*Third World Congress of Poets
By poetry as spirit I mean poetry as representing the spirit of man. A
poem is a material thing but a poem may have spiritual overtones, the best
poems of an age increasing the spiritual heritage of man. I locate poetry
in struggle, spiritual struggle to realize oneself and to communicate poetic
realization as the highest quality of the self, which may become a manifestation
of the dreams, hopes, and despairs of a society and a time.
A world congress of poets is a material body, but from this body may
arise its spirit, imponderable, unevaluated, diffuse, the intellectual emanations of
its members spreading out, world-reaching.
I think that since the world has shrunk due to space communication and
since instant realizations of intelligence can be known by satellite), poetry
should expand its borders and be universally known. It should not be limited
to being known to one country, or one part of one country. The poets in
each country should know the poetry of many other countries as well as their
own. Nationalism should be superseded by internationalism. Whereas Dante
spoke for his Italy, Shakespeare for his England, Lope de Vega for his Spain
a future world should produce a world poet who would comprehend the feelings of
people in all nations to write a compendious body of work which will become
The point of a world congress of poetry such as this is to break down
national and ideational barriers and to assert that not only can all peoples
understand each other if they try but that poets should envision and try to
enact a world view of their art. If we can fly from Paris to Washington in
three hours and a half there is no reason why poets cannot have perceptions
of poets in distant lands as if they were close to them in their own country.
I do not think such awareness would defeat individualism, but it could erase
provincialism. A world poetry shared by poets of all nations would increase
the stability of man's spirit by making this spirit more nearly universal due
Baltimore June 13-27, 1976
to this respect for his fellow man, his belief in the possibility of a brotherhood
and sisterhood of all rren and vwomn. The spirits of the nations would leap
together toward a spiritual union of nankind, which would then have universal
poets to tell them how potent they are and that poetry as spirit is realizable.
I have just announced a plan that is impracticalL, unrealistic, and
imJrobable, based on too idealistic a picture of the nature of man. However,
since to dream, to imagine new worlds is a characteristic of poets, let this
be one of mine, and maybe one of yours.
2 r ^.