I recieved a comment on my last post that I'd like to address more openly, having already responded to it. The anonymous poster wondered what the point of poetry is in a world full of genocide, poverty, AIDS, and terrorism. He or she would like to know if Canadians, like me, don't have something more important to think about than writing poetry.
Dear anonymous poster, it is for you that I do everything I do in Canadian literature.
Yes, Canadians face a host of global political problems today. We live in a complex world, and it is poetry, not newspapers, that can teach us about it. I am assuming that this poster, like most Canadians, has only ever been exposed to the boring, nature-loving, apolitical, pretty poetry that I believe threatens poetry today by ignoring its political responsibility. The reason I want to expose Canadians to the poetry being written in Canada right now is because it is about some pretty volatile stuff. These poems ask us to face the issues rather than hide in the newspapers, which really don't tell us that much anyway.
I wonder if this poster had heard any of the poems I have read on the show so far. If not, I urge him or her, and everyone else, to listen to the show tomorrow (or download it whenever: http://secure.ckut.ca/cgi-bin/ckut-grid.pl and go to the Wednesday Morning After). I will be reading one of the most politically volatile works of Canadian poetry I have ever read. It is called No Language Is Neutral by Dionne Brand, and it asks Canadians to look at their society beyond the idealistic image of multicultural harmony we have going on. The speaker's experience, as a Caribbean Torontonian immigrant lesbian, is one of racism, sexism, and oppression, and yes, this is Toronto in the 1990s. Poets like Brand ask us to look more closely at our society from a different perspective from what the newspapers would like us to see.
For this reason, my anonymous poster, we must do more than "read the newspaper" as you so kindly suggest. We also need to read the poetry that is showing us what's really happening outside what the general Canadian media would have us believe. Maybe then you could make a more intelligent response to something you are ignorant of.
Thanks for the comment.