Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Comical World of Poetry

Speaking of poetry, politics, and marketplace competition, Gary Sullivan’s post comparing comic books with poetry books is an exceptional one, and describes the issue with real world experience and reflective insight, both of which, I might add, I lack. Just a very heavily edited taste (read the entire post; it’s well worth it):
Poetry generally sells to academics of one kind or another, who can use the book in a particular context, often one which frames the writing in one way or another. (snip) I suspect that part of the mania in poetry world for categorizing is in part a result of the way in which poetry is, literally, sold. (snip) Categorizing becomes a way of creating a kind of pseudomarket. (snip) People don't seem to think about "poetry" in general; we think about kinds of poetry. (snip) So, categories are created and maintained. (snip) It's a workable marketing strategy, whatever else one might call it.

The biggest downside of the lack of a market beyond academia for poetry is that it begins to inform how people see themselves, and what they do. Weird codes of ethics are created. (snip) People aren't supposed to want your book of poetry. (snip) Somehow, by some miracle, it's supposed to fall out of the sky into their lap and by some other miracle they're supposed to actually read it, and the act of doing so is supposed to change the way they see and think about things. (snip) Poetry, in other words, as a kind of cultural/psychic medicine.

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