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The Economics of Poetry

Posted by Sarah Hymas, 11th May 2012

With the current European melt-down it seems sad and inevitable that poetry is considered an unnecessary indulgence.

The new Romanian government cancelled their forthcoming poetry festival, where Arc poet Astrid Alben was due to read, in their coming to power.

Interestingly the former prime minister resigned in February in response to widespread social dissatisfaction over the government's austerity measures. As had Sarkozy felt. Here in the UK the parties argue over how best to get out of this double-dipper. To austere or not?

Adrienne Rich wrote in 2006 Poetry is not a healing lotion, an emotional massage, a kind of linguistic aromatherapy. Neither is it a blueprint, nor an instruction manual, nor a billboard. Nor does it need endorsement from governments to be written or performed. Some would say it needs exactly the opposite.

Jeanette Winterson in Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal said 'A tough life needs a tough language and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers a language powerful enough to say it how it is.'

Poetry is the most economic and portable of all art forms. Economic: all is needs is a pen and paper, for some not even that. Portable: a good memory from its creator and/or listener/reader and it's away into the world.

It is the glue of communities, the wide, restless range of Arc poets holds testament to that, as does every poetry night and forum in this country, Europe and beyond.

It questions pokes and unearths. It bears witness.

And to end with Adrienne Rich,'Poetry has the capacity to remind us of something we are forbidden to see. A forgotten future: a still uncreated site whose moral architecture is founded not on ownership and dispossession, the subjection of women, outcast and tribe, but on the continuous redefining of freedom.'