Prose from Poetry Magazine

American Poetry in the New Century

by John Barr
1

Poetry in this country is ready for something new. We are at the start of a century, and that, in the past, has marked new beginnings for the art. Pound and Eliot launched Modernism in the opening years of the twentieth century, in the pages of this magazine. And in the opening years of the nineteenth, 1802 to be exact, Wordsworth launched poetry's Romantic era with the second edition of Lyrical Ballads. (The centennial calendar does not go further back. The early years of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries did not mark new departures for English poetry. And American poetry found its true beginnings in Whitman and Dickinson, who did their writing in the middle of the nineteenth century, not at either end.)

But it's not really a matter of calendar. American poetry is ready for something new because our poets have been writing in the same way for a long time now. There is fatigue, something stagnant about the poetry being written today. If one could say that a characteristic of Romantic poetry was that there was way too much of it written once it became established (weekend versifiers to this day still write in Romantic modes), one could say the same of modern poetry. The manner of it has long been mastered. Modernism has passed into the DNA of the MFA programs. For all its schools and experiments, contemporary poetry is still written in the rain shadow thrown by Modernism. It is the engine that drives what is written today. And it is a tired engine.

A new poetry becomes necessary not because we want one, but because the way poets have learned to write no longer captures the way things are, how things have changed. Reality outgrows the art form: the art form is no longer equal to the reality around it. The Georgian poets wrote, coming after a century of such writing, with the depleted sensibility of Romanticism. Their poetry was in love with an antebellum England: "yet / Stands the Church clock at ten to three? / And is there honey still for tea?" The Georgians did not sense the approach of WWI, and their poetry was unequal to the horrors of trench warfare. (To see how a Georgian sensibility did respond, read Rupert Brooke: "If I should die, think only this of me: / That there's some corner of a foreign field / That is for ever England." This is a beautiful poem, but one far afield from mustard gas.) It took Yeats to give British poetry its first great dose of twentieth-century realism. It took The Waste Land to enable a poetry of chaos.

The need for something new is evident. Contemporary poetry's striking absence from the public dialogues of our day, from the high school classroom, from bookstores, and from mainstream media, is evidence of a people in whose mind poetry is missing and unmissed. You can count on the fingers of one hand the bookstores in this country that are known for their poetry collections. A century ago our newspapers commonly ran poems in their pages; fifty years ago the larger papers regularly reviewed new books of poetry. Today one almost never sees a poem in a newspaper; and the new poetry collections reviewed in the New York Times Book Review are down to a few a year. A general, interested public is poetry's foremost need.

More than a decade ago, Dana Gioia recognized poetry's disjunction from public life, in his seminal essay, "Can Poetry Matter?" The question still pertains. Lacking a general audience, poets still write for one another. (Witness the growth of writing workshops and the MFA programs.) Because the book-buying public does not buy their work, at least not in commercial quantities, they cannot support themselves as writers. So they teach. But an academic life removes them yet further from a general audience. Each year, MFA programs graduate thousands of students who have been trained to think of poetry as a career, and to think that writing poetry has something to do with credentials. The effect of these programs on the art form is to increase the abundance of poetry, but to limit its variety. The result is a poetry that is neither robust, resonant, nor—and I stress this quality—entertaining; a poetry that both starves and flourishes on academic subsidies.

Not surprisingly, poetry has a morale problem. A few years ago I read a review, in the Sunday Times, of three books of poetry. One was about the agonies of old age, one about bombed-out Ireland, one about the poet's dead father. The question arises: how does one rouse an entire art form out of a bad mood? Of course the tragic has a place in poetry. Indeed one of poetry's jobs is to descant on the worst that life can hand us. As Yeats said, let "soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing / For every tatter in its mortal dress." But art should not be only about malfunction. Poetry need not come only from impairment. To the extent it does, it makes for a poetry that is monotonic—mono-moodic, if you will. Yeats recognized this when he wrote, "Seventy years have I lived, / Seventy years man and boy, / And never have I danced for joy." Poetry's limitations today come not from failures of craft (the MFA programs attend to that) but from afflictions of spirit. American poetry has yet to produce its Mark Twain.

The combined effects of public neglect and careerism, then, are intellectual and spiritual stagnation in the art form. Although poets pride themselves on their independence, when did you last read a poem whose political vision truly surprised or challenged you? Attitude has replaced intellect.

