Haki Madhubuti’s “For the Consideration of Poets”

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African-American poet and author Haki Madhubuti published Run Toward Fear in 2004, where this short poem first appeared. As its title suggests, the poem seems written to challenge poets and writers and shame much poetry and writing being published today in magazines, newspapers, and literary journals. In simple language–the poem is just two short questions–the speaker asks each of us to consider something else in our writing: “a poetry of resistance,” as it is put it in the poem’s opening line. Where is it? Great writers question the validity of what they are writing about and, especially, how they are writing frequently, and Madhubuti reminds us (with a not so gentle slap in the face) that even writers (should) have a responsibility to defy and resist whatever they don’t ethically agree with. Probably an even more important lesson to ponder today.

For the Consideration of Poets


where is the poetry of resistance,
the poetry of honorable defiance
unafraid of lies from career politicians and business men,
not respectful of journalist who write
official speak void of educated thought
without double search or sub surface questions
that war talk demands?
where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion
not in the service of the state, bishops and priests,
not in the service of beautiful people and late night promises,
not in the service of influence, incompetence and academic
clown talk?

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