by Mike Bee

A very fine article has recently appeared on Substack, written by the U.S. and New Zealand doctor, Emmanuel Garcia. It is called Is Poetry Still Possible in Our Covid Age?, and it gave me much to think about.

Dr Garcia looks back on his early life and the inspiration that flowed into him then – on the one side, from live performances of some of the great rock musicians of the times (he had a “neighbourhood knack” of knowing how to sneak into the local venue where they played) and, on the other, through live classical music concerts by the Philadelphia Orchestra and some of the big name soloists and conductors in the musical world.

These two influences came together to fuel his great love for the word; he realised that he was himself to the maximum when he was engaged in creating art – in particular, for him, writing poetry. The professional career that he followed would try to put him into a straight-jacket, but poetry was his release from that.

He contrasts what was possible for him in his youth to the situation of young people today. Where do they find the inspiration that gave his soul the wings to see that there were ways to escape the barren landscape of utilitarian existence? And, especially in this age of covid, what is the fate of the creative human spirit that strives for transcendence in creative expression?

“Yet I wonder, in the wake of covid, with its aftermath of threat, and in the world that both spawned this deceitful pandemic and finely tuned its instruments of control, whether poetry of any sort may be possible.

“Creation requires freedom — of thought, fancy and whim — and freedom of thought and fancy is precisely what our burgeoning Security State most abhors. Every technological advance enhances the power of the Security State’s ability to restrict and to surveil.

“When the iron heel of the State becomes a ubiquitous choking web of 15 minute cities, social credit monitoring, forced medical interventions and other emergency measures for the ‘inevitable’ next so-called pandemic, is poetry possible? Can the human spirit feel free enough to create anything while the noxious fumes of globalist control and murder — yes, murder — predominate?”

I would like a young person to answer this, but I can speak for one of Dr Garcia’s generation and give my own reply. For me, the realisation that I was living in an age of such great conflict, in which the whole future of humanity hung in the balance, was a powerful impulse that sent me a great boost of inspiration. Misguided as I may have been, I felt that I was plunging into the fray as a warrior for the word!

I remember how it happened – how, in the year 2020, when I knew instinctively that a very great fraud was being committed against the peoples of the Earth and could not understand how others could not see it, that I at first became paralysed.

I can look back to what I wrote then, and the poems speak of the journey I took. The block was solved through poetry. Although for a long time there was to be little opportunity to share this poetry with others, the simple act of writing out of my own sense of who I was and what I was perceiving, gave my soul its freedom. From this came the strong desire to pit my strength against the whole totalitarian apparatus, humanity versus the machine. This became the great theme of much of the writing that came after.

Dr Garcia ponders in his essay the question of the future of poetry:

“I find myself asking whether, in this uniquely oppressive environment of facial recognition, bank account invasion, and globally mandated directives ostensibly designed to preserve our ‘health’ while keeping us under a supranational thumb, poetry is possible anymore. Whether the caprice and imagination and the challenging questions of a genuine art can be realized and pursued despite a tyrannical environment of unprecedented reach.”

To the doctor’s significant questions, I can only answer ‘yes’. In my case, pitting myself against a monstrous enemy, I came to feel the stirrings of new capacities and a greater awareness of my immortal spirit.

If the ideas of psychotic globalists hold sway and we are all confined in 15-minute cities, then poetry will not survive, and poets will either learn to keep quiet or be swept away into the state gulags of their various countries, never to be heard from again. But we are not yet at that point – we are witnessing a profound resurgence from a growing number of men and women around the world, and many of us are aware that we have good reason to believe that the psychopaths are losing the battle they have picked against humanity. Fighting in such a battle, I find to be extremely conducive for the writing of poetry. There are periods that are unpleasant and grim, but there are also times of solidarity when one realises how one is part of the most important event that has ever taken place in the last 2,000 years. It is inspiring to be playing a small role among so many great warriors who have put their lives onto the line to ensure that humanity does not become extinct, merged into the machine, but is able to go on evolving into the future.

Artists need not only be inspired by greatness around them. Think of Beethoven. His first creations were born of the intense inspirations raining down upon him, almost as a divine instinct. Then, with his Third Symphony and his entry into the world of deafness, he gained strength from fighting with all his will against hindrances. And at a later time, when even the inspiration of the Hero who finds strength in meeting adversity had deserted him, a whole new kind of music was unlocked in the face of illness and loneliness. Beethoven lived then in Vienna in the atmosphere of one of the progenitors of the surveillance state that afflicts us today – Prince Metternich, the instigator of the murder of Caspar Hauser and a statesman who did much to shape our world in ways diametrically opposed to Beethoven and to individual liberty.

I decided the only way to attempt an adequate reply to the doctor’s question was to draft a poem about it, which I did in the early morning of 1st May:


The vision of the poet –
the daring breath of the poet –
these qualities shall never leave this earth completely
though there are powers that fight to drive them out.

You ask can they survive the harsh beam of the gulag searchlight,
the boot stamping forever on the human face,
the tyranny of constant surveillance?
Some discover, when they use their art against the enemy,
that it takes on new powers of life.
Their enemy wants them dead, and they torment him with their life.

There’s no outer sustenance, no worldly encouragement,
but poetry is possible. And more than possible – it thrives,
as if it senses, in engaging with the enemy, the mission that’s entrusted to it.

If a single poet can craft words
that inspire others to fight back,
then the mission of the poet – the mission of poetry –
will, in this time of darkness, be fulfilled.


Each must find his or her own answer to the question of how to live at such a time as this. For me, the road to my salvation is to write. Often the poems are political, but not exclusively. The great theme becomes my individual inner struggles and the experiences I have of being on The Way. Meeting political nastiness is only one of the many challenges that must be grappled with. Sometimes an inspirational moment comes along, but much of life in this inter-regnum time seems to consist in traversing a landscape that resembles the Valley of the Shadow of Death and across which the great mass of humanity is going in the other direction. I find a meaning in each day’s events by traversing this valley and creating, in its most inhospitable landscape, my own inner fire.

Poetry can help anyone to come to peace amidst the conflicts of their age and to be given the strength to carry light into the darkness that they experience around them.


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