Poem - Poetry Permit

Background

In the lead up to world poetry day I was working on a project with someone living under a repressive regime... after much too-ing and fro-ing the Ministry of Culture in that country declined the proposal.

BTW: I own ministryofculture.us so anyone interested in some light propaganda work please contact me :-)

Drax

Security outside the Ministry of Culture, Washington..... circa 2009
Security outside the Ministry of Culture, Washington..... circa 2009

I went down to the Ministry of Culture to get a poetry permit,
an XXL US Marshall stopped me at the door.
The poetry section closes at 2.00, he said,
glaringly, making me conscious of the P stuck on my breast,
laser marked on my forehead and in ultra large arial on my back.
In that moment I was lost, my purpose in life thwarted,
the american military culture police on every corner,
in every small town in the world.
A phalanx of fear formed around me, I wandered apart,
the hooded populace inoculated against poet contamination,
truth almost eradicated.
A poem content application form, held prisoner-like,
an orange beacon in my hand.
I had agonised over the title,
seeing the surly censors scissor snip.
'Clouds of Freedom' gelded to 'Clouds Of' or just 'Clouds',
or more likely a Prohibition Notice issued for poet 181155drax-i
and any poems on the subject of cloud freedom,
anytime in the future.
I thought of my superb collection of prohibition notices
and in another world saw a book;-
‘Prohibition Notices 2005-2007 Vol I’
New York March 17th 2007.
the stark nakedness of poem titles, alone on a page,
driving underground readers to a frenzy of released imagination,
Imagine all the People or Imagine all the police,
tapping their bully clubs in unison.
global poetry slam american equals;-
beatings leading to the loss of mental faculties,
short rations via reduced food coupons,
restricted movement allowances,
another entry on the culture police electronic tagged identity card,
and the endless torture…
of silence…

.

..

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7 comments

jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 9 years ago from Scotland

hope you have a permit to use that keyboard drax lol.....jimmy


Drax profile image

Drax 9 years ago from NYC.... Author

oh jaysus Jimmy, I had to do the washing and the tax reporting and didn't get to the keyboard permit office in time... thanks man...


Kathy 9 years ago

Ironically, the US is among the least regulated and bureaucratized country, with fewer permits, regulations, ministries than the EU. I know it's fashionable to criticize everything possible about the US, but it would certainly make sense to look a little deeper and see what's happening under your very nose. (Can we say "EU directive"? What's the curvature of bananas and milk content of chocolate again?)

I find the concept of a Ministry of Culture laughable (the government regulating the culture of a country?), but then again, I'm a Yank.


jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 9 years ago from Scotland

think yourself lucky guys lol in the uk we need a licence to watch tv.....jimmy


Drax profile image

Drax 9 years ago from NYC.... Author

Well unverified person 'Kathy' I was born and lived in Europe and lived there longer than here, also I was raised throughout the Irish Troubles and I can tell you that there are more rules and regulations here than there... sure it is possible to pick outlandish examples of Euro beauracracy, these exist anywhere there is Government employees with nothing to do with their time.

Ministries of Culture exist in many countries, usually their role is to 'promote' the culture of their particular country though occasionally they stray into regulating. It is a very fine line, I suppose this is the 'message' of the poem, the fine line between a Government doing want it wants on the international stage, regardless of human rights, conventions or international law and then waking up one day and deciding lets do the same shit at home.... It might be useful for you to look at the abuses the current US Administration is perpetrating on a daily basis....

It is somewhat ironic that this country is held up as a beacon of freedom when all along it has been highly repressive. You only have to look back at the McCarthy era to see how the Govt impacted the cultural life by denying talented artists 'suspected' of communist belief the right to perform... likewise in the 60's..


Kathy 9 years ago

Sorry, I thought you were in Ireland. A lot of the red tape you might have to jump through might be because you're a foreigner here, but native there. But to compare apples to apples, I think there is far more bureaucracy in Europe than in the U.S. If there ever were one to force poets to apply for permits, my suspicion is that would be in the E.U., not the U.S. (although I suppose we'll just have to wait and see; thankfully, neither has tried!)

I think the government picking and choosing what and how to promote its culture is ridiculous...and dangerous. Who decides what about Irish (or any other) culture is promoted abroad? Are you that busy criticizing the US government to not notice an overreach by your own government into your own cultural affairs?

Although your poem's topic had to do with freedom of expression and bureaucracy, again, it's not surprising to stray into human rights abuses, abuses of international law, etc., which, while true, have become so fashionable to bring up in every possible forum and thread (regardless of relevance) that it's becoming noise. That's sad because these are important issues, but I suspect fatigue is setting in. I don't think there is a single American who does not think about what his/her country is doing. I also think most non-Americans are "gently" reminding Americans to do what they are already doing so much that they ignore what is going on in their own countries.

Are you suggesting that the U.S. hasn't learned from the McCarthy Era? Do you believe that same environment exists today? The only parallel I can see today is Gonzales's firing of judges, but that was strictly political (and not cultural) and the pressure is overwhelmingly against him and the Bush Administration...

At any rate, I do like your poetry and appreciate your sentiments. But what is the purpose of art other than reflection and discussion? I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to engage with the artist himself.

Your "unverified" fan,

Kathy


Drax profile image

Drax 9 years ago from NYC.... Author

Kathy

thank you for your comments, I enjoy interacting directly without anyone who takes the time and trouble to read anything I write, so thank you for taking the time. With regard to unverified I suppose this is my hubcentric bias, my apologies, why not join us and then I can ‘comment’ on your hubs, hubpages are so user friendly.

Perhaps what is different to Ireland and here is that to a large extent we ignore the sillier laws and have a healthy disregard for authority. We, the people, elect the Government and they are never allowed to forget that. We also have a high degree of accessibility to our politicians, there is also a multi party system, Proportional Representation and Ministerial responsibility, all of which serve to keep the politicos in line. I've been a green card holder for 12 years or more and have almost the same rights as a citizen, however it always seems to be me as the only person in the line asking why and this brings me into conflict with Govt stupidity.

There are a number of individual points within your response that we could debate at length however suffice to say that this Administration has not budged one inch to reflect the change of power in the House or in response to world opinion. In fact if anything they continue to go the other direction. Fatigue set in here long long ago as evidenced by the percentages of people who vote and the willingness to accept outrageous examples of social injustice in terms of the poor, housing, jobs, health, education - in many regards this country has been sliding towards third world levels for a number of years.

It is no argument to point to what is happening or not happening in other democracies. America has for years held the (self-appointed) position as the champion of global democracy so is in no position to act in contravention of international law. The polyglot nature of this society should, in theory, lead to expanded tolerance both at national and international levels yet the opposite prevails with an ongoing transition towards fascism. Again there are a number of examples of the type of overt Govt activity comparable to the McCarthy era and if at all possible I will address this separately in a politico hubpage.

Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, said;-”What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music.”

Whilst any poet could only aspire to create the beautiful music that Kierkegaard speaks about the anguish is easy given the current state of the world…

In the final analysis I comfort myself with the words of Plato ….Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history….

Regards and thanks

Drax

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