Outgoing New York Times executive editor Bill Keller has been mercilessly critiqued for his foray into writing Times magazine columns. And today, as if preempting criticism, he admits that his latest column idea doesn't seem all that great on first glance: it's about how Congress should read more poetry. "Pause here while I acknowledge the rolling of eyes," he writes, "My own editor allowed, when I told him what I wanted to propose, that the idea raised 'a tiny, very, very small red flag,' presumably about my need for a little vacation. Poetry? Congress? Really." But Keller persisted:
Poetry is no substitute for courage or competence, but properly applied, it is a challenge to self-certainty, which we currently have in excess. Poetry serves as a spur to creative thinking, a rebuke to dogma and habit, an antidote to the current fashion for pledge signing.
And Keller enlisted Book Review poetry columnist David Orr to prescribe a few poems for congressmen interested in pursuing the idea: two of which are the aptly named "At a Standstill" by Samuel Menashe and "Patience, Though I Have Not" by Sir Thomas Wyatt. Head over to check out the full argument.