Monday, February 19, 2007

NEW YORKER article about poetry.

Here's a link to an interesting article by Dana Goodyear about POETRY magazine, the late Ruth Lilly's $200 million gift (which begat The Poetry Foundation) and the differences of opinion over what the Foundation's presence will do for poetry:

My favorite moments in the article come from the "keep things as they are" wing of poetry.  The ever-elitist Carol Muske Dukes, one of Los Angeles' most prominent, had this to say re a recent "reach out to a wider audience" essay by John Barr, president of the Foundation: "This is the consumerization of poetry.  It's being co-opted.  The foundation is talking about trying to reach as many people as possible without really changing their consciousness.  It just wants them to buy."

This drivel from an "esteemed" poet who once, on a panel at the LOS ANGELES TIMES Book Fair , talked dismissively about the poetry that came from a writing class she taught in a women's prison.  Sounds like a bad teacher to me.

And there's also this wonderful spit of rhetorical venom from Christian Witman, editor of POETRY magazine since 2003, on Sylvia Plath:  "Her overall influence has been terrible, promoting a kind of narcissistic despair that persists in many poems, novels and movies today."

Can poetry accomodate both a glass of Chablis and a bottle of Coke Zero?  NO, says the upper tier of the verse world.

And there you have it--this is why poetry is kept in an airless container on a high shelf--out of  fear "the stupid masses" may start writing "bad" verse, which will  cause the extinction of "good" poets.

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