"By defeatism I mean a signaling in advance that poetry is capable of very little significant social action, if any at all – and if the ‘poetry’ of the title is taken to refer to writing that can be called avant-garde, the chances of changing actual things for the better any time soon are really nil. So it is better to make minimal claims for poetry’s efficacy in the world."Well, Mr. Parr obviously hasn't read VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA. So far, the anthology has raised money to help the following organizations or groups that are helping survivors of Typhoon Haiyan:
Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and the Panay/Bukidnon Tribes
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns
Local libraries in Tacloban (ground zero of the typhoon)
Moreoever, not only does VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA present lovely poems but it also offers an all-too-rare view of contemporary Filipino Poetry (I look forward to other Filipino poet-activists redressing this matter), a narrative arc that's more novelistic in scope as the poems together offer a sum greater than its parts, and finally a new (and much-needed) take on the form of journalism given that most of the poems were written right after the typhoon hit land.
VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA not only is good literature but it does good--actual and not metaphorical good. That, per Mr. Parr's point, this effect isn't common in poetry is not due to Poetry's failings. It's due to a failure of imagination by some of its poet-practitioners, even among the so-called avant grade.
I move for clarity in analysis. While some poets are small, Poetry's possibilities remain infinite. So it has been, and so it always will be.