At a website with which I was until now unfamiliar, a "call for more political poetry."
Although in several previous posts I have complained about the politicization of both literature and literary criticism, I can't say I really object to the kind of "policital" poetry Michael Silverstein describes here. In general, I don't really have a problem with either "political poetry" or "political fiction," as long as everyone involved understands that such writing is essentially what ought to be called "occasional" writing--composed in response to a particular event or some other immediate provocation--and that this kind of writing does not come close to exhausting the possibilities of either poetry or fiction.
Some great political poems have indeed been written--Yeats's poem on the Easter uprising, Cummings's "i sing of olaf," even The Waste Land. All three of these poems in fact have transcended the "political" circumstances in which they were written and continue to work powerfully on their readers because they express emotions and ideas that could be called "universal" even if political; in effect they tap into feelings that could superficially be considered political but that really have their roots in the deeper responses we have to ongoing events that make them seem important to us. They get at the "conditions of possibility" of a political response. (The same thing is true of great political fiction, such as Henry James's The Princess Casamassima, or Robert Coover's The Public Burning.)
Of course, none of the poems I've named would have been printed on the Op-Ed page, either.
I do think Silverstein is confused when he writes, "On the poets' side, we need a lot less of the postmodern, endlessly introspective, culture for the cognoscenti, self-consciously unstructured work. . . ." "Postmodern" and "endlessly introspective" are not the same thing--not by a long shot; few poets have much use for the "cognoscenti," and very little contemporary poetry is "self-consciously unstructured." Much of it is actually quite intricately structured, which is one reason why some people do complain that it's "postmodern."