What is news about an economist doing on a blog about poetry? Because occasionally, I find something that I believe is so important, everyone should hear it and know it. This is one of those things – not just the announcement about the award of a Nobel Peace Prize, but the person and organization that was chosen, and the reason for choosing it. Because this was a socially conscious choice, a choice that speaks to a new awareness among people that there is more to peace than stopping war. There are issues of basic human dignity and human rights involved. There are issues of poverty and injustice and whether or not it is fair that a woman in Bangladesh is trying to support her family on wages that could not support a flea while a 15 year old in the US can serve food at McDonald”s and make more money in a week than the Bangladeshi will see in a year. Because human dignity is intertwined with the ability to support oneself and provide for one”s family, and all of that is intertwined with the quest for world peace.
And because poetry IS a socially conscious art. It can move mountains, given a chance. It can reawaken dignity in someone who thought it was long lost. Because I enjoy them, I attend a lot of open mikes in slam venues, and listen to an awful awful awful lot of poetry (which isn”t awful at all). And I hear a LOT of political rants, some of which qualify as poetry. What I seldom hear and would love to hear far more of is positive political poetry, poetry that celebrates and offers solutions and rallies people to those solutions. I salute Muhammad Yunus and his concept of a bank that offers human dignity by providing the means for a person to rise above poverty and provide for himself and his family. And I would sincerely love to hear and read more poetry that celebrates the sort of spirit that led to the founding of the Grameen Bank in 1976. It”s a worthy subject for fine poetry.