Friday, November 7, 2008

Derek Walcott, on Poetry and Isolation

Derek Walcott, from The Guardian piece called "A Life in Writing" (October 4, 2008):

Walcott is eager to forge a link between the damage done by "bad teachers" who urge students to throw out poetic technique - "to beware of melody" - and what he calls "the totalitarian view of anything, the callous view, the indifference to beauty. If you are indifferent to that, as part of your politics, then everything is permissible. If you can say God is dead, then harmony is dead, melody is dead, music is dead, therefore faith is dead. Therefore it's easy to do what you have to do in the name of necessity. The rules no longer apply. You have something that is a semi-poem, just as you have something that is a semi-democracy or a semi-foreign policy. And you don't count the dead in Iraq because it's not part of the melody."

He is critical of contemporary American poets generally, for not addressing the topic of war. "America is so isolated from what is happening that poets still don't write about the foreign policy of their country. You don't get anything from them that says: 'We are doing terrible shit to the world.'" It is part of the reason why he wanted to do the opera, and why he is making King Creon the head of a modern state. "It's about civilised, high-toned tyranny."

Is Derek Walcott the isolated one? Are we?

1 comment:

brian a j s said...

Every human is isolated to one degree or another, for no human can know what has been done or is being done by all other humans.