A languourous dive through the blogroll this weekend hauled up in ideogrammic conjunction Reginald Shepherd's conference room kerfuffle with Adam Kirsch over poetry's popularity, and Stephen Vincent's account of reading Kyger aloud to his 91-year-old mother. (Vincent's clear-eyed posts about his mother's response to poetry as her mind slips are among my favorite in blogland.)
Stephen's post reminds me how often the giant machinery of poetry—all those schools, CVs, conferences, retreats, blogs, publishers, and reviews that eat up so much of the foreground for those of us hustling in the art—ratchets down to a one-on-one encounter with a reader that no grant can really measure. True of all the arts, but especially so with poetry, where there's no reliable yardstick of "the popular." For all the welcome talk about community, poetry's paradoxically most political and subversive, for me at least, where it's most anti-social; where it turns the late-capitalist pyramid on its head, putting its trees and factories and foundries and editors and ink at the service, for an instant, of the 91-year-old person who listens.
Do poets want to be popular? Or is the taller order wanting to be heard?
2 hours ago