National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.  To celebrate here at Politics for the People, I have asked Dr. Jessie Fields and Harry Kresky to curate a selection of some of their favorite political poems. Both are avid poetry readers, independent political leaders, and Jessie is also a poet.  I am looking forward to savoring the poems they select for us.

To kick us off, I wanted to share a personal favorite, Apolitical Intellectuals by Otto Rene Castillo.  I was introduced to this poem when I met the Castillo Theater in the mid 80’s.  NYC’s premier postmodern political theater was named after the Guatemalan revolutionary and poet who was killed in 1967.

I am including a wonderful video of volunteers from the Castillo theater performing Apolitical Intellectuals.  Enjoy.

Otto Rene Castillo



Apolitical Intellectuals

One day
the apolitical
of my country
will be interrogated
by the simplest
of our people.

They will be asked
what they did
when their nation died out
like a sweet fire
small and alone.

No one will ask them
about their dress,
their long siestas
after lunch,
no one will want to know
about their sterile combats
with “the idea
of the nothing”
no one will care about
their higher financial learning.

They won’t be questioned
on Greek mythology,
or regarding their self-disgust
when someone within them
begins to die
the coward’s death.

They’ll be asked nothing
about their absurd
born in the shadow
of the total lie.

On that day
the simple men will come.

Those who had no place
in the books and poems
of the apolitical intellectuals,
but daily delivered
their bread and milk,
their tortillas and eggs,
those who drove their cars,
who cared for their dogs and gardens
and worked for them,
and they’ll ask:

“What did you do when the poor
suffered, when tenderness
and life
burned out of them?”

Apolitical intellectuals
of my sweet country,
you will not be able to answer.

A vulture of silence
will eat your gut.

Your own misery
will pick at your soul.

And you will be mute in your shame.

–Otto Rene Castillo




Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

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