Looking for Native Poets

Promote local artists and embrace the artistic expressions of your particular community which already exist.

Okay, why?

When The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came out in 2005 I found the most moving part to be the opening footage of English countryside. England has this kind of mystique for me, and why? Because it is so much and so well described by her native authors. A friend of mine said “People do not love their own place until it is described by poets.” My experience plays this out; the parts of America I reverence the most (yet have never seen!) are the parts that appear in the poems and novels I love: Alcott’s Massachusetts, Millay’s Maine, Twain’s Mississippi River, Cather’s Nebraska. Living for half a year in a remote Italian village, I was constantly surprised by the local patriotism people had for their village. “Don’t you love our village? Isn’t it the most beautiful place you’ve ever been? Don’t we have the best food? Don’t you want to settle down and raise a family here?” I couldn’t imagine feeling that strongly about where I’ve lived in America. I found the reverence wholesome, and myself lacking. When I read Wendell Berry about Kentucky, I ask: “What if I knew my own place and loved it and could describe it the way he does?”

Someone needs to write that kind of thing about where I live, think I. Who will worry about maintaining buildings, cultivating fields, curbing crime, dealing with trash, etc. in a place they do not care about? Who will remain past childhood or beyond the time they may hold a lucrative job there? This might be the reason so many Americans move around. What holds them to their native county?

But while hoping for poets for one's native county and reading about the Thames and merry old Nottingham, what about researching whether there are poets for one's native land?

A checklist: In my state, town, or county are there:
  • Poets. Read their poems.

  • Authors. Read their novels.

  • Local foods or special ingredients that could become the foundations of new local foods. Try them.

  • Local songs and music. Learn and sing them.

  • And to assist all this, ascertain:
  • What are the local flora and fauna, especially trees, birds, and edible plants. Learn them. And eat the edible plants.

  • Where are the local beautiful things: the fine houses, or good farms, the covered bridge, or excellent trail. Go there.

  • When are the good local festivals—ones that celebrate and feature things native to your area (not Medieval or Renaissance or Celtic festivals, not Global culture festivals). Go to them.


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