Can Poetry Matter?

Recently, I've been picking through Dana Gioia's book Can Poetry Matter? which seems, thus far, to be a worthwile read if you have the time and interest. In the title essay, Gioia more or less comes down hard on contemporary poets for hiding in the academy. He laments the lost times of poetic bohemia when poets were out amongst the people.

Honestly, I have a little trouble buying this. Poets (writers in general, pretty much) have always been of the academy. Eliot, Creeley, Cummings, Ashbery et al. are Harvard chums (Creeley dropped out though.) Poets of the time period Gioia is dealing with, seem to me, to have always been a part of the academy.

It is true, though, that the Creative Writing boon has shaped the nature and practice of contemporary poetry. It could not have done otherwise. I'm less quick to indict this as a bad thing. If anything I see it as a chance to open up a populace to the idea of reading poetry. This is, of course, the central problem. Poetry just isn't vital to people. Who now can afford time to it? Can this ever change?

Lit mags though. He hits them pretty soundly. Currently, I'm editing the poetry section of Clerestory, which is Brown University literary magazine (more or less). I'm pretty daunted by the possibility of having to select undeserving poems for publication. The magazine simply demands a certain number of poems, which must be filled. There are, of course, several excellent even awesome submissions, but generally... Pretty weak.

Speaking of Clerestory and poems. This poem of mine appeared in the most recent edition:
Zapruder Film

Your death transpired
just as I had imagined it.

Except, of course,
for pink explosion.

That was a surprise.
Yep. And then this little gem (which I loved) from Brian Stefan (who is apparently a graduate student here).
Mail Art

an introduction
to language


you could say i'm trying
too hard
and be right
you could
fuck a horse


male art


shackleton, the explorer
died at forty-seven
in antarctica
while you read this

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey lovely boy. You wanted me to write something for your blog, right? Well let me know what and when!



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