Monday, April 23, 2012

'Redefining Liberal Values' - Ian Parks, Poet and Writing Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester

As a poet, I see myself as embracing liberal values in the broadest sense. I believe that poetry is, in itself, a form of liberal expression, in that it can articulate ideas of freedom, social equality, respect for diversity, and a celebration of the human spirit, in a language that has the potential to be non-political in the narrowest sense. My poems have appeared regularly in The Liberal magazine along with articles dealing with contemporary issues and I feel very strongly that poetry has a social function to perform at the beginning of the twenty-first century. At a time when the language of liberalism is being appropriated by both the marketplace and the political elite, poetry has the qualities that can help restore that language to its proper place, encouraging as it does receptiveness and open-mindedness on the part of the reader. I also feel that poetry appeals with the best in the human spirit. An admirer of the poetry of W. H. Auden, I would, however, strongly disagree with his conclusion that ‘poetry makes nothing happen’. Poetry, I think, has the potential to work powerfully in the political sphere although its trajectory might not be easy to trace. I feel that poetry has a part to play in an ongoing debate about what it means to be human, to participate in a free and open society, to appeal to the generosity of spirit which is so firmly rooted in the Liberal Tradition. It has a part to play also, I believe, in the redefining of liberal values.

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