has been void of the kind of sacrifices of genuineness that panders to what a writer thinks people what to hear. Still each achieves a following because of their art. Maybe because of the purity of their words and not through capitulation. Amen!
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