Here is a video of Matthew Dickman reading at the San Francisco Zen Center. You may love his poetry or hate it, but you must at least take an interest in what he says about the nature of poetry. He says:
“I don’t know a lot about Buddhism, but I also don’t know a lot about poetry. But something I think that they have in common is that in their nature, I think they’re radical. And I think they’re radical because in our society, they support and dignify things like compassion and humanity, a looking inward toward the self and sharing the best of ourselves. I think it’s a very special thing that the two are being combined this evening.”
Most wouldn’t identify poetry as radical, but any serious student of literature, and poetry in particular, realizes that it is indeed a radical form of art, especially against the backdrop of contemporary United States culture. In poetry, the recognition and love of humanness in another is examined and ultimately, hopefully, glorified. In a better world, this would not be a radical act, but in a country fighting distant wars, populated largely by less-than-active consumers, and that focuses nearly all its attention on external entertainment, poetry and all that it seeks to accomplish becomes extremely radical. Ultimately, the radical nature of poetry is what makes it so valuable as a tool for social and personal awakening.