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Marina Kim: Zac Goldsmith – poet. Douglas Carswell – poet. The importance of poetry in politics.

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 11.13.50Marina Kim is a Kazakhstan-born journalist now living and working in London. Her website is  Follow Marina on Twitter.

John Kennedy: If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live...When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. 

There are two types of politicians: actors and poets. To hell with Labour, Tory or LibDem labels. They are just different houses where actors and poets live. Actors vs. poets – that should be the ultimate division for modern day politics where parties have grown so identical we can only find their differences some time before Doomsday.

Actors are career politicians who play politics as a job and repeat a written script. Their theatre has an agenda with the ultimate goal of hearing you clap (think: next election). You are watching the play because you have no choice: you selected the cast and have to endure a seat in the front row (or a “welfare seat” at the back), and they are on stage for the next 5 years. Boris is popular with the audience because – albeit an actor – he is a funny one. And his genuine remarks are so inappropriate that it looks like he was casted by accident. Perhaps, he is a poet at heart after all.

If another theatrical troupe stages a play on a more topical matter (think UKIP) the main stage act quickly re-adjusts the script so you don’t leave the audience. The problem is: it doesn’t feel real, and with every new play the number of empty seats of people bored with bullshit increases.

If you approach politics as a true artist does – not a commercial artist, but a true artist who is eager to work long hours for an idea – you will find nothing in common with the actors who surround you. You’d probably rather sit in the audience chewing popcorn and throwing rotten eggs at this tedious clique. You despise them and want to prove you are different.  You are in politics but you are a poet!

Pseudo-poets and actor politicians have a lot in common. Both are brilliant with words. Both speak about current affairs: political and amorous.  Both hide the truth in multilayered complicated verses that nobody understands. Some politicians can even quote you a poem or two, just to prove to you they are in touch with their inner selves. But that’s not a proof of anything if their quotes are without integrity. The ability to talk the talk eloquently or rhyme the words in a complicated way doesn’t make you a poet. The truth does.

A real poet – thank you Wikipedia - is someone who “evokes meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning”, someone who looks deeper through the muddy water and tells us what he sees at the bottom. Poetry unleashes the truth within you, and you cannot stop it. You cannot be a true poet without being true to yourself. A real poet is the one who has the quest for truth as the fundamental pivot of their being. It is important to remember that the truth might not necessarily be a conventional truth. You must be true to your beliefs - whatever these beliefs might be - and not scared to stand up for them.

A Poet and the Authorities: always rivals. A poet will never find it easy to agree with everything the Authorities are stating as the truth, if it contradicts his beliefs. He allows himself to think. Actors play passion, poets are passionate. Hence why it is very hard to be a poet in a dominant political clique of actors.

Who are the modern poets of politics? Caroline Lucas has genuine convictions and chose an untrodden but greener path to Parliament instead of asphalted highways of other parties. Tom Harris speaks his mind, and whose own party suspects he is a Tory because he often disagrees with the party line.

Zac Goldsmith is definitely a poet. He fights for what he believes in, stands up to Cameron when he disagrees with him and often rebels against the whip.  Douglas Carswell is also freeminded and rebellious enough to be a poet. He is for a smaller state, and poets have always hated big state dominance.

“Poverty czar” Frank Field was the first member of the Labour Party with a role within Cameron's coalition team, this appointment alone speaks for itself. The man has a voice of his own that is respected.

Poetry is not only important in politics. It is fundamental for the soul and has to be a dominating subject in the school curriculum. It brings out sensitivity and empathy. Two qualities that make you sympathize with your fellow human beings. Prose is good for the mind while poetry is useful for the soul. I am talking about that kind of poetry that shakes up your beliefs, makes you ask questions, removes the ethical vacuum, allows you not to think or speak in clichés. Bringing truthful poetry into every aspect of life from politics to media, to debates, and to schools is important for our sleepy souls to wake up. 


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