1. two three four … / what are we fighting for? 2. Is poetry’s role to keep open a human possibility until all may join? Isn’t that what the confounders sought? 3. “Election” means something like the state or act of picking out or choosing. 4. An election illuminates the space between us. 5. “Election” shares the same cognate (Latin eligere) with “elite,” meaning “chosen people,” the adjectival use of which Byron introduced into English in a passage in Don Juan (Canto 13) recounting a party:
With other Countesses of Blank — but rank; At once the “lie” and the “elite” of crowds; Who pass like water filter’d in a tank, All purged and pious from their native clouds …
IN THE first election year that mattered to me, 1968, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, my country killed hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia, and Richard Nixon was elected president. In the decades that followed, I have always been unhappy with the leadership and direction of this country, usually very unhappy.
I was born a believer in peace. I say fight for the right. Be a martyr and live. Be a coward and die.
— Susan B. Anthony speaking in Gertrude Stein’s “The Mother of Us All”
WE WERE commissioned to produce, in whatever form or scope we saw fit, this multipart series of commentaries to run from now into November on poetry and the election, bracing for and/or embracing the November 3 vote.
Poetry and the 2020 election