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OF POETRY AND A-HOLES
In recent history, some insulting moron called films the poetry of our era—deaf to the thousands of poets who raise their voices daily, hoping America, and perhaps the world, will hear. The chilling, if not complete silencing, of contemporary American poetry at peak bloom is an awful thing to watch. Educational factors are too numerous to mention; however, the insistence by the mainstream that poetry sell, the death of independent bookstores, book reviews, and the overall throes of a publishing world that must revamp or die, is brutally ugly. Current economic crises are drying up funds for artists in general, poets and poetry specifically, even journalists, as “little” publications go under and poetry festivals are cancelled—laureates, the NEA, and the best efforts of arts councils aside. No surprise. It began in the late 1980s with declarations by major newspapers that poetry would no longer be reviewed and, ironically, corresponds to the birth, growth and ascension of The Internet—not that poems of all quality, schools and tastes, can’t be accessed in cyberspace. Some of that thrives. But immediate and unfettered doc.com democracy has also meant that anyone, with enough chutzpah, money, and site hits, may affect or direct literary currents—those of poetry, fiction and any other writing with or without the authority that comes with genuine knowledge and commitment. Any ignoramous can become a literary honcho without having earned the chops. In this kind of arena artistic integrity will get you nowhere.