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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Economist, Poet, Historian: Introduction

Economist, Poet, Historian: Introduction

For the next several weeks, I will be exploring the relationship between the Economist, the Poet, and the Historian. As you know, I have written rather extensively about the two sides of my mind as embodied in the tension between the Poet and the Economist. My poetry site, in fact, is called "PoetEconomist" for this very reason. I have used this simple binary as a totem to my creative output and general worldview. In short, the Poet has represented my soulful and lyrical side; the Economist my logical and structured. I have prided myself on what I've considered a clever new dialectic. I have allowed this dialectic to, in a simple site-byte, give my readers a quick and rather uncomplicated way to characterize what I do.

At least that's what I thought.

At a recent event at which I was invited to participate as a poet, but based on my credentials as the author of Momentitiousness, I found myself clarifying what the PoetEconomist avatar really means. It was a continuation of a two-minute conversation that I was lucky enough to start--but never finish--amidst a TV interview during National Poetry Month. Of course, this is the parsing that cannot occur in a matter of seconds.

What PoetEconomist is not:

  • I am not a "rich" poet. While this may, on some surfaces, seem sufficient to understanding my poetry, it is like describing a window as "glass." Windows are so much more than just their composition. Most importantly, I think, windows are ways to see outside from inside or inside from outside. They are most valuable when opened, when the glass of the window is actually absent.
  • I do not write poetry "about" economics. Though economics interacts with culture and society on both macro and micro levels, and though culture and society on both macro and micro levels ARE what I write about, rest assured that I have not written odes to Efficiency Theory or limericks about Laffer Curves. Granted, the ideas that underlie the cultural trends that can be explained in economic terms are there all over the place. The window is far more than its parts; it is not merely a pane, sill, sash. Even if the parts of a window are points of meditation, they must be recognized as both parts and whole.
  • I am not an Economist who writes poetry. Though my formal intellectual and academic training (I have degrees) is in Economics, that is not my singular worldview. I do not go to an office each day, hold the world constant, and then drop that stillness into verse.However, I do go to an office, from that office I hold the world constant, and in that stillness I find verse. See the difference? See the window there?
What PoetEconomist is:
  • A Process.

The next installment in this series will address, in greater detail, this process. 

Stay Tuned.

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