Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Bill Witherup
Dear Editor,

I read the complete August issue at a university library. I can't fault any of the poems for language or imagination, but do find that the poems are narrow in content: eros, landscapes, memory, or poems "name-dropping" earlier literary artifacts. The contributors seem to live in a "closed universe," where little contemporary reality seeps in. One would not know by reading this issue that there are wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; our civil liberties are being eroded at home; that there are more prisoners in state and federal prisons in the United States than anywhere in the world; that global warming and other environmental dangers are at hand; that there are more and more homeless on the streets; that racism is still with us—the list could go on. It is no wonder, then, that poets and poetry are not taken seriously as activist-intellectuals. Had not Edward Said died, it would have been really interesting to have given him a current issue of Poetry to see what he might have made of it.

Seattle, Washington

Originally Published: October 30, 2005

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This prose originally appeared in the November 2004 issue of Poetry magazine

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