Philebrity has floated the idea of a "Peoples Poet" for Philadelphia. Just thinking... reading the comments to this piece, how little of our wonderful poetic maelstrom percolates up into ... what to call it? ... majority consciousness? And that if it did, Philly poetry would find itself the center of much controversy... that it might even be dangerous if more people knew more of what Philly poets have been saying & writing. We are protected, in some ways, by our relative obscurity.
This is what's both interesting and problematic about the idea of a' representative poet.' There are plenty of people in Philly who would not like it one bit to think of themselves as "represented" by what poets are writing. Why anyone with a stake in the political status is absolutely totally unsuited as judge, cause there is no level of merit that will outweigh the consideration of whether or not the work is deemed 'safe.' Why honor from the Established Order is always going to carry with it a declaration of Impotence.
A "people's poet,' however that might come about--by not assuming the myth of an undivided political/social body to represent, enters the Political from a different angle. Just who are these 'people,' and what do THEY represent, vis a vis the established order & its contended habitants? Carrying with it both a symbolic challenge... and involving a defensive maneuver, making it easier for the agonists to dismiss -- without feeling the need to destroy, which--while safer for us poets, blunts our challenge by other means.