Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Poet for President?

Long before becoming a politician, Barack Obama was the editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review and author of a well-regarded autobiographical memoir. ["Dreams of My Father"].

Now, as Harper's Magazine reminds us, he wrote poetry, too. At least two poems, anyway, penned when he was nineteen years old. They were first published by a long-deceased student literary journal known as "Feast."

In truth, The New Yorker was the first to unearth the poems and give them new exposure, nearly a year ago. That magazine asked Yale literature professor Harold Bloom to give the poems a retrospective review. The good professor "was not unimpressed with the young man’s efforts," we are told, although he added, "Obama has chosen the right career, at least if it comes to a tossup between politico and poet."

Typical Yale snobbishness, if you ask us. In any event, you can be the judge:
By Barack Obama (1981)

Under water grottos, caverns
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Rushing water,
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.

Most folk think the immediate question this political year is, "Will Americans vote for a mixed race politician for president?"

We think the tougher question is, "Can Americans who time and again elect leaders who don't read books bring themselves to vote for someone who writes them?"

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