The Invitation-Only Party That Is Poetry Today

Thanks to dumbfoundry for pointing out this excellent article on the sad state of elitism into which poetry has sunk today. It’s a pithy little piece that plays fast and loose with history, but it is the closest hammer I’ve yet seen to hitting the nail on the head. My wife Valerie dedicated her life to an art form equally plagued with the same quandary of elitism that causes it to be marginalized: classical music. Such elitism in both worlds presents a double bind: write (or compose) in an accessible way, and you are considered a traitor and booted from the inner circle of intelligentsia with the words “pop culture” taped to your back; yet at the same time neither art in its current state can thrive. Record sales plummet; interest in contemporary poetics has been in a tailspin for decades. It takes great courage to face the insecure mob of postmodern aesthetes that currently have a stranglehold on certain strata of po-biz on one hand, and the star struck pop culture performance poetry lovers on the other hand–to stay a true course toward meaningful art. Perhaps now more than any other time has the challenge of artistic integrity presented itself so forcefully in the medium of poetry. Yet now more than ever are those alienated from poetry deep down desperate for the kind of meaningful experience that a poem written with both the heart and mind, fully engaged, can provide.