Poets and Political Power

I’m really interested to see the results of the Poetry Coalition’s project “What is it, then, between us?: Poetry & Democracy.” I heard about it through MassPoetry’s call for participants, and while I didn’t get my submission in on time, I’m looking forward to reading and admiring the artistic erasure poems created from some iconic speeches and texts. These included selections from the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, Dr. King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” and the speech “Our books and our pens are the most powerful weapons,” which Malala Yousafzai delivered to the UN. Selected entries will be installed on the MBTA and other public locations, which should be a more thought-provoking set of signage than the usual T ads. I’d love to be able to overhear the discussions such things might generate on the Orange Line or elsewhere!

I enjoyed reading all the selections and while I was afraid it would be hard to pick, ultimately one stood out for me above all the others. I chose a piece from the Constitution which originally details how various kinds of powers are distributed between the executive and legislative branches of government, but thought that what was most evocative (and necessary, currently), was a reminder about those powers which are given to the President–but only temporarily. Since I didn’t submit mine, I’m sharing it here:

Constitutional Reminder

A Reminder

The President shall be
in the actual Service of the United States;
and he shall have Power.

He shall have Power, by and with
Advice and Consent.

The President shall have Power
which shall expire.

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