Adam Kirsch had this to say about Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural performance: “[T]he poet’s place is not on the platform but in the crowd […], she should speak not for the people but to them.”
This seems to me obscurity dressed up as profundity; the more I turn it over the less sense it makes. But how does it strike you? True or false? True and false? Neither true nor false?
Regardless, Kirsch seems to beg questions related to power—political and poetic—and to prescribe the status quo: poets speaking “to” rather than “for,” “in the crowd” (which crowd? the crowd that listens when poets speak?), where no one in power can hear them.
And why do I bristle at the phrase “the poet’s place”?