08 May

Let’s count the bodies over again

Robert Bly

Robert Bly, still a major American poet of immense powers, still working his magic, still attempting to get us inside ourselves (for better) through words. Still impossible to hold fast, keep quiet, define. He’s the American Poet-Shaman of our times.

Unfortunately, he will never be honored by the powers-that-be as America’s Poet Laureate. He will not be invited to the White House for tea. He tells too many truths about the American psyche too well to receive any such distinction. We prefer to silence such poets. Dismiss them.

When Bly accepted the honor and prize money for The Light Around the Body, the country, perhaps, was not accustomed to hearing such a passionate response from one of its major poets: “You have given me an award for a book that has many poems in it against the war. I thank you for the award. As for the thousand-dollar check, I am turning it over to the draft-resistance movement, specifically to the organization called the Resistance. . . .” — March 6, 1969.

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