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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 20, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

    Are we not of interest to each other?

    Fiona McCann

    Elizabeth Alexander, poet and professor of African-American studies at Yale, has been chosen to compose and deliver a poem at Obama’s inauguration today. On her website, Alexander pays tribute to Obama’s “respect for the power of language.” Because, as she tells it, “poetry is not meant to cheer; rather, poetry challenges, and moves us towards transformation. Language distilled and artfully arranged shifts our experience of the words – and the worldviews – we live in.”

    So much for poetry making nothing happen. After all, as Alexander herself articulated in her creed Ars Poetica #100: I Believe:

    “Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
    is the human voice, and are we not of interest to each other?”

    A question worth pondering on a day when the promise of the election of a new president thousands of miles away is palpable even in a grey-rimmed office on Tara street.

    • DesJay says:

      Poetry is the Sunday morning of arts and entertainment, while Music may be Sunday evening. But few read poetry these days, while many listen to all sorts of “music” and watch all sorts of films.

      For those of us who tried to assault the persistence of ignorance, and indeed its validation by the outgoing Bush people, reason has proven unequal to the task.

      Art for the sake of art; Art for the sake of humanity.

    • I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately… especially with having SO many online things- facebook and twitter and all those… and then of all the people have the same.

      The reality is I think I spend more time on all those things of mine, than looking at all those things of others.

    • Fiona says:

      DesJay: Hear hear!

      raptureponies: That’s a connection I hadn’t quite got round to making, and I’m glad you pointed it out – taking interest in the things of others over our own. I think Alexander’s parenthetical “here I hear myself loudest” has something to say too, though. We hear ourselves loudest, often, and still we are of interest to each other.

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