When Bay Area poets Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, and Geoffery G. O'Brien were beaten by police during a peaceful protest at Occupy Berkeley, the answer to the question the headline poses was answered in dramatic fashion.
The news spread quickly in the poetry community. We were astonished, horrified, and concerned. This is not Chile. This is not Turkey. This is not Russia. We are not a country that imprisons or brutalizes its writers because of their writings; in fact, Americans are not really used to writers -- especially poets -- placing themselves at the forefront of political issues or political protests. When Hass published a smart and measured op-ed about the incident in The New York Times, it was a rare moment when American poetry and politics met on a grand stage.
Read the rest at Huffington Post San Francisco.