The Political Poetry of Decency

Class Information


Sunday, April 21, 2024


1 PM – 4 PM


One Day Only!


Zoom (Live)








Class Description

George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, critic, polemicist, and political activist said, “Decency is indecency’s conspiracy of silence.” With all the conspiracy theories floating around the islands of mendacity, we can examine this quote in a closer way. The definition of decency, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the quality or state of being decent: propriety. Conformity to standards of taste, propriety, or quality. Hmm, since the title of this class for beginning or seasoned poets is The Political Poetry of Decency, let’s examine the definition of propriety since the basis for any polemic is defining terms: the quality or state of being proper or suitable.  Let’s end this paragraph with the definition of decent, again with the assistance of Merriam-Webster:  marked by moral integrity, kindness, and goodwill. Is it just me, or do you also notice a lack of decency, a lack of taste, a paucity of kindness and moral integrity in much of our country’s politics, and mass media? Why the rebirth of hate, ignorance? Let’s turn this paragraph over to the Muse for a possible solution in poetic polarities.


In the first 90 minutes of this class, can we trust to the pens and keyboards which resonate with women poets of political decency? Like Nikki Giovanni telling of the decency of Rosa Parks, or Audre Lorde’s love of quality words that are like the diamond comes from a know of flame, or Carolyn Forche who asks with integrity, In what time do we live that it is too late to have children? Ms. Forche might also ask, do We lie down in the fields and leave behind the corpses of angels? We might also benefit from the pens of Tracy K. Smith, Each feeling pierced suddenly By pillars of heavy light; or Lorna Dee Cervantes‘ What ever becomes of waiting and wanting, when the princess isn’t ready and the queen has missed the boat, again?  These and other women poets will provide poems or film clips that ground us in decency and kindness choices in life or warn of the political and existential edge of the roof which is currently our fare.


The second 90 minutes we’ll visit men who write and live decency as their middle names. The moral integrity of William Stafford who writes to ask him mistakes he has made. Or W.S. Merwin, who might advise us to wake as the laughing child. Or Pablo Neruda who sees ropes like gold arteries, anchors as heavy as planets, long and intricate chains like intestines of the whale itself. And in that love of work with his hands we find one of the secrets of many men’s hearts. Yusef Komunyakaa’s father could only sign his name but needed his son to write letters to his mother who fled the father’s violence. Quincy Troupe’s father played baseball in the Negro Leagues of 1930s and 40s. The seeds of his love for his father were watered and groomed on the baseball diamond as well as in life.


It was nice to prepare this part of the workshop to honor men of decency when many men of visibility today seem only to major in gaslighting. We are waiting for gaslighting bullies to be confronted by their peers. The more their peers remain silent as the meanness continues, the more they live George Bernard Shaw’s above quote with their passive silence of indecency.


If you are looking for a critique group, this is not the class for you.  Sign up using the above link to pay the fee. Jim will then e-mail the class syllabus to you after Writers Ink forwards your e-mail address to him the day before the class on Saturday, April 20, 2024. You will receive your class syllabus with a bibliography. You will also receive the Zoom ID link to this class when you receive your syllabus


You will be emailed the Zoom link 24 hours before the start of the class. If you sign up less than 24 hours before the start of the class, please either send us a message via this website or send an email to to request your link.


Please note that it is best to register at least a week before the start of a class to help our instructors prepare and ensure that a class does not get canceled or rescheduled. Policies on registration, refunds, cancellations, etc. can be found on our policies page. If you would like to provide feedback regarding this class, please feel free to complete an evaluation form.