I’ve been thinking, and talking, a lot about political poetry. It’s something I’m deeply interested in – which I often find at least on the surface conflicting with my interest in experimental literature. They seem to occupy different ends of a spectrum. Poetry that is politically and socially engaged tends towards directness, clarity of expression and obvious subjects of engagement. Poetry that is experimental tends towards obscurity, complex and convoluted expression and abstracted subjects of engagement. Do they ever meet?
Anyways, yesterday on my blog-reading day I came across a few things that were interesting in furthering my own thinking about the social responsibility of art, and of writing in particular.
One of 15 theories of art by Alain Badiou at Lacan Ink:
2. Art cannot merely be the expression of a particularity (be it ethnic or personal). Art is the impersonal production of a truth that is addressed to everyone.
Alan Stewart Carl at Hayden’s Ferry:
I reject the idea that a writer should write without concern for the culture. And that goes double for white, middle-class male writers. Given the realities of life, white, middle-class male writers can’t just hand over their institutionalized privilege. We can, however, be aware of our fortuitousness and use our systematically unfair opportunities not for insular, navel-gazing but toward the exterior realities and struggles of our time. This is, I believe, incumbent upon any writer, but it’s particularly incumbent upon writers whose privilege has given them a boost and whose life experiences are already well-represented within the culture.
But if I at least make a concerted effort to write stories about the true complications of our world – rather than stories that exist in some insular version of my own life – maybe I can poke holes in the cultural fabric and maybe those holes will let in some better light and some fresher air and, ultimately, do something – however small – to allow for more opportunities for all writers, regardless of race, class or gender.