A Poetics of the Zeitgeist by Amy King

Please check out my latest pandemic-inspired essay on poetry and capitalism at Jacket Magazine –


There is a reason so many observations exist in relation to poetry versus politics. Try as some more privileged poets and industry makers might, they cannot truly and fully permanently attach the value of poetry to the capitalist machinery that dictates much of politics. Not long term anyway. Ask a politician who receives campaign donations from Blah Blah Corporation’s lobbying group, and he may tell you the answer to climate change is a complex one. Ask a poet, and she will tell you we’re poisoning our shared air and environmental racism is a real thing. The capitalist muzzle doesn’t fit a poet’s pen. The poet speaks, not because of but despite capitalism.

Poetry is a low-stakes celebratory game in the larger machinery we inhabit, and for that reason, despite a part of our industry’s desire to run in sync with capitalist values, to don the yoke of capitalism, in the fullness of time, poetry is also one of the least likely of the arts to be read and revered for who was published in what prestigious publication.

I do not pick up a Cesar Vallejo poem and decide it isn’t meaningful because it never made it to whatever the hottest venue was in Paris in his last years. Vallejo had escaped government persecution in Peru, was occasionally destitute, often depressed, and died in Paris in poverty.

Continued at Jacket Magazine – http://jacket2.org/commentary/two-essays

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AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

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