More General Assertions about Contemporary Poetry at NPR


Over at NPR, Juan Vidal wonders whether poets are still political. He suggests that poetry is “the language of protest” and provides several prominent examples of political poems, poems of discord and opposition. Such examples include Ginsberg’s “Howl,” poems by Pablo Neruda and Amiri Baraka. He asserts that today’s musicians are surpassing the poets in terms of political engagement.

Curiously, Vidal seems to overlook some of the excellent politically-charged poems of late. Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric comes to mind. The poems of Mark Bibbins, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Cathy Park Hong, Patricia Lockwood, Patricia Smith, Michael Robbins and dozens more. It was unclear at press time how many of the more than 1,000 books of poetry that have been published so far this year Vidal has actually read.