Again, this conversation comes up in Poets of Color class, in this case, as regards the poetry we’ve just read in The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, edited by Francisco Aragón.
Or, I should say, I bring up “political poetry” all the time in class, as we discuss stretching the boundaries of the term and the criteria by which we deem a work as political. Paul Martínez Pompa’s “Bones,” about a you who is on his/her feet all day at work in a grocery store, whose 52 bones of the feet hum, each with its own pain, when the you finally gets a moment to sit. “While Late Capitalism,” in its specific form, reflecting the crush of dying bodies of undocumented Mexican workers, expendable commodities in this economy. “Want,” slowing down to a crawl a scene of day laborers sweltering as they await without guarantee the truck that could take them to a day of construction work. The Dr. Seuss rhymes of Urayoán Noel’s “Kool Logic,” ridiculing our culture of capitalism-on-steroids, how we not only accept such ridiculous consumerism, but desire to become commodities, beautiful and happy by late capitalism’s distorted standard of beauty and happiness.
These are not “protest poems,” the poems which immediately call us to action, but still, we agree these poems are political.