2

I wish I could offer a distinct picture of what I think the next poetry will look like. But predicting the future path of poetry is like trying to predict the stock market (Wall Street being my other career). Both are relentlessly resistant to being captured in that way. And poetry the more so because it arises from what is intractable in the human spirit. (Poetry—thank goodness—is the animal that always escapes.) There is, however, another way to approach the subject: by describing how a new poetry might differ from what we have today. This may not give us an exact picture of the elephant, but when we are done we will have the elephant as described by how it differs from the other animals on Noah's ark.

The place to look for the next poetry is probably not where you might look first. Modernism was born amid an upheaval in writing that was heavily technical: Pound's Imagism and Vorticism, Gertrude Stein's automatic writing, Eliot's free verse and collage, Marianne Moore's syllabic verse. It would be natural to look for the next poetry to emerge from other kinds of experimental poetry. But this has been tried, and the innovations that followed those of Modernism (projective verse, Language poetry, concrete poetry) have not carried the art form with them. (I think a dead end is the fate that awaits any poetry that is not a record of the human spirit responding.) Technical innovation for its own sake is like the tail that tries to wag the dog. Formal verse or free, a debate which a century ago was nearly religious in its fervor, has settled into a choice of which method best suits the individual poet. And many poets use either, depending on the needs of the poem. I do believe the next era of poetry will come not from further innovations of form, but from an evolution of the sensibility based on lived experience.

The malaise that lies over poetry today has no single cause, and it will take more than a single change to restore its vitality. Let me elaborate on two of the issues I seldom hear discussed.

POETRY AS A CAREER

My own experience with MFA programs, having taught in one, is that they can make of a writer a better writer. "Better" in this case means more knowledgeable in the traditions and the contemporary scope of the art, more accomplished in the craft of writing, more aware of the nimbus of critical commentary which surrounds and to some extent drives the art. That's the good news: you graduate with a better understanding of the sophistication of your audience and of other writers. At the same time, these programs carry pressures to succumb to the intimidations implicit in a climate of careerism. They operate on a network of academic postings and prizes that reinforce the status quo. They are sustained by a system of fellowships, grants, and other subsidies that absolve recipients of the responsibility to write books that a reader who is not a specialist might enjoy, might even buy.

The MFA experience can confuse the writing of poetry, as a career, with the writing of a poem as a need or impulse. The creation of art is not a matter of fellowship. Writing a poem is a fiercely independent act. It is the furthest thing from mentors, residencies, and tenure. The one valid impulse to write a poem is not to impress but to share: wonder or anger or anguish or ecstasy. But always wonder. For the poet a sense of wonder is prerequisite to afford the possibility of the displacement of language into fresh response. Will the next Walt Whitman be an MFA graduate? Somehow it seems hard to imagine.

LIVE BROADLY, WRITE BOLDLY

At an artists' colony some years ago a fellow resident turned to me at the dinner table and said, "So where do you teach?" It was a reasonable question, since all the other artists there, although living for their art, seemed to teach for a living. Now don't get me wrong: the academic life can provide a perfectly good base of experience from which to write. Witness the quantity of fine poetry that has been written by resident poets. But the effect of how we live on what we write—a linkage which seems to me very under-recognized today—suggests that if everyone teaches in order to support their writing needs, it follows that the breadth of the aggregate experience base available to poetry may suffer. In fact, with a few important exceptions, no major American poet has come from the academic world. Wallace Stevens worked as a vice president for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company. Eliot worked for a time at Lloyds Bank, then in publishing at Faber and Faber. William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician in New Jersey. To varying degrees they all did business with the community of critics based in academia, but none wrote from a lifetime experience gained there. Poetry, like a prayer book in the wind, should be open to all pages at once.

In 1933 Ernest Hemingway went on his first safari, hunting big game in East Africa. Then he came home and wrote short stories ("The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"), the non-fiction Green Hills of Africa, and an unfinished novel, True at First Light. It is a commonplace among creative writers that we should write what we know, but Hemingway took that a step further by seeking out fresh experience in the service of his writing: ambulance driving in the Spanish civil war, marlin fishing off Cuba, running with the bulls in Pamplona. He sought to live more in order to write better. That's not to say that one has to be chased around Pamplona by bulls to gain experience. It could be something as slight as the difference between the poem one might get from a poet strolling past a construction site versus the poem one might get from the poet who is pouring concrete. Either could produce the better poem, of course, but the latter's will be more deeply informed by experience. "To change your language," as Derek Walcott says, "you must change your life."

