Does Poetry Matter?

This article in The Guardian newspaper caught my eye the other day. The question of whether poetry matters or what use it might have has been with us a long time, but maybe it’s asked more often, and by more unexpected people than before. George Szirtes thinks it does matter and says why:

[A letter writer in a newspaper argued that] what matters is the price of bread, the cost of shoes. Of course that matters. That, too, is life. And yet paradoxically, as it will seem to the correspondent, one major central European poet said in 1989: “When people have no shoes they want poetry; once they have shoes they need fewer poems.”

Correspondents with several pairs of good shoes might raise their eyes at that, but bookshops all over now reasonably well-shod central Europe can bear witness to it. Not to mention those raw towns and ranches of isolation we all inhabit.”