But in taking up the lyric as its chief form, contemporary poetry has seriously delimited itself. It thereby gives away much that has always made literature an activity of primary significance; it gives away the power to tell stories, to report on how people live and have lived, to struggle for those larger truths about life the discovery of which is the final justification for reading. Thus has poetry in our day become, in the words of the intelligent young poet and critic Brad Leithauser, "a sadly peripheral art form."He does make me glad that I abandoned teaching after five years in the trenches, and that I live a very ordinary life with a household full of children. But. He certainly showed little hope for poetry or the long poem 25 years ago: "...just now the entire enterprise of poetic creation seems threatened by having been taken out of the world, chilled in the classroom, and vastly overproduced by men and women who are licensed to write it by degree if not necessarily by talent or spirit." Would he find us in a better state now? Or would he count the increasing number of MFA programs (low residency programs abound) and laugh?
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The state of poetry, 25 years on--
I went back and reread Joseph Epstein's "Who Killed Poetry?" I wondered if it might have discouraged me from Thaliad if I had remember it better back in 2010 when I wrote the poem. I think not, as I do exactly what I want to do in the kingdom of words. (My luck: I have no merit raise to gain, no academic promotion to seek, no faux-muse to follow.) But it should have done so, no doubt, with its talk of the impossibility of the long poem in our day, and the silliness and rarification and professionalization of poets! Nevertheless, he says this: