Letter to Laura Bush
edited: Friday, April 25, 2003
By Brian M Morrisey
Posted: Friday, April 25, 2003
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IT SEEMS AS THOUGH AMERICA NEVER UNDERSTANDS THE FULL IMPACT OF DEATH and suffering during our ill-fated past since we are under the break of, yet, another war. This time it is in order to take away the toys of modern man who strives to be king for a day.
While America, Iraq, and Korea are busy pointing weapons at each other in every direction, noble Laura Bush, decides to chime in to host a White House “celebration” event called Poetry and the American Voice, only to cancel the event after learning that guest poet and known activist, Sam Hamill, will not be arriving, but will be soliciting over ten thousand poems of protest against the war. I am surprised that you didn’t see this coming. It seems as though you are under the impression that poetry and politics are two separate entities. Are you sure about that Mrs. Bush? History proves you wrong.
A few other questions come to mind... Why were you planning a “celebration” of poetry at the White House during a time that is demanding poetic insight toward disbelief that we are on the horizon of a slaying by the thousands? Did you really expect poets, of all people, to come to your party with a voice to support the White House during a gathering in the name of poetry? American Poets are not to be extradited from this “American Voice.” Who exactly was this party for anyway? You were going to read the classics, like Walt Whitman, but did you know Whitman would not approve of this war? Read one of the numerous notebooks he wrote in retrospect to the horrific bloodshed during Civil War. He definitely opposed it, like the poets of today oppose the war. The poems may not be as eloquent as a Whitman classic, but really, it is the same “American Voice.”
Mrs. Bush, you state that you expected poetry to transcend politics. Again, if you look at the history of poetry, that doesn’t make sense. Part of poetry may be talking about feelings, hopes and dreams from a bird’s eye point of view, but little do you understand that we are not gods gracing down from above or mere flies on the wall waiting to be swatted at by the cronies pointing fingers behind their comfortable chairs. We are active members of society with an “American Voice,” as you call it, with a thirst for it to be heard. No, politics have never scribbled too far from the poet’s pen and, believe it or not, they are more alike than you may realize.
As a poet, I am honored to know that the First Lady finally has a concept of Contemporary American Poetry.
Editor of Poesy Magazine.