Garrison Keillor on how poets can contribute to the economy


Gary Eichten interviewed Garrison Keillor today at the State Fair.

MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

While Midday generally presents two distinct topics each hour, each day, sometimes the conversation from the first hour bleeds into the second.

For instance, today Gary Eichten interviewed economist Chris Farrell in the 11 o’clock hour, and Garrison Keillor in the second. Lo and behold, Keillor’s first question from the audience was an economic one.

Mike from Minneapolis asked how Keillor thought English majors could contribute to the health of the economy.

Here’s Keillor’s response:

They can take themselves out of the economy by writing poetry. Poetry has no economic impact whatsoever – very little money ever changes hands. And so you become a neutral force in the economy.

And poets have very little expectation of prosperity – they do it for the love of what they’re doing, and that’s not a bad place to start. I think that if you were advising young people going out into the job market, in this very tough job market, I’d say find something that you’re passionate about, regardless of what the prospects are. Do what you are passionate about and stay interested in it and it will work out for you some how, one way or another. Because there’s unemployment among lawyers for Heaven’s sake, there’s unemployment among MBA’s, so why go the practical route?

Do you agree with Keillor? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

And here’s the audio from the entire hour with Keillor: