I was pleased to see a brief essay by one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Jolie Holland,* in “The View from Here” section of the January 2011 issue of Poetry. The section is the eighth in the magazine’s series of “occasional feature[s] in which people from various fields comment on their experience of poetry.” Holland confesses to writing poetry incessantly when she was thirteen and under the sway of Dylan Thomas, Blake, Wilde, and Yeats. But no, she says, “I don’t read much poetry these days,” because poetry (for her) is arriving constantly in the form of song lyrics. “I know that song is designed to be of use,” she writes, “to move people, to move one’s energy. […] Words on the page that can do that for me are few and far between. Songs that have that power are likewise few. A lot of songs and poetry are emanations of souls that have no power of internal motion, and therefore can provide no inspiration for anyone else [emphasis mine].” Finally, she tosses off what ought to be a touchstone for every poet: “I don’t know how to talk about what poetry is, except to talk about the experience. It’s good to have your hand on the rudder, and know when the current is moving powerfully.” What would happen, I wonder, if every poet accepted the responsibility of moving the reader? Of course, to do that poets would have to take seriously the attempt to move their poetry from parlor trick to art, from private play to public inspiration. “I’m gonna spare the defeated,” the other Dylan sings in “Lonesome Day Blues,”** “I’m gonna preach to the crowd.” Well—why not?