Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sarah Palin, poet?

Julian Gough, a writer at the British magazine Prospect, has a somewhat unusual proposal: Barack Obama should appoint Sarah Palin poet laureate.

Here's an example of her poetry:

And the relevance to me
With that issue,
As we spoke
About Africa and some
Of the countries
There that were
Kind of the people succumbing
To the dictators
And the corruption
Of some collapsed governments
On the Continent,
The relevance
Was Alaska’s.
(formatting by Andrew Sullivan)

And perhaps her most famous quote turns out to be a haiku!

What’s the difference
Between a hockey mom and
A pit bull? Lipstick
Hough's justification for considering Palin a poet:

A great poet needs to leave open the door between the conscious and unconscious; Sarah Palin has removed her door from its hinges. A great poet does not self-censor; Sarah Palin seems authentically innocent of what she is saying. She could be the most natural, visionary poet since William Blake.
What's funny about this is not just what it says about Sarah Palin, but what it says about contemporary poetry. Read that first bit, imagining a breathy, halting, melodramatic voice, and it almost works. The line breaks establish the pacing that seems to define poetry today.

Perhaps Yeats was anticipating Sarah Palin when he wrote that famous description of the outcome of Easter 1916:

All changed, changed utterly.
A terrible beauty is born.
Rereading it, with my appreciation for irony quite sharp these days, I found these lines immediately after those above:

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
Sarah Palin as Maud Gonne? She is certainly a muse to many.

One day early, here is something I am thankful for: that I have the freedom to have fun with this idea.

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