Objections to Poetry’s ‘Gatekeepers’ (the Atlantic)

Poetry Isn’t as Useless as a Lot of Folks Say It Is

…. “That’s because folks like Alexander have worked to create a myth of an essential poetry, poetry that is important because of what it is, rather than because of what it says.

It’s long past time, therefore, that we stopped asking “What Use Is Poetry?” and started asking, “What Use Is This Poem?” In some cases, maybe, we’ll find uses we didn’t know existed.” ….

(2013) < [ [ [
Poetry Isn’t as Useless as a Lot of Poets Say It Is
A recent speech at Yale inadvertently sums up what’s wrong with the art form these days: Its gatekeepers believe poetry matters because it’s poetry, not because of what it says.
] ] ] >

Saw someone had accessed a forgotten posting of this article on this blog from 2013 in my stats. Glad to be reminded… I had recently written a piece that said something different (as yet untyped up) but still had a bone to pick with the ‘gatekeepers’ as a whole. I am not sure the intuition is as correct as I thought at the time. It had to do with the lack of abstraction I felt the journals I had looked at seemed to display – as though clinging to the concrete was the only way to give poetry legitimacy. POETRY Magazine is the only one I get in the mail, and I haven’t had $s to get others, but I’ve looked at some websites. On later rechecking, it seems less so, although certainly there is less usage of extremely powerful abstract vocabulary from the maths/logics/sciences than I sometimes use. Alternate problems (particularly the slice of twitter in my feed) — excess of relationship/love/erotic poems – excess to a lesser degree of nature poems. Interesting maybe for the first 200 tweets/posts. after that bleck. Noor Shirazie (also on Twitter) is a notable exception – I read through several hundred of her poems a few years ago; always about relationships broken or current, but always something interesting to say. Even so, I find myself tiring of it since I’ve started following her on Twitter. Also, why constrain yourself to one subject??!

[[instant edit: I also objected to the over representation of things with clear determinate interpretations. That may have been the nut. ‘Abstract Poetry’ as in ‘Non-representational art’ … certainly does not seem entirely so in the last two issues of POETRY. Certainly, still, word choice and subject matter Set-Space parameters are very different from some of what I consider my best work]]

One thought on “Objections to Poetry’s ‘Gatekeepers’ (the Atlantic)

  1. Where was it? What was it? Bollockses, double-made, duplechain! ‘The ancients wouldn’t have asked these questions’. ‘Those are questions to be asked at the end of life’. Self-dialectic is for zero. Example is 1000 in what is made and negative nineteen in palaver over-other. ‘The professional merely does his work and lets others find out how to dig him’. Eye, ahora, Ahabbies & Maccabbees?

    Liked by 1 person

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