"Like many white, middle-class poets coming of age in the early-to-mid-1980s, I was told by my poetry teacher not to write political poems: "The poet must love language above all else." He liked my poems about families, about fathers' ambivalent feelings about fatherhood. When later that semester I heard him read a whole series about his own father's ambivalent feelings about fatherood, I should have been tipped off to the unfortunated truth that poets too often try to refashion their students in own images. Instead, I was chastened.
But I couldn't seem to stop writing political poems. I had been raised in a political household - one that also deeply loved language - at a very political time, the late 60s/early 70s, in a very political place, the South Side of Chicago. My father was an English professor and a political activist. My mother and grandmother were both poets. Two of my earliest memories are marching down State Street with my father, protesting the Vietnam War, and playing hide-and-seek with my friend, Jill, at a teach-in, tumbling over the legs of stoned and outraged hippies, sprawled on the floor. At age nine, I sold bumper stickers for McGovern outside the A&P - my first presidential campaign."
To read the full article, click here.