Sunday, December 2, 2012

Say What? A Poetry Glut?

Earlier this week, the Boston Review published "Glut Reactions: The Demographics of American Poetry," a piece that the Poetry Foundation has since called a "(wonderfully) long conversation" between P&PC and University of Georgia English professor Jed Rasula. Responding in a roundabout way to Marjorie Perloff's essay "Poetry on the Brink," which argued earlier this year that "the sheer number of poets now plying their craft inevitably ensures moderation and safety," Rasula and P&PC bat around some ways to better understand and assess what folks have called the apparently sudden "glut" of poetry, why they've responded as they have, and what new or different perspectives might be brought to bear on the subject.

How can one argue, in a world where there are way too many poems out there for any one person to read, that all of those poems are inevitably marked by moderation and safety? Why would lots of poems be a problem, and for whom? What happens to Official Verse Culture, the avant-garde, and other institutions of poetry when all of a sudden we start seeing poetry as P&PC tends to do—as a form that's been proliferating, not vanishing, over the course of the long twentieth century in so many ways and media, in the hands of millions of readers, and oftentimes in apparent cooperation with the expanding consumer economy, that it's impossible to fully track in terms of insides and outsides? Who is reading and writing and writing all of this poetry, why, and in what ways? Heck, what does "poetry" even mean in such a world?

If these questions intrigue you, find yourself an hour or so out of your busy day and head on over to BR to check out "Glut Reactions." Then go write or read another poem.