your poetry and ‘poetry’

Justin writes: “I really don’t think too many poets out there are as concerned as one might think about the ‘present condition/state’ of poetry, or even its future. I think most poets are entirely too self-centered to even begin to consider the world around them, even the world of poetry.”

My question is: Is it such an either/or proposition? Are focusing on your own work and being interested in the state of poetry mutually exclusive activities?

What I tend to find is that while I remain generally interested in ‘the state of poetry’, it’s in a very other-planetly sort of way, entirely divorced from my own work and struggles and dilemmas as a practicing poet.

Would it be more or less helpful to me as an aspiring poet to have a clearer idea about exactly where on that distant other planet called ‘poetry’ my work fits, where it originated and where it might be headed? Do others feel an organic connection between their own work and ‘poetry’?

I honestly have no idea.


is being mysterious and not at the moment enlightening our particular corner of darkness.

We asked before: What is engaged poetry?

Is it (1) a way of writing stamped by awareness of creating one’s own meaning and values, refusing convention, choosing and deciding minute by minute, living in doubt, regarding nothing as ever settled?

Or is engaged poetry (2) political advocacy – soap-boxing for the rights of one or another of a range of oppressed social groups?

(Sidebar question: May we legitimately consider humanity an “oppressed social group”? Is us against the gods existentially the same as us-human-Group-A against them-human-Group-B?)

Question: Is there a difference between (1) and (2)?

Yes. The first, necessarily, is an existentially creative mode, and a solitary mode (Sidebar question: Which mode of those two comes first?).

The second is a solidarity-based mode, and therefore more likely to be (but not necessarily?) existentially imitative.

The only thing I will point out to all whose heads are exploding at this point is that Scavella started it. Heh.

Committed poetry, again

Some thoughts about committed/activist art here.  On the three paths vis à vis activism open to all of us. Still wobbly on this issue, per this post from last August. Seems that most hanging out in the poetry blogosphere have gone with option three. True or false. Good thing or bad thing.

value of a poem?

I don’t think anyone does it (i.e. write poems) for the money and I never thought about how much poetry might earn for me, except possibly to think that it couldn’t possibly earn anything much. Yes, I know I’m a know-nothing, but somehow, focusing this afternoon for the first time, I am simultaneously disturbed and comforted to see (for random example) that the The Stick Man Review pays $10 a poem. With a maximum of $20 per author. (Per issue?) I mean, what does this mean, exactly? A million questions spring to mind, among them: do I have to pay taxes on the $10? and WTF?!  Surely it makes more sense to offer nothing than it does to offer $10 in the case of poetry….?