A poetic politician? Hard to believe….

I try not to write about politics here, but I am always willing to write about efforts to resist the anti-intellectualism that is dominant in the United States today. Columnist Ben Macintyre, writing for the London Times, has uncovered poetry which was written by Barack Obama “for a college magazine at the age of 19.” Macintyre’s assessment of the poems? — “Surprisingly good.” Apparently even Harold Bloom, the critic who is the self-proclaimed guardian of the “Western canon,” likes Obama’s poetry. Hillary Clinton, while not a poet herself, at least has no less than Maya Angelou to write poetry in her defense. Link to Timesarticle.

For the record, Macintyre reprints one of the 19-year-old Obama’s poems:


Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken
In, sprinkled with ashes,
Pop switches channels, takes another
Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks
What to do with me, a green young man
Who fails to consider the
Flim and flam of the world, since
Things have been easy for me.

No it’s not Maya Angelou, but yes, Obama’s poem is “surprisingly good” — and, given the current anti-intellectualism of the political scene, I find it utterly surprising that a U.S. politician even cares about poetry. We can only hope that this will start a trend of U. S. politicians aspiring to be smart and well-educated, instead of aspiring to be badly-educated corporate hacks.

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