The View from the Underground

For those of you not plugged in, Alexandra Petri wrote an article for the Washington Post entitled "Is Poetry Dead?" I will not link it here. It has already gotten too much attention and does not deserve another back link.

First, when I was living abroad I would get rather irate and abrasive whenever I would hear someone speak ill about America. America, my home, I rue every moment my feet touch it's soil and hate to the fiber of my being the science experiments this country conducts on it citizens, the completely disillusioned values, and the travesties which are daily occurrences here. But no one talks shit about my family but me.

Alexandra Petri isn't a poet.

Second, whatever. Let her, let all of them, think poetry is dead. Ghost get the better view of the world anyway.

I could say a whole bunch of shit like: to even state that poetry is dead, or could be dead, is to completely misconceptualize what poetry stands for (and no, misconceptualize isn't a word. Poetry, bitch.).

But I won't. I don't care or at least care less then I'm letting on here.

I'll admit fire rose in my eyes when I read that she thought "what we mean by poetry is a limp and fangless thing." I could have broken a nose or two with the spine of a Kay Ryan book.

But really the only way to get anyone to read your shit on-line anymore is to make wild and outrageous claims. The internet is flooded with so many panting dogs out there, Chihuahuas and German Shepards both spell "bark" the same way, just one has to yap a little more for attention. I don't blame her really. And I do wholly think poetry needs a swift kick in the ass, so why not have it be from an outsider questioning its validity. I'll admit I've though it before. But then, this my home. This is where I live.

So what no one's work is currently matching up to the Divine Comedy or The Odyssey. The cannon is forged over time. Literary importance is bestowed, not just inherent. Who knows what any poet will be in the future besides dead. And can't the cogency of poetry also be said for all classical forms of contemporary art? Yes, there is just a lot more money in oil, but for how much longer? How many of those young artist who've never even touch oil could could have been the next Van Gogh, sitting behind a computer doing graphic design for a dental office? How many could have been the next Whitman but instead of standing in a open field broke and naked sat at a desk inserting SEO keywords into some article they shitted out?

Maybe poetry isn't dead. Maybe the poets aren't alive. Maybe we're all just too afraid to throw it all away and just write poetry and only poetry. To forget health insurance and let that upper groin lump grow and pray it doesn't take you until you've finished that last chap book. To let go of mortgage payments and live like a monk on hangouts. Show me the mangled artist who gave it all up for poetry and gracefully took a shotgun to the dome or walked into the river with a stone-coat. Save this over-fed diabetes and cancer culture.

Take the gutter over a cubical. Be a nothing no-name alcoholic scarred broke vagrant poet rather then some dead on their feet HMO shielded journalist marketeer.

If poetry is dead is your opinion, keep your opinions. In fact, keep your money. Keep your fame. Keep your notoriety. And if you are opening lit mags with that attitude, keep your fucking readership.

Yeah, I'm pointing some fingers, but let this be a conversation with the self I'm sharing with you. All of us poets have been worrying too much about what poetry is and where poetry is, rather then writing poetry. So I'm stopping here.