Poets are radios

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Greek Poetry in the Shadow of Austerity – David Wallace – The New Yorker – 6/27/17

“The poet Jack Spicer famously compared the poet to a radio: when the writer is really listening in, he or she simply receives transmissions at a certain frequency. Ultimately, Spicer implies, there’s little control over what comes across onto the page. This kind of thinking initially seems to concern the mystery of individual inspiration—where our ideas come from. But is there a frequency for public devastation that has grown too loud to ignore, signals that start to impinge on every part of life?

“In Greece, for the past decade, the news has been grim, and there is a surplus of poets who have tuned in: ‘Poets writing graffiti on walls, poets reading in public squares, theaters, and empty lots, poets performing in slams, chanting slogans, and singing songs at rallies, poets blogging and posting on the internet, poets teaming up with artists and musicians, poets teaching workshops to schoolchildren and migrants,’ as Karen Van Dyck writes in her introduction to ‘Austerity Measures,’ an anthology that presents contemporary Greek-language poetry as a thriving community amid the turmoil.”

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