Essay On Modern Poetry

Essay On Modern Poetry-58
With an average of ten poetry students in each graduate section, these programs alone will produce about 20,000 accredited professional poets over the next decade.From such statistics an observer might easily conclude that we live in the golden age of American poetry.Based mostly in universities, these groups have gradually become the primary audience for contemporary verse.

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Over the past half century, as American poetry’s specialist audience has steadily expanded, its general readership has declined.

Moreover, the engines that have driven poetry’s institutional success—the explosion of academic writing programs, the proliferation of subsidized magazines and presses, the emergence of a creative-writing career track, and the migration of American literary culture to the university—have unwittingly contributed to its disappearance from public view.

No one knows how many poetry readings take place each year, but surely the total must run into the tens of thousands.

And there are now about 200 graduate creative-writing programs in the United States, and more than a thousand undergraduate ones.

One cannot easily marshal numbers, but to any candid observer the evidence throughout the world of ideas and letters seems inescapable. There is, in fact, little coverage of poetry or poets in the general press.

From 1984 until this year the National Book Awards dropped poetry as a category. In fact, virtually no one reviews it except other poets.There are now several thousand college-level jobs in teaching creative writing, and many more at the primary and secondary levels.Congress has even instituted the position of poet laureate, as have twenty-five states.But there are enough poets to make that local fame relatively meaningful.Not long ago, “only poets read poetry” was meant as damning criticism. The situation has become a paradox, a Zen riddle of cultural sociology.Almost no popular collections of contemporary poetry are available except those, like the , targeting an academic audience.It seems, in short, as if the large audience that still exists for quality fiction hardly notices poetry. Whereas a new novel or biography is reviewed on or around its publication date, a new collection by an important poet like Donald Hall or David Ignatow might wait up to a year for a notice. , but almost always in group reviews where three books are briefly considered together.The proliferation of new poetry and poetry programs is astounding by any historical measure.Just under a thousand new collections of verse are published each year, in addition to a myriad of new poems printed in magazines both small and large.One also finds a complex network of public subvention for poets, funded by federal, state, and local agencies, augmented by private support in the form of foundation fellowships, prizes, and subsidized retreats.There has also never before been so much published criticism about contemporary poetry; it fills dozens of literary newsletters and scholarly journals.

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