But when did you last meet a contemporary poet who takes this approach, seeking out fresh experience or new knowledge specifically for the benefit of his or her poetry? I personally don't know many who would think to cross the street, let alone do what Hemingway did, in the hopes of getting a poem out of it. Rather it is the unconscious habit of poets to wait for the poem to come to them. (In the words of a poet friend, "You don't choose the poem, the poem chooses you.") Most contemporary poets align their role as writer with that of witness. (Mary Oliver: "I don't know exactly what a prayer is. / I do know how to pay attention." Or William Matthews: "I plan to notice everything.") They think of the artist as one more acted upon than acting. This is not to say, of course, that great poetry cannot come out of the most meager repository of lived experience. (Think of Emily Dickinson: all those years of writing in a still house, in the grip of a constant intensity.) The point rather is that poets today don't seem even to be aware that what they write will be influenced by how they live. As Auden wrote:

God may reduce you
on Judgment Day
to tears of shame,
reciting by heart
the poems you would
have written, had
your life been good.
— From Thanksgiving for a Habitat


When poets come to pay as much attention to how they live as to what they write, that may mark one new beginning for poetry. As a Zen tea master, long before the ceremony of making tea, prepares the garden for his guests, sweeps the walk, cleans and composes the room, so poets should give their first attention to the lives they lead. Indeed, if they do not, on what authority can they claim to be Shelley's "unacknowledged legislators of the world?" Indeed, if they do not, how can poetry be a moral act? How can poets answer for the effects of what they write on how their readers live? Poets should live broadly, then write boldly.

3

Poetry, in its long history, has been all things to all people. For warrior peoples, Beowulf and the Icelandic Njal's Saga told the stories of their heroes. Homer's subject, in his twin epics, was that prior world when the gods lived just over the horizon and came to visit men. Lucretius put his science and philosophy into books of hexameter verse. Virgil used the epic to give his Rome a mythical past and divine sponsorship. Chaucer brought the high and low of English society into his pentameter couplets; with his narrative gift and love of human nature he was our first short-story writer. The Elizabethan verse dramatists created an entertainment industry based on the iambic pentameter line. In all these manifestations—epic, elegy, meditation, religious devotion, satire, the public poem, verse drama—poetry was something other than the lyric poem. Yet the lyric poem by far dominates as the kind of poem written today. And the sole function of the lyric poem, ubiquitous as its footprint has become, is to personalize the subject at hand.

Stated more generously, the aim of the lyric poem is to realize what it is to be human. Lyric poets understand the world through themselves; a great lyric poem may end in a button of self-knowledge. It was lyric poetry Frost was talking about when he made his famous, understated claim for a poem as "a clarification of life—not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but‚ a momentary stay against confusion." Lyric poets pursue knowledge of and through themselves; epic poets, at the other extreme, require a knowledge of the world and how it works. That is because the epic poem renders a world order, and does so with a moral urgency.

My suggestion here is that the ubiquity of the lyric poem today, to the exclusion of other modes of poetry, is another sign of poverty in the art form. The limits of the poetry of any age come not from things the poets perceived but were unable to attain (that would be failures of craft), but rather from the things they never thought to include or never thought of value to their art. It's not just the poets; this is how one age differs from the next. In the eyes of those who succeed it, an age of poetry comes to be defined at least in part by what it was not. You cannot know an era—say, Kafka's Europe—until half a century later, when it no longer exists, when you can see what it was not, and what came out of it and displaced it. If the present era comes to be viewed by future readers as a time of worthy but not compelling poetry, it will not be for failures of craft.

At this point it is perfectly reasonable to ask that the public bear some responsibility for the plight of contemporary poetry. As a friend puts it, our culture conspires to deny us our privacy, the quiet time it takes to read a poem. But I don't agree. The human mind is a marketplace, especially when it comes to selecting one's entertainment. Elizabethan theatergoers always had the option to go watch bearbaiting instead of one of Shakespeare's plays. A study completed earlier this year, commissioned by the Poetry Foundation and conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, finds that a strong majority of readers in this country think well of poetry and will read it when they see it.

I think the responsibilities of the public to poetry are nil. No one should read poetry because they are supposed to. That's like listening to tony music that puts you to sleep when no one is looking. How often do you go to the movies out of a sense of duty? Rather, I think the responsibilities are all on the part of poetry to its public. (Poetry excuses nothing, least of all the lives of the poets.) Samuel Johnson, echoing the ancients