Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Role of Poets in Politics

In case you've been living under a rock, I'd like to inform you that the country is currently in the midst of a federal election campaign.

Before you stumble out of your armchair in shock, try to maintain a firm grip on your beverage and listen for a moment. I know that there's been not a whole lot said about the campaign so far. There was a great hullabaloo around the time the election was called, and since then things have been relatively quiet (at least as far as campaigns go). This is because you, wisely, are more concerned with office Christmas parties and picking up the latest Xbox for your kid that with whatever policy statement the Party Leader Of The Day is pronouncing from a podium at some rubber chicken luncheon in The Pas. However, be forewarned that shortly after New Year's Day you will be subjected to a steady onslaught of negative campaigning as well as furious attempts from the parties to secure your vote on Election Day.

By the way, that's January 23. Try not to break your neck on the ice that day and get to the polls.

As a poet, and more importantly as a keen student of history, election campaigns are fascinating to me. I know, that probably makes me That Weirdo you remember from high school, talking about policy in reverent terms (as if intimate knowledge of the Liberal position on climate change will help secure a date with the hottest woman in the class). But I'm stoked. Sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable. I've had scorn heaped on me before. Fire away if you must.

But this is a seriously strange time in the country's political evolution. Minority government is the order of the decade as Parliament remains splintered, and no party appears strong enough to command the confidence of the House on their own. With the longest election period in years and a large dose of instability, just about anything could happen.

And I am about to find myself in the thick of it all. I will be working on the campaign of Alexa McDonough for the duration of the campaign. As an artist, this will provide me with an unbelievable amount of material for all kinds of poetry. As a citizen, it gives me a front-row seat on how the political process really works. And as a working person, it provides me with a new experience that will fundamentally alter the way I approach employment. I'm sure of all of this.

In the meantime, I encourage all of you to check in frequently on my Ruminations blog to keep up-to-date on what I'm doing. I'm also hopeful that my Halifax excursion will prove fruitful from a creative standpoint, and that much poetry will be available for you when I get back.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your holidays ... read my blog ... and see you next year!

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