Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two things you may not know about me...

1. I don't really like modern poetry. Call me uncivilized, but it's true. I do like some older poets such as Shelley, Dickinson, and Whitman. I also like the poetry found in the words of hymns. Other than that, I am really not interested.

2. I am a National Public Radio (NPR) junkie. I feel like I am learning something when I am in the car listening. I know that NPR may seem liberal to some, but I feel like the discussions are usually pretty balanced. Besides it's good for a conservative (who does not wholly identify with either major party) like me to not discount the other side until I know what they have to say. Anyway, I was listening to Public Radio International's "The World" on NPR and I heard this segment on "The Politics of Poetry." I was very struck by one of the poems that was read and so I am going to post it.

If Politicians Were Trees

If only politicians
were trees
we would have
much more protection;
the air
we breathe, our breeze
would be
so much freer of
sorry, i mean, pollution ...

If only politicians
were trees
we would have nothing
to fear;
we could bask in
their shade
while our children
carefree from branches ...

If only politicians
were trees
think how our budgets
& diets
would be balanced;
their fruit
flower, roots & leaves
give such rich sustenance ...
And what a bonus it
would be
if we, their constituents
hack them down
each time
they became a nuisance ...
If only politicians were trees!

Cecil Rajendra from Shrapnel Silence and Sand ....
1999, Bogle L'Ouverture Press, London

You can listen to Cecil Rajendra, the author of this poem, read it aloud on the link above. Rajendra is actually a lawyer in Malaysia and most of his cases are handled pro bono. Interesting guy. You can read more about him here.

I don't usually like to post about my political views. Mostly because I want to keep my friends. I was raised on politics. I remember vividly having a discussion with my dad in the 5th grade about what a constiuancy was, attending Chino Unified school board meetings during a financial scandal, and holding a sign protesting fireworks in front of a fireworks stand. Anyone who lives in Chino Hills, especially in Carbon Canyon, knows that dry hills and fireworks are a bad combination. Anyway, this poem really stuck a chord with me. I have heard many people theorize why my generation is so politically indifferent. I know that there has been a lot of excitement about the Democratic Nomination race, but in reality, most people my age don't vote. I think I know why. The entire political arena is disillusioning. When I voted in the last Presidential Election, I felt like I was choosing between the lesser of two evils. The pool of candidates consists of the elite rich who can afford to run. Period. I think many in my generation just don't care. I think many of us have been jaded by the self-serving motives of many politicians. Think of the recent political scandals of the past year, or 10 years. Besides, in all reality, Ben Bernake and the other 12 people who sit on the Fed have a much more powerful effect on our lives than President Bush, well, unless you are in the armed forces. I agree with Rajendra, I wish that the government was for the people, by the people. The way in was originally written in our inspired Constitution.


Tyler Ball said...

I also listen to NPR quite a bit. I actually time my mornings around 'Writers' Almanac' (as in, 'Writers' Almanac is on, I've got 2 minutes). Our favorite show is 'Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me.' It's a news quiz show on Saturdays, and it's hilarious. But, man I'm with you. I hate politicians.

Amanda said...

Oops, that was me. But Tyler likes NPR too.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

Calling NPR liberal is like calling tap water cold. Yes, it's chillier than hot cocoa or a cup of coffee, but it's not cold the way smoothies, milk shakes, and the moons of Saturn are cold. It's just a happy medium most of us can agree on.

Of course, if you expect every drink to be hot enough to take the roof off your mouth, then yeah, I guess tap water's downright frigid.

Alex Gallafent said...

Hi Caitlin,

Thanks for posting about my poetry story from PRI's The World. Glad you liked it (or at least the politicians-as-trees poem..)

Would you mind creating a link to The World where you mention it? It'd be really helpful.

If were feeling particularly generous, you could find room for my name 'Alex Gallafent' and my blog '', but no pressure. Narcissism ought to have limits!

Thanks and all best,