...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

July 01, 2005

The Trouble With Poetry

The Anchoress linked to this interesting NRO column by Mark Goldblatt. In it, he describes what happens when a writer reveals he supports Bush in a room full of poets.

But the most interesting part for me was Goldblatt's theory on why poets are so homogenously left wing. i find his reasoning persuasive:

How could a room full of published poets, wannabe poets, and poetry fans — in other words, people of average to slightly-below-average intelligence — turn out to be of a single mind on the subject of politics? Even in Manhattan, the mathematical odds against such a gathering would seem astronomical.

The answer, I suspect, has to do with groupthink and with the state of poetry in the United States. It is an absolute rule of aesthetics that as the formal constraints of a genre are cast aside, judgment within the genre becomes more and more subjective. Think of it this way: If I set out to write a Petrarchian sonnet and mess up the rhyme scheme, you can point out the error. But how can you tell if I’ve screwed up free verse? As judgment becomes more and more subjective, recognition depends less and less on inspiration and technique. Brownnosing, rather than craft, becomes the poet’s stock and trade. What is the common characteristic of the dozen most notable American poets today?

Their ability to work a room.

If you’re a struggling poet, therefore, right-of-center politics is not an intellectual option; it’s bad manners, a social faux pas. The propositions that George W. Bush is a miserable excuse for a president, that Republicans are evil money-grubbing bastards, that religious conservatives are actively seeking to establish a legislative theocracy . . . these function as conversational currency. If you cannot agree to them, you cannot shmooze; and if you cannot shmooze, you cannot gain entry into the brownnosing, pal-publishing, blurb-spewing universe of American poetry.

Posted by annika, Jul. 1, 2005 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry


The thing that bugs me so much... and I don't even know how to word it right now, but I see all this attention paid to so-called artistics that are all left-wing moonbats with less talent in their chosen "art" than I have in my own little finger. There are so many creative, brilliant, conservative people who are being marginalized and ignored because of this leftist bias... grrrr

Posted by: Jeremy on Jul. 1, 2005

So much for becoming a poet. *Sigh*

Posted by: Mark on Jul. 1, 2005

O.k. no offense intended, and I don't know Mark, but that sigh just bugs me. I think it bugs me cause I felt that way for a moment just before realizing how much of a sissy it made out of me. They want us to sigh, to frown, to cry, and to give up. So here's what we do: 1) We laugh at their incompetence - cause they don't know who they are up against. 2) We continue to do what we love. 3) We become wildly successful, rich, and live happily ever after or something like that.

Maybe I'm a little over the top, but sometimes ya just gotta "...hoist the black flag...and start slitting throats." instead of just complaining.

Posted by: Jeremy on Jul. 1, 2005

i like your fighting spirit, Jeremy. There's someone i'd like you to talk to.

His name is Bill... Frist.

Posted by: annika on Jul. 1, 2005

Frist was so different when he was running for Governor of our dear neighbors to the south. I don't know what it is about national politics that makes ninnies and sycophants out of men. It's a sad thing. I'd rather have Newt with all his failures running the ship, because I at least knew he had a passion for leading...

Posted by: Jeremy on Jul. 5, 2005