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Poetry and Politics

On January 2nd, I read a couple of poems at a local swearing in of our State Representative, Michele Grim. A small service at the Collingwood Arts Center, just being a part of it was an honor. Not only was I given free reign to read what I wanted, but I am a fierce supporter of Michele's work. I've known her husband for half of my life and she grew up in my husband's small town, but also she is a kindred spirit in her politics.

I read a poem about people who fight for what's right (also a holiday poem):

How Building a Community Is Like Watching Holiday Movies While Baking

We like to think that what is broken

gets mended with gold but mostly it just

sits there like run-over Milwaukee's Best

Ice cans next to a highway. However,

glimmers catch our eye. A little free

library near a schoolyard, a stop light

where the kids cross to cornerstone, more

ramps at the Sidewalk corners for Larry

who wheels his way to the post office

to mail new paintings he lives to share.

They twinkle like shiny apples so easy

to pick and you could just swoop in,

"ploink!" and here you go, ma'am! But

then you find you are out of baking soda,

the jealous ex-boyfriend has shown up

at your hometown holiday fest and one

parent says what if someone puts porn

in the box, and some other non-parent

is terribly concerned. You've already sent

letters to the editor and city council

but nobody's been killed by a speeding car

in your low-income neighborhood, so no

need for pretty lights. And Larry's used to

dodging onto the street. One person, turns out,

isn't enough. Which is why you are here,

mixer-deep in snickerdoodles, desperate

to understand how Chad Michael Murray

keeps getting work but resolved not to quit

until the hard-nosed executive saves

the family farm and the high school

sweethearts reveal their lingering love

and the single dad carpenter convinces

the hardened reporter that some things,

after all, are always worth fighting for.

Your prompt for today is to write a political poem that avoids being didactic. Yes, write the political rant... we need to make our ideas known. But then, write something that deals with politics in a tender way. Something that reveals who you are but without forcing or preaching. Given all of the negotiating and persuasiveness that a public servant has to employ just to get some basic things done, a poet should be just as crafty.

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Chris Bodor
Chris Bodor
Apr 05, 2023

I love this. Didactic is an effective tactic. Something to think about.

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