Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín

The Role of Poetry in Globalization

 

By Malachi Smith
Written to Prometeo


After a recent reading at my Alma Mater Florida International University, Biscayne Campus, to support a Food for the Poor effort to raise funds for a project in Haiti, a prominent criminal defense attorney approached me and said, “You were wonderful. I write poetry too, and I often use it in my address to juries.”

From time immemorial, writers have always been at the epicenter and forefront at the vanguard for social justice, change, and the coming together of peoples in one love and unity.  The poet’s eyes pen is more acutely aware of the hurt and triumph(s) of the human experience. His response is not just the beauty of esthetics but to bring to the fore the truth of the human experience. Poetry and poets through collective voices and visions, ought to, must vindicate, and must validate the wholeness of the human experience.

It is the poet’s duty to interrogate, investigate, and litigate the human experience(s) and project his/her findings on the broad scale billboards of the human experience. He must strive to be truthful to his calling, leaving no stone(s) unturned as he unearths truths and advocates on behalf of humanity.
In the global village, the poets also must function as a nation builder, as an advocate for the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the disposed, the down trodden, the voiceless, the helpless of society. He must compose melodies to heal wound and mend hearts, to comfort, the break smiles from constricted lips, he must set the captives free, pulling humanity together with the delicate stitching of words.

Joan Aiken probably says it best. The celebrated children’s author poignant states, “Poets are the conscience of a civilization”. She is definitely right on as it is the poet’s role to interrupt the lives of man and project it on a larger screen for the world to see.

He must cleanse ordinary words, anoint them, and promote them to higher levels of cognizance.  He must see when other are blind, he must arise when others are dead, he must heard when others are deaf, he must touch when others are afraid, he must, ought to, rise his voice in defense, advocacy and service of his fellowman. The poet in the global village and contemporary and future societies must be conscious of the influence of his thoughts on humanity. He must be human.

Poets and poetry played critical and crucial roles in the Civil Rights and Harlem Renaissance Movements in the United States of America. British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, used poet Claude McKay’s poem “If We Must Die” to rally his countrymen and fellow Europeans to fight and defeat Adolf Hitler Nazism. The pens voices of reggae poets and musicians, reggae king Bob Marley and Wailers brother Peter Tosh were crucial in tearing down the wicked, cruel and inhumane system of apartheid in South Africa.

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword, than all weapons of mass destruction, than hate and prejudice combined. In the era of globalization, poets must use their craft and gifts un- selfishly in securing mankind victory in our togetherness.

Up dated on March 7th, 2012.

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