In Defense of Poetry….A Letter to the NYT, October, 2002

To The Editors:

The logic and structure of good journalism are poorly fitted for poetry. Spreading myths and printing falsehoods may violate the standards of a decent newspaper but they are the very stuff of poetry, and that’s why no one with an ounce of sense goes to Homer or Neruda or Schymborska or Bob Dylan for the facts. When you instruct your readers that the “proper response” to reading Amiri Baraka is “discussion and condemnation” you both confuse the register of poetry, and you beg the question. The great Chicago poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, once asked, “Does man love Art?” Her response: “Man visits art but squirms. Art hurts. Art urges voyages.”

William Ayers

October 2, 2002

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