Engagement

Inspired by VLAW (who claims inspiration from me, I don’t know why).

For the record, my take on engaged poetry is primarily (2), though I wouldn’t defne it as VLAW does. The first is the kind of idea that arises in a society where the individual is considered the most important unit in the society. The second is the kind of idea that arises in a society where the individual is equal, or subordinate, to the group. The difference is a cultural difference in the way in which art is viewed, not a fundamental difference in the art itself.

I see no reason why there should be a structural or formal difference between the two. Why should there be? The difference is one of perception and privilege. Art is both creative and communicative — solitary and group-oriented (which is why something that is solely self-referential, which has no consideration whatsoever for an audience, is not art). Every artist, even a collaborator, has to function in both worlds. After all, art is the exercise of saying something to — or on behalf of — a community.

From my perspective, whether one writes to as an expression of individual realities or on behalf of a community, the process is the same. The difference is the intention, the significance attributed to the process by the writer and the society.

IMHO, of course.

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