In a recent op-ed for the New York Times, Frank Rich contended that Obama’s notably austere inaugural address signaled a necessary shift away from poetic posturing to a direct call for action. Given the current state of the nation, according to Rich, this is no time for poetry.
Chicago-based poet, blogger, and small press founder B.J. Love is making a case for poetry in a troubled world. His Further Adventures Chapbooks and Pamphlets, a small press dedicated to breaking new poets and publishing new work by established poets, takes the innovative approach of marrying work by an established writer and an emerging writer within a single entity. For each chapbook Love selects two writers whose work he “deems compatible/coordinating/collaborative in some way,” thereby allowing their writing to riff off each other. Each poet contributes a mini-chapbook which is bound together with the other’s, allowing for a poetic conversation in concrete form.
So, is this a good time for poetry? “People may think art is a waste of time because it’s not ‘goods’ that can be bought, sold and taxed, but down the road art is all we got,” Love says. “The only historical documents I’ve read from the 1860s are the Gettysburg address, a poetic speech, and Leaves of Grass and THAT is how I understand those times, and I think years from now, poetry will still be how we understand times, these time included.”