For the past few months I've been slowly digesting The Poets Laureate Anthology. I picked it up at Nightbird Books about three months ago, the first anthology of poetry that has caught my eye in some time. It's organized backwards, with the most recent U.S. poet laureate up front (W.S. Merwin) and the first last (Joseph Auslander).
Each chapter includes a selection of poems from the poet, a short biography, and, one of my favorite parts of the book, a one paragraph comment from that poet on the "state" of poetry or its function.
Mark Strand writes the following, which I believe could easily apply to preachers, replacing "poet" with "preacher." Unfortunately, we more often try to be politicians.
"Politicians are always looking for people to agree with them, but they tend to do the most disagreeable things... Poets, on the other hand, tend to be cheerleaders for the universe. That's why it's dangerous for them to align themselves with political causes. People will say they've (the poets) been taken in. They should stick to the broad issues, and the broadest issue of our experience are life and death. That's the stuff of all great poems."