As a poet who also works in the business world I have had a unique perspective on what has happened to America and the world over the past three years. I have often wondered what it would be like to live at a time that could be termed a hinge of change and now I know. You can see the signs everywhere of decline. And yet no one who caused this destruction has really had to pay.
Recently, I read a Book by Professor Nassim Taleb called the Black Swan Theory. His thesis, which by the way was put forth in 2007 is that predictions are mostly bunk and that random events, like the discovery of the internet or the black death or other things cause us to be fooled by the randomness.
In the end what Taleb is arguing for is what America was about until 1980. Starting in 1980 risk became part of our lives in a way that it was not for many years. This was exacerbated by avarice and greed on the part of many people- not just the rich. We all remember the million dollar mortgages to people making $ 70,000 a year.
We are now reaping the whirlwind yet where is the art and poetry reflecting this Black Swan moment?
Not much has changed for poets and poetry While the Black Swan had decimated so many those who dwell in poetry's establishment on campuses and within the Poetic Industrial Complex (this runs from Berkeley to Iowa City, to the Poetry Foundation, to Penn, to Wesleyan, detours at Brown and ends at the Poetry Project in New York) may have seen their funding drop but the conversations seem numbingly the same.
There is no urgency.
Poets in America have never been very political but they have been mirrors of their times. From Whitman t0 Sandberg to Williams to Ginsburg there has been a sense that in our Poetry you could sense America .
I read contemporary poetry from the Post Avant to the Neo Formal and I see the same conversations and same kinds of work as three years ago. The work is aPolitical unless it is about sexual or gender issues.
Vallejo's Book of Spanish Civil War Poems were published in 1937 . Guernica by Picasso was in the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 World's Fair. Literature has encapsulated moments in our history. I am looking for that synthesis and cannot find it in Poetry.
Are there any poets that want to encapsulate this period or is that too much to ask of the ironical poets of our time?