Yes and no.
First, let's admit something: in most everyone's mind, Poetry doesn't even exist. Slam poetry does, and fair play to the slammers, though it's not clear yet how hard you can slam Poetry before it just takes its ball and goes home. Yes, poets are barely worth teasing these days. It makes me sad. ;)
"Don't wink on your blog post of all places for goodness’ sake! You want to be taken seriously, don't you?"
Well, I suppose so, intruding voice. But I also want to wink on my blog post. I don't understand why I can't do both. What would you have me do?
"Get to the point. You're certainly not as amusing as you think you are."
Ah, I see. Hold on. Don't blink. Bright screens and beeping machines will tell us where to go--
"You're getting carried away."
You're right there. I’ll bring myself back. This is important to me.
Ahem. There are multiple interacting factors, historical and embodied, that can explain the present near non-existence of Poetry: the proliferation of sound recording, chronic seriousness in all quarters, speed reading (FFS), MFA’s, the death of Mother Goose, the birth of birth control, cold hearts, global warming, and more.
But perhaps the biggest factor is that the English Poetry Marketing Department (EPMD) is currently run by a coterie of incestuous (though in all likelihood erotically inept) bores from the academy. (Take that bores!) One can't expect poets conceived under such conditions to compete with, say, Beyoncé. Not that there's an official competition, per se, but I invoke the Queen for a reason. Charisma and legs trump learned obscurity every time. Or…embodied beauty beats disembodied thoughting. Like, duh.
"Nathan, you're not qualifying your argument at all, if we can even call it that. You know you can't lump everyone at the EPMD into the category of incestuous bores. It's rude, not true, and could get you into trouble. Also, your unexamined list of factors, coupled with this antagonistic tone, screams dilettante. Where's your evidence regarding how Poetry does or doesn't suck? I thought you were going to take this seriously."
Quiet intruding voice! I’m sick of your incessant demands, your logic. Please, let me continue.
Poetry sucks now because most of the poems are incomprehensible, thus boring, thus (!) almost no one reads them. When, if ever, was the last time you heard someone talk about a poem in public? Uh huh. Flip through any anthology of contemporary poetry if you want to know why.
Poetry doesn't suck because there are poets working today who are, in fact, immensely pleasurable to read; giving pleasure being the foremost measure of good Art.
This is a worthy goal, this giving pleasure. Heaven knows we need as much beauty and verve as we can conjure up down here in the human jungle. Any artist doubting the value of their project, take note.
"This is a little better. But I still want something concrete. Give examples."
I agree, intruding voice. You’re actually useful on occasion, a good sparring partner.
“Yes, and I enjoy whacking you on the head.”
I’ve noticed. So, over the next three months, I’ll lay out my proposal for a new approach to promoting pleasurable poesy, while turning my attention towards three living American poets: Thomas Graves, Mary Angela Douglas, and Ben Mazer, as well as three dead ones: Edgar Allan Poe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Walt Whitman. And together, pennies in hand, ambling from fountain to fountain, you and I, gentle reader, will rebuild a space for Poetry.
Oh, should I have capitalized that P?
Nathan Woods, editor/overlord