Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A shot from the forum

Poetry Inc. is a great place.

a reply from me:

"There is no reason that a good poem cannot excite the brain as much or more than Halo 3. But the poem must engage the audience first. Audience hostile poetry (like much of the Avant Garde) cannot do this. There is nothing wrong with AG poetry per se -- what is wrong is when its cheerleaders pretend that it is the future or the Alpha and Omega of poetry.

They do themselves and their students a grave injustice (not to mention poetry and its audience) because they imagine poetry as a mystical set of Elusinian verbiage, enjoyed by the folks who "get it." They never imagine that a vast swath of humanity is waiting for their words and they the poets are the ones who don't understand."

To continue:

I understand that poets are a sensitive lot. And that we do not like to be told we are in the wrong. But we, as poets -- especially if we are not involved in popular poetry, must take a look at the most popular form of poetry (black urban/slam poetry) and ask ourselves "what does it do right?"

And the answer is:

It connects with as broad an audience as possible. It does not combat them. It engages them. It draws the audience in. It is the friend of the audience. Now, the best slam poetry also comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable -- but not before enveloping its patient victims in sounds, forms, and images they can consume, digest, and understand.

All poetry must do this. Before you can have an agenda, before you can create language, before you can pull down the walls of vanity, you must engage your audience.

You must have listeners before you can be heard.

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