From De Ronsard, to Hugo and Trotsky, Many Poets through the ages viewed themselves either as political protectors or agitators of the state. These guys weren’t just trying to impress the ladies with a sonnet or two, they viewed their work as catalysts for the betterment of the human condition for all ages; either politically, socially or spiritually.
Use of language, or, the ‘art of rhetoric’ as coined by Aristotle, can convince mothers to send sons to die in foreign wars, or soften the hearts of battle-hardened men to lay down their loads. Such is the power of verse well-ordered, and well-orated.
In an age where our politicians aim for five-second soundbites – think Abbott’s ‘Stop the boats’ stanza or recall our 2pm Question Time in Parliament – Regardless of your political persuasion, one can’t help but feel dismayed at the total lack of linguistic vigour from our bearers of Public Office.
Democratic Politicans are meant to be the voice of the people i.e. Greek – Demos (people) Kratos (rule). Why is it then that when I hear a Pollie use its pipes, I don’t hear my voice, I hear the voice of a cardboard cut-out? Monotone, lifeless, patronising repetition of simple sentences…
It seems to me, that the the modern-day Pollie has swapped poetics for public relations. The irony being that by choosing the latter, the public turn away in apathy and disillusionment.
If you have a public-speaking engagement, pop your PR Manager on a one-way ticket to Poconos and face an audience that wants to be inspired by YOU. This means all of you – your witticisms, your vulnerability and valour, your grit your failures, your triumphs.
You don’t have to rhyme or Def Jam to be a Poet Prince of the Podium – just give the audience what they want – more of the real and less of the spiel.
Till next time, crack a whid!