Friday, April 03, 2009

Though it is Poetry Month, I seem to be hearing and reading a lot more grumbling about poetry than I do hurrahs...which is okay. I grumble about poetry all the time and have been for years, so its good to see a community of grumblers sprouting up at long last. After all, ever major movement (or political revolution, it I may) began with a quiet, but passionate grumble.

In many ways, contemporary poetry works like a Ponzi scheme operated by the academic world. We keep investing all our energies with the promise of a lasting payoff only to see our overall wealth of talent drained completely dry and for the benefit of just a few. The problem, though, is that we have no other options; if you want to write poetry in America you are inescapably linked to academia (the only other option being arts communities, but even then, good luck getting those folks to a poetry reading). I want to write poetry, and so I bought into the system, and am now, or will soon be, rather, in pursuit of that big, promised payoff.

Where will poetry be in 10 years? Who can hope is that grassroots movements like the small press revolution will keep growing, that people like Janaka Stucky will keep finding new and innovative ways to fund and promote the art, that poetry will become a little dangerous again. I think that there are enough of us who have decided to make our own fortunes that this just could happen. There are scads of poets living and working outside of academia, and these voices are quickly becoming the voices recognized as contemporary poetry. They are voices that aren't being called upon to fill job requirements, in fact, they are voices that exist despite job requirements, motivated by no other desire than to make poetry that people want to read, or, in the very least, that we want to read again later. They are voices that don't have to exist, but do, and its these voices that I hope will shape the poetry our children read...that is, if our children will read poetry: Poetry dies in latest U.S. culture

No comments: