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Dangerous Poetry

Who would have thought that it would be poetry that stirred fear and loathing in the souls of our elected leaders (or, at least, those in South Carolina)? Poetry: The provocative first line of tense reckoning. Poetry: The rhythmic hand ripping away the band-aid to reveal the scarred topic of conversation. Poetry: The calm yet subversive voice of revolution.

H.M.S._Theseus_Vice_Admiral_DacresSo dangerous was this poem that the 120 seconds required for its reading were redacted from the clock. That time was away and somewhere else… And so the South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth, who has written poems for South Carolina’s past three inaugurations, was told that her poem “One River, One Boat” was sunk before pushing off, drowned with the courage and reflection of those who should have been on board.

Poetry is a revelatory form of communication, enabling unfamiliar, surprising, challenging and delightful routes into conversation with ourselves and with others. Under the expert supervision of Professor Todd Robinson, a group of us handled these combustible ingredients at this Squishtalks Arthaus in 2012, and found new ways of conversing with each other.

The complete inauguration program for the day covered the time from 9 am to 11 pm. But poems obliquely can open doors to difficult conversations. Two minutes can be dangerous.

1 Comment

  1. aChittenden says

    You touch mostly on the idea, here, of something being lost – an artistic expression, a message that would have been heard – and I think that’s important. I think it’s equally important that your readers note that the micromanaging out of the schedule a voiced poem that’s potentially uplifting or that might cause one to self-reflect on their biases or attitudes is, in the name of being more efficient with event planning, a real shame. To me it’s indicative of how very far our ideas of what our culture, our society should be valuing has shifted. Two minutes is, surely, not too much to ask.

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