The past year’s headlines from Eastern Europe bleed together like a Virginia Woolf novel whose characters hang on in quiet desperation:

Bulgarians are Europe’s most dissatisfied – survey

Poll finds Hungarians increasingly glum

Romania’s anti-corruption efforts slow down — or go backwards

Sad and depressed generation is being created [in Croatia]

Even suicide is stagnating [in Hungary]

Germans miss the ‘good old days’ of the GDR

It’s been 20 years since the Iron Curtain opened. Back in ’89, the promise of capitalism and liberal democracy was supposed to lead the famously gloomy region into a new era of hope and optimism. But, as the newspapers say, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Lech Walesa — the man who gave us Solidarity and a “national treasure,” according to the current President of Poland — is so fed up, he is now threatening to emigrate and renounce his Nobel Prize. Last… More…

 

I am a Ph.D. student in a political science program, and I’ve been getting more and more annoyed. Most of the major voices in the field want to pin human behavior down to a series of standardized, quantifiable measures. Not only is this approach terribly boring to read, but it totally ignores the complexity of the individual or society. Is there any way I can use poetry in my work in order to fight these trends? — P.N., Madison, Wisconsin

There is definitely a way to fight those trends with poetry, P.N., and when you publish your compelling dissertation, I want to read it. The first thing you need to do is discover a poet from the area or areas of the world you research, particularly one who is not endorsed by the state, and do… More…