The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing -- Edmund Burke

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Bad Poets Society

Michael R. Bowen, MD

The Basics

Michael R. Bowen, MD

mbowen@americasvoices.org       
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"How can they call themselves Americans?  I can't believe these people don't want us to defend ourselves."
-- Ken Childers, counter-protester

February 18, 2003


The First Lady, you may have heard, recently had to cancel a proposed gathering of poets at the White House when antiwar individuals among the invited authors threatened to hijack the symposium and turn it into a protest meeting in her living room.  Deprived of the publicity coup of humiliating Mrs. Bush, they were forced to fall back on the customary insinuations of censorship, "disenfranchisement", and suppression of dissent.  A complaisant media took up their cry with headlines such as "Antiwar Poets Denied A Voice".  Sam Hamill, who says he was nauseated by the First Lady's invitation, organized Poets Against The War, whose website now includes more nearly 9,000 antiwar poets.

Several things are striking about the "poetry" offered at the site.  First is the often vicious ad hominem character of much of the work.  President Bush, "The theocratic cowboy rides/into town on a red horse.  He's praying to himself, not God."  There's also the predictable filth and blasphemy, as offered by Maxine Kumin in her "Heaven As Anus".  And of course the underlying principle of the site is that to be a poet naturally means to be a leftist and a pacifist, just as Blacks are supposed to be Democrats and women are supposed to be pro-abortion.

It's bad enough that we must wallow in the juvenile notions that poets are supposed to be about anything other than poetry, and that poetry, like everything else in the eyes of the Left, is a political force.  But what really says all there is to be said about Poets Against The War is the fact that almost none of them write poetry.  To be sure, it looks like poetry -- until you read it.  What appears to be verse turns out, on closer inspection, to be no more than paragraphs chopped into lines of varying lengths and stacked up in groups.  There is almost no meter or rhyme to be found.  There is almost nothing on the site that the reader will remember 20 minutes later, except the tone.

This is the United Nations of poetry.  Just as New York hosts a gathering of dictators and despots pretending to be what they aren't, Poets Against The War is a gaggle of leftist sloganeers pretending to be poets.  When your concept of yourself has nothing to do with what you are, there's only one direction to go:  Left, where open-minded means thinking like the rest of the herd, where free speech means using only politically correct words, where "man of the people" usually means inhabitant of a gated luxury community or occupant of a cozy tenured faculty chair, and where brutal slaughterers of the innocent are "freedom fighters" while those who defend us against them are "the real terrorists".

Juvenile ideology makes for juvenile poetry.  The converse is also true, fortunately.  Poets For The War is a new website speaking up for the other side, and it's striking how much of the work featured at www.poetsforthewar.org is true poetry.  I don't mean to say that it's all of Shakespearean quality; only that there is structure and economy, meter and rhyme, and philosophy instead of temper.  And real poetry apparently takes work, judging by the much smaller number of poems at this site.  It's hard to imagine these writers having a tantrum at Mrs. Bush's symposium; they're much too grown-up.

 

Copyright Copyright 2020 by Michael R. Bowen, MD & America's Voices, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Dr. Michael Bowen, a former Naval officer, has a private medical practice in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.  He writes the weekly column
"The Basics" and the occasional guest column "Mixed Reviews" for America's Voices, a conservative political opinion and educational web site.  His columns also appear in other popular Internet sites, including Opinionet.com and Enterstageright.com.  E-mail Dr. Bowen at mbowen@americasvoices.org.

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