Friday, March 05, 2010
Alpaugh, David. "The New Math of Poetry." CHRONICLE REVIEW February 21, 2010.
It's hard to figure out how much poetry is being published in America. When I suggested to Michael Neff, founder of Web del Sol, that anyone can start an online journal for $100, he pointed out that anyone can start one via a blog for nothing. If current trends persist, the sheer amount of poetry "published" is likely to double, quadruple, "ten-tuple" in the decades ahead. Who is writing all this poetry? In quieter times, the art's only significant promoters were English professors who focused on reading poetry for its own sake. Today colleges across America have hundreds of programs devoted to teaching men and women how to actually write the stuff. Those in charge of undergraduate and M.F.A. programs have cast themselves in the role of poetry-writing cheerleaders who are busy assuring tens of thousands of students that they are talented poets who should expect their work not only to be published but to win awards as well. The notion that writing and performing "poetry" is the easiest way to satisfy the American itch for 15 minutes of fame has spilled out of our campuses and into the wider culture. You can't pick up a violin or oboe for the first time on Monday morning and expect to play at Lincoln Center that weekend, but you can write your first poem in May and appear at an open mike in June waving a "chapbook" for sale. The new math of poetry is driven not by reader demand for great or even good poetry but by the demand of myriads of aspiring poets to experience the thrill of "publication." The new math is stunning. . . . Read the rest here: http://chronicle.com/article/The-New-Math-of-Poetry/64249/.