[lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006 21:05:30 -0500


The student-reader community is seldom right about poetry, or to be less dogmatic here, the student-reader community has an unschooled opinion.

I have no problem with this except, of course, that there's nothing in poetry to be "right" about. There are various levels of sophistication, to be sure, and often those levels depend on schooling. But schooling or the study of poetry can and often is antithetical to the soul of poetry and it's appreciation.

Poetry and the traditions of poetry are important especially because they preserve cultural values,

No, no, no, no. If you want to use schools to preserve cultural values, then teach history, sociology, political science, anthropology, religion, ethics but for God's sake don't cheapen poetry by making it a vehicle for cultural propaganda -- I mean 'values.'

...contemporary poets now give us prose lineated as poetry, as generation after generation of poets was taught to abandon meter and metaphor altogether in favor of trying to write philosophy, social commentary, private diaries, and essays with a ragged right edge.

If you had written "some contemporary poets", I could agree with you. Of those who do write philosophy, social commentary, private diaries and essays in the guise of poetry, some write really lousy poetry and some write brilliant poetry. It's not the subject of poetry that matters, it's the technique.

Now poetry is belittled and marginalized -- no longer a force for anything in culture, except among an increasingly alienated elite who find it difficult to say just what it is they're doing, and why, to ordinary people.

That's not my understanding. I haven't seen any recent sales reports but in 2000 Barnes & Noble and

----- Original Message ----- From: "Eric Yost" <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, October 12, 2006 4:16 PM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72

Mike: The student reader-community came to the poem with very different cultural assumptions and symbolizations. What did Roethke intend? Who cares?

We should all care and I feel like ranting about it. As Bertrand Russell noted in _The ABCs of Relativity_, if everything is relative there's nothing for it to be relative to. That's why they are....students. > and as such they are subjects that can be taught, meaning that students are unschooled and trained teachers can correct their naive understanding.

Instead of taking a cue from TS Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent," >
The politics of poetry are so vicious because the stakes are so small, as Hutchins famously said of academic politics. I mean, except as an article to read in the New Yorker that you don't even read all of because after a while you realize that it's all just the same sort of politics that you're reading the New Yorker to avoid thinking about in your own life. Instead of apprenticeship to poetry, we have an ultrademocratized easy-and-fun-for-beginners approach, based on a sense that students can never be wrong.

It's not progress. It's not liberating. It's not cool. It's the tedious "old spontaneous me" of Whitman imitation. Get out the old bongo drums, snap your fingers, then walk home amid the blowing trash and waste of a million egotists who never can be wrong.

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