Sunday, October 26, 2008

Politics and Writing

When I started this blog, I knew it would be writings on many different subjects. Since my main passion is writing, I knew that would be the biggest focus.

With the current political environment in this country, however, I have found that everything to date has been about politics. This bothered me at first as, yes, I am interested and involved in politics - and am definitely opinionated - but I thought I had drifted from my main focus.

Turns out that it is hard to not talk about politics right now. There is so much going on, so many things that are bothersome, and we have a country that is in such turmoil in so many crucial areas. How can someone not speak up about this? Especially a wordsmith?

One of the places I love most in my city is The Loft Literary Center. The Loft is a great place for writers - they have classes, workshops, great writing studios, and are adjacent to Minnesota Book Arts. It is an environment very conducive and supportive to writers.

In the latest issue of the Loft's paper, "A View from the Loft," the front page article is titled "The Loft: Then and Now." I remember the old place...a small building in St. Paul where people sat on the floor and an idea to unite writers grew into a full blown literary center. When they moved to downtown Minneapolis, it became the center it is today - a dream to the writing community.

As I read the article, I realized that the political connection to writing has always been there. As Jim Moore states in the article, in the 1970's the environment wasn't all that different:

"We assumed that there was a strong connection between what was happening politically in the country and what was happening in the artistic world. It made perfect sense to those of us who were involved with the Loft at its beginning that if we saw policies or institutions that were inimical to artistic and literary freedom, we would oppose them....At that time, what we loved about the period was that we felt we had the right to speak out and that in speaking out we might make a difference."
After all, how does any creative person not speak out when our rights are threatened? If someone like our current Republican vice presidential candidate gets into office, think of what could happen to our rights - both creatively (she already tried to ban certain books in her hometown) to women's rights (which she doesn't seem to support at all). We don't all have the same beliefs - everyone is different. Truth is, freedom also includes artistic freedom and to remove that with any sort of censorship or barriers is not only stifling but isn't what this country is based on. Writers know this and we are always listening. As Mr. Moore states:
"Without quite knowing what we were doing, we were listening, almost unconsciously, to what was happening all around us. That is what writers do, of course."
Writers indeed observe, comment, and live things twice. We ruminate over things, we discuss things, and we write our thoughts down. To a creative person to have that threatened takes away our individual right to free expression.

I may not be a starving artist, but I'm not rich either.
The last eight years have left everything in a mess and most of us hurting financially in some way or another. Everyone I know is craving an intelligent, educated leader that represents true change. It is time an administration looked out for regular people - be it a painter, a musician, and, yes, a writer. America is a rich country made up of a diverse group of people. It is time we celebrated the differences and expressions and gave everyone a fair chance to obtain their dreams.

1 comment:

Strong said...

"God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say: 'This is my country.'"

-- Benjamin Franklin