As a big sports fan, I watched LeBron James’s ESPN interview last week with fascination. James had the whole nation in suspense about which NBA team he would join. I kept thinking that good writers also deserve media attention.
When William Wordsworth and S. T. Coleridge were alive, British newspapers and magazines published new poetry and fiction in many issues. This made literature widely available to anyone who could read. However, today, most newspapers and magazines do not publish fiction or poetry, with the exception of once-a-year competitions. Television and radio stations rarely cover writers. The result is that many people have little exposure to creative writing outside of school, so they feel alienated from literature.
I suggest that all newspapers, magazines, radio stations, movie theaters, and television stations should devote at least an hour every day to having good writers read and discuss their work. Writers are as important to our culture as athletes.
For example, if the poetry of Langston Hughes had been heard and read by more Americans in the media, he would have raised our consciousness about the discrimination and harassment suffered by people of color. Then, the Civil Rights Movement could have more rapidly implemented laws and other changes to help all races achieve equal opportunity.
We need to hear from as many different writers as possible in all of the mass media. In a complex world, we need new ideas and new perspectives.
Originally posted on July 12, 2010