I would say Gary Snyder, who is from my part of the world as a poet and environmental thinker, will be read just as Henry Thoreau as John Muir will continue to be read.
You begin to see that all of these things are connected: The kind of cuts that mean less environmental protection are also the kind of cuts that mean less musical education for the schools and that also mean more overcrowded schools.
Not to make too much of a claim for poetry, but this is a question that goes to the moral heart of the business of any art: 'How do you see the world, and what right do you have to see the world in the way that you do?
I teach a lecture course on American poetry to as many as 150 students. For a lot of them, it's their only elective, so this is their one shot. They'll take the Russian Novel or American Poetry, so I want to give them the high points, the inescapable poets.
I think that the job of poetry, its political job, is to refresh the idea of justice, which is going dead in us all the time.
The Vietnam War and the Iraq war, in different ways, both made me feel like I could not not address them. I'm very doubtful about the usefulness of poetry to do that.
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