Soul Cadence and the Social Poet
Mark Antony Rossi

 The audience for social poetry is here and waiting on poetry speaking to the new evolving political rhythms of our existence, divorced of obscure references, mythic Greek figures and greeting card mush. What honour is granted our history, our species, by hopping over homeless men in mad rushes to document suburban childhood. One senses in the American poetry world the literary equivalent of Reagan's philosophy of supporting unions as long as they exist in Poland or other far away lands. Writers living in a democracy, regardless how perfect that democracy perceives itself, must be willing to stand up against the inequalities and wrongdoing inevitable in any organized society.

My heart mourns the judgements of the future: "Where were they?" As disease and despairs devour the very fabric of our souls. "Where were they?" As civil liberties are under daily attack---the future will ask: "Where were they?" A proper question posed to common citizens and writers of which history shall always expect more from. The mourning continues as I wade through today's other art forms and mediums corrupted by the twin evils of commercialism and egotism. Their material polluted in masturbatory fashions as Life is reduced to consumption and highly sexualized, sword-wielding quests to compete and conquer. Reason and Reality are abandoned; condemned as weak-kneed conditions offering only rewardless responsibilities.

The rationalizations to side-step social writing are legion and usually summed up in a cowardly proclamation: "everything's been said." As if the great writers of old could have divined the astounding technological advances that shape and shatter the modern human condition. True it is that every age has spoken its peace and poetry, but we must now speak our own modern perceptions with renewed commitment if today's masses are to grasp something more vital than the latest shopping mall fragrance. To combat soul sucking apathy artists should be driven to insult saccharine ramblings disguised as relevance. Instruct video fed citizens to view life beyond the screen. Invigor senses long-since asleep at the wheel of lazy wealth.

Poets are not born to be silent. They are born to care and are provided with heightened arrays of instinct and instruments to shape far and away landscapes dying for mercy and magic and all the beauty poems expressing compassionate dignity can ignite. I believe poets can move mountains. Move them with the power of stubborn faith and action inherent in all true artistic talent. A peaceful army screaming wherever liberty is molested, dreaming into reality  the consequences of body and soul; marshalling emotions desensitized by occupational rote. The deadened feelings once known, but yesterday, when words were magical doorways to justice and jubilee.


Your childhood home can wait. Make ready to write about children in harm's way. Flowers in the fields will arrive again next season. Rally against justice delayed or risk seasons of freedom denied. Poets are born to be activists of a sort. It should surprise no one that dictatorial governments arrest and execute, first and foremost, poets. Never in the history of mankind has an evil government killed a poet for poems of prairies and flowers. Make it your responsibility as a human and a poet to periodically write about wrongs that should be righted. Be not content at the supportable until you know greater things than lyrical melody traverse your craft.

History has taught us not all victims of crimes have a voice or can use their voice effectively to right horrible wrongs. Those writers enraptured to compose tributes to green meadows forget tragedy is on the same coin as Beauty. And no living soul is truly free while some of his countrymen are grasping freedom through the  steel bars of naked hatred. If Politics are merely slick schemes dreamt by snake oil salesmen, and Art a field of pretty flowers, what hope remains to guard against present or future personality cults curtailing your every word, colour and photograph. Their reign has a strange way of turning green meadows into ash.


(C) Copyright Winter, 2000 Mark Antony Rossi All Rights Reserved