Who knew that 60’s-era Presidential semi-hopeful Eugene McCarthy was a practicing poet? I had no idea. I didn’t know much about this maverick Senator from Minnesota, except that he apparently played the “Howard Dean role” in the 1968 Presidential election. He represented Americans who vigorously objected to the Vietnam War, caused a lot of ruckus, didn’t even come close to winning the Democratic Party nomination, and watched his party lose the election from the sidelines.
The Dean parallels end there, though; the Vermont governor became famous for uttering loud pirate-like noises at televised campaign rallies, whereas the Minnesota senator (whose death was reported this weekend) preferred quietly quoting the likes of Plutarch, Shelley and Whitman, as well as reciting his own poems at political events. You can check out some of his verses here … he was no John Ashbery, as far as I can see, but there’s an appealing Ted Kooser kind of vibe to the stuff, and it’s clear his heart was in the right place. Thanks to Syntax for the tipoff.
Speaking of hearts that no longer beat … I don’t know if Richard Pryor considered himself a writer, but he was certainly poetry in motion. “That’s right … we bad …“