Friday, April 25, 2014

Poetry e-mail from 2009 on "overcrafted" vs. "undercrafted" poems.

Today, I've been deleting old e-mail and I came across something written to me by a Major Figure To This Day in SoCal poetry.  Most of it I won't share here, since it was back and forth opinionating on the quality and artistic worth of certain poets (most of them still active locally).

But this passage is generalized enough to reprint here:
I think if you stopped dividing poetry into separate "well-crafted" and "accessible" categories, you'd be able to understand my take on it better.
I fully agree that there are overcrafted poems out there, and that they turn off the general audience. I see everything which happened in SoCal poetry (and across the country for that matter) over the last twenty years as a fight against overcrafted poetry. If the pendulum is starting to swing back that way, that's regrettable.
But at the same time we opened the door, perhaps too wide, to undercrafted poetry. Which is, in fact, just as inaccessible. A rambling journal entry will chase the audience out of a reading just as fast as a piece of dry academia. You need the balance.

Notice the phrase "journal entry" and wonder (as I sometimes do) whether a poem written by a poet about his/her travails becomes more acceptable if you're "in" with people who shape the community by way of who gets booked for features and special tribute readings.

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