Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Poetry Magazine, and Mediocrity

On many blogs and list servs of late there has been much wringing of hands about the Poetry Foundation and their lack of care for our artform and the poetry community. I think however that this is a major issue but there is another issue that no one in poe-world wants to address and it may be the root and much of the mediocrity in poetry and that is the fact that poetry and its institutions are so myopic and narrow that the artform is slowly eating itself.

I just finished doing an anthology of Brazilian writing that will appear in Aufgabe magazine later this year. The thing that struck me about the poets that we included was the diversity of their lives and how rich their lives are in comparison to so many poets I know in the USA. Here they were Doctors, Professors, Bankers and Lawyers, A judge all writing important poetry and all living engaged lives as public intellectuals.

The fact that so many American poets are professional poets and the days of the poet as public intellectual are over here except for a few like Silliman, Fuller, Daniels, and alike who are people who have jobs in the general society but remain engaged in a poetic dialogue.

The issue in the USA in my opinion is comfort. Most Americans like comfort and safety. While it is unfair to say that most American poets have sold out what it is fair to say is that most American poets who dwell in Academia or Poetry Business are not going to challenge the dominant paradigm since this paradigm gives them a comfortable life.

Poetry in the USA is very suburban. It may be Cambridge/Madison/Berkeley suburban but it is suburban. This is the result of the fact that a huge majority of poets live in comfortable surroundings. When I compare poet's lives, my life, to others I am shocked at how pedestrian and how suburban we all are. Poets in China get executed, poets in the USA are ignored as irrelevant.

In the end it does not matter what the Poetry Foundation does since they are just a symptom of something bigger the death of the public intellectual in the United States. We are dwelling now in a fundamentally anti intellectual period and poets do not wish to engage with this world and so they have retreated to a desert island with their books and comfort.