Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why Aren't Poets More Politically Active? - Jen's Article

According to an article online from a poetry magazine, poets are not as politically involved as they used to be, and this serves as a clear disappointment for the author. With their skills in speech and lyrical writing they would be well suited to striking up political discourse, influencing involvement from those that read or listen. The author of this article, whose name I couldn't find on the page with any clarity, spies a trend between American poets and the people around them. These days people are more sedate, and far more preoccupied with looking into themselves rather than paying attention to how their world is changing around them. Poetry was once a powerful way of bridging differences, which makes it perfect for matters of politics.

I guess I could agree, but as an artist of a different kind who could do the same with images and also have an unique impact with that medium of choice, I just don't care to make anything political. I can't make art about something that just doesn't matter to me unless I'm being paid, but a commission to make a character or draw a portrait you're not crazy about comes up, it hardly ever requires you to like it. When you make work of a civil nature, you need to care about it. The message is only reinforced in its top form if the person who gives that message really feels a certain way. I just haven't found any political matter that I feel that strongly about. I'm sorry. I often end up finding out that something is happening when I read it on Facebook or a friend of mine happens to bring it up. I think part of the problem is that even as a child, the people around me were distant from the idea of debate just as well as I am now. The most my parents ever do is complain about the President when there's been some bill released that will affect them. Even so, they never do anything about it. I've never seen my mom vote and my dad used to go to the library, vote, and leave. He made it a point not to tell me who he voted for, even when I asked. He thought it would teach me about how we have the right to keep our votes anonymous, but all it did was prevent me from asking questions like 'why?' and listening to all the important information I ought to consider and be concerned about when I become an adult citizen of the USA. I'll be honest and say that even though I have a voting pass, I haven't voted for anyone or anything. I just don't care. 

It might have to do, most of all, with the fact that it hasn't been necessary. I write these entries after we have class {and I'm glad that's the point} because we did discuss this. People don't tend to take action if they're content. I'm content. I might think the quality of the roads in the city I live in is poor, but unless it's so poor that my car ends up in a surprise ditch, I won't take any action against it. I'll just think about it every time I feel my car bounce out of a pothole and forget about it by the time I get home. 

I'm going to go ahead and answer Jen's questions.

1. I don't really have any political concerns. I can't really decide what side I'm on when it comes to left or right because they both make sense to me in my own, customized way. But honestly? I don't care about things unless they really start to concern me. The only thing so far that may become a concern is health care, insurance, cost of gas, finding work, and making enough money so I won't have to work until I die. Nothing that happens beyond me really bothers me anymore. My mom has been complaining of everything under the sun until I was desensitized to the concerns of others. I mean, I can still feel bad for the Japanese after all the disasters they went through, or those countries where mass genocides have taken place, but I don't send money to charity and all that just yet. I might once I'm out of college and working. You might be able to tell in my work that I don't care, or that I'm simply frightened of it altogether so I let my fear be my muse. 

2. I might not be the best person to answer this. I think artists should provide whatever insight they wish to, because ultimately they'll make the most meaningful work if they stick to what they're interested in. I know if I tried to make work about something I wasn't motivated to do, it would be /off/ in some way. I would be doing someone else's work, or just translating someone else's facts or ideas. But I know that poets and artists have a unique way to reach people with messages of human aspirations. 

3. I don't think so. A lot of the artists I've ever had interest in, or the most interest in, simply make work in ways I find fascinated. I have always been easiest to please with good aesthetics, or at the very least interesting approaches. If there is a political aspect to their work, I probably look way over it and fail to see it there in the first place. Even political satire doesn't appeal to me much. Some artists might not do it for the same reason I do, or because it just gets too complicated when you expose your political beliefs. Others might not have the right to free speech and they can't make an image public without getting it checked and approved by their government. 

4. To be politically active, in my opinion, is to actually do your duties as a citizen in an active fashion. Vote if you're an American for your elected officials and you're being politically active. Protesting a bill in Congress because it goes against your beliefs is another active pursuit. Volunteering to help run a campaign, or enlisting in the army, or supporting the soldiers already enlisted--actively doing any of these things would qualify. As long as you're /doing/ something other than just talking. 

5. I guess I might. Like the piece where you traced a bunch of newspapers from the same month? Did you consciously choose which pages to trace? Did you take only the front pages of every issue? Is the reason for that having to do with the fact that on most newspapers the cover page is often political? Newspapers in general are very socially inclusive. They let you know what's going on in your city, town, or neighborhood. Politics don't have to be large scale. And I'm not sure about the movement, aside from the whole practice itself leaning towards conceptual.

6. Make more of it?

7. It could be, if enough people make a big deal of something they think is politically related. As for me, I don't really see it unless you tell me to look for it. It could be effective, or it could be a case of 'Against Interpretation' if you know what I mean. And you do. I know you do. :D

8. I think any work does. It tells me what you care to spend your time working on, which in turn provides the information on what you might value in your work. Or, if you didn't like doing the labor at all, the idea behind it is insightful enough to tell the audience what's been on your mind.

Like I've said before, I'm not a politically active or inclined person. I'm very private and unless my personal world has been rocked by the outside, I won't shake any sticks at anyone. So my work might reflect how much I don't care or it might reflect how much I care without being aware of it. 

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