Timeless or timely

Over at Harriet, one of their poetry month guest bloggers, Rachel Zucker starts off with this question:

Is it more important to you that your poems be timeless or timely and why?

Why the absurdly simplistic (and plain absurd) dichotomy? Implied: it can only be one or the other. Implied: politics have no place in poetry. Implied: poetry should be distanced from the world. But surprising from Zucker, whose poetry is so engaged.

Perhaps she’s playing into the common (mis)understanding of poetry’s limits and what it SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT do. I’ll be interested to see where this develops, that’s for sure. In any case, examples of both:

Whitman, Hughes, Lorde, Rich, Neruda, Cesaire, Darwish…just to start.

Poetry should do both. Reflect on the now, for the forever. It can and must.

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