Letter to the Editor

Giving short shrift, to many of poetry’s gifts

There was certainly an ironic juxtaposition of articles in The Post on Jan. 26. As Alexandra Petri pondered the obsolescence of poetry on the op-ed page in her commentary “Ode to an obsolete art,” readers took issue on the Free for All page with The Post’s failure to include Richard Blanco’s powerful inauguration poem in its print editions [“The missing inauguration poem”].

One sure-fire way to contribute to making an art form obsolete is for the city’s major newspaper to deny the public access to it. Who loves words more, or would if given the chance, than people who still read a hard-copy newspaper?

Craig Hollander,

Silver Spring

I seek out the poets when I cannot find words for my thoughts and feelings. I need time to reflect, and poetry gives me both the words and the time. When my husband and my daughter died, I sought the poets. When the sun rises through the leafless tree branches and takes my breath away, I seek the words of poets to describe what I see, think and feel. When I long to make sense out of everyday life, the poet gives me words and, yes, affirmation, sympathy and some times challenges. When what I need is to laugh at myself or the ridiculousness of my circumstances, the poet brings a smile to my face. And when I look on the sleeping faces of my grandchildren, the poet gives me words and reflection time for my gratitude. I so wish Alexandra Petri might have the opportunity to receive the life-enriching gifts of poetry and to know how important poetry is for many of us.  

Ginger Luke, Bethesda

Thank you for responding to those who felt, as I did, the absence of that beautiful poem from your inauguration coverage. Thank you for printing it in its entirety, so that I could savor it and feel again as I did when it was so perfectly read by its author. It expresses all the wonder and hope that is a part of living in our special country and fit so well with the other words of that exceptional day. 

Marianne McDermott, Falls Church

In response to Alexandra Petri’s “Ode to an obsolete art,” I offer the following: 

I think that I shall never see

A column so daft as A. Petri’s. 

She says, in just the first line read,

That poetry’s most surely dead.

The Iliad did spread news through Homer.

But “obsolete”? A huge misnomer! 

Where, she asks, will we get our news?

Stories that matter come from the Muse.

Making home within the human heart,

She reminds us of this essential part 

Of what it means to human be.

And so she prompts our poetry.

Poets’ names should cross the sky?

That’s not the point . . . their point is why,

Who, what, and when:

Like reporters telling stories with the pen 

Or Linotype or Internet,

Just so their news by eyes are met. 

Utilitarian the poem’s not,

Giving wings, instead, to heart’s best thought. 

Even when these couplets fail to rhyme,

Poetry will be just . . . ducky. 

Journalism:  Not so lucky?

James M. Truxell, Reston

If others besides The Post’s television critic are unsure whether Richard Blanco’s moving Inauguration Day evocation of America’s greatness and diversity is poetry, they can turn to virtually any page of the collected works of Walt Whitman, considered by many to be America’s greatest poet, for reassurance. Blanco’s rhythms, themes and scope all echo Whitman’s timeless voice.

William Kloman, Washington

 
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