“Objectionable” Verse Shunned by Powers-That-Be

Two stories in the news the past couple of days might be of interest to writers in Wisconsin, even though these events occurred in other states. One is about the South Carolina poet laureate. Here’s the headline:

 S.C. poet laureate will not be allowed to recite poem at Haley inauguration

The other is about a poem in Arizona. Here’s the headline on that one:

Arizona Education Officials Say It’s Illegal To Recite This Poem In School

Members of the Council for Wisconsin Writers thought these stories are important and worth posting on this blog as they relate to the role and risks of public art..

In honor of both poets whose work is in question, here are the first few lines of their poems with links to the stories which printed them in their entirety. First, S.C. Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth’s poem:

I know there’s something better down the road.

                                                                                                   – Elizabeth Alexander

                                                         Because our history is a knot

                                                        we try to unravel, while others

                                                        try to tighten it, we tire easily

                                                        and fray the cords that bind us.

And here are the first few lines of and link to the poem by Chicano playright Luis Valdes, which, according to the story, “aims to instill ideas of empathy and integrity:

In Lak’ech

Tú eres mi otro yo.

You are my other me.

Si te hago daño a ti,

If I do harm to you,

Me hago daño a mi mismo.

I do harm to myself.


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