Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Not quite Yeats, but Dana Gioia is a poet, essayist, and literary critic I had the pleasure of hearing recite his verse (and others) for at least an hour without notes or transcripts--unheard of at poetry readings. He became persona non grata on campus and in the academe for his essays and criticisms of post-modern poetry after his piece "Can Poetry Matter?" which begins:

American poetry now belongs to a subculture. No longer part of the mainstream of artistic and intellectual life, it has become the specialized occupation of a relatively small and isolated group. Little of the frenetic activity it generates ever reaches outside that closed group. As a class poets are not without cultural status. Like priests in a town of agnostics, they still command a certain residual prestige. But as individual artists they are almost invisible.

The essay is worth a read and can be found here. But I also recommend his poems, which have a slightly formalistic quality and show a deep appreciation for masters like Yeats and Longfellow (on whom he’s written excellent essays). For his lighter fare, check out "Money" from his The Gods of Winter--a poem you’ll be sure to remember when the January Visa bills arrive.

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