Most plain girls are virtuous because of the
scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Poets have alway been “immoral”
“Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm.”
~W.H. Auden to 13 year old boy
“Poetry has never been a fair fight. It has always operated by clique and manipulation. Were it not for Ezra Pound pulling strings, TS Eliot’s career would never have got airborne. That’s how “schools” of poetry get started…”
I have actually thought this. Much SU poetry (ID, Ario, once, trevor, jenn, cm, kevin, dave, gene, and others — that’s just off the top of my head) is so much better, so much fresher, than anything I read in poetry journals or the trite postmodern doggerel of so many poetry contest winners. And of course mine (well, some of it, anyway). I keep getting that “heard it all before” feeling, and I move into the mode of intellectualization of poetry, the politics of it (must be ethnic or intellectual and have a marketable persona), and so on. The whole thing loses the song, loses its heart. No wonder most readers kinda spit at poetry as putting on airs, and being overly sentimental. I find online readings ponderous and read in that high, whiny voice that Seb uses when I give him a draft that is really something of a brain dump or prose and he’s trying to make it more that it is. Reminiscent of someone reading a set of chess moves aloud. There is good poetry online, but not where you’d expect to find it. And there is so much digging through of manure in hope of finding a pony. Yet there are ponies in there so I continue to try. Alas, there are only 4000 characters available so I will not rant further. From the page:
“Why do poets bother, given the fact that we are so uninterested in their poetry? ….The answer was given, three hundred years ago by John Milton: “fame is the spur” (and do we want that damned patriarchal bastard author of Paradise Lost as professor of poetry? No, we most certainly do not)…
The fact is, all poets – while feeling the spur in their buttocks – are haunted by a fear. They will be forgotten, with all those other Courthopes of literary history. Any laurel – however withered – is lusted after by versifiers, as straws by drowning men. It guarantees permanence, or the hope of it. But there are so few laurels that the faded leaves are fought over, ruthlessly. No trick is too low to get that coronet on your brow.
What has happened so entertainingly at Oxford over the last week parallels the “foetry” scandal which rocked the world of American poetry, five years ago…. an anonymous website, http://www.foetry.com, set itself up as the “American Poetry Watchdog”. The dog barked, bit, and drew blood. What the website proclaimed was that the “poetry contests” by which aspirants in America got themselves known (typically by enclosing “entry fees” with their hopeful verses) were universally riddled with “fraud” and “sycophancy”. “It’s cheating,” the website raged. “It’s criminal. If this was anything other than poetry, the Department of Justice would be all over it.” The founder of the foetry “Watchblog” turned out to be Alan Cordle. And what motivated his crusade? High-mindedness, of course, but he also had a poet wife ….”
The comments on this page are even better than the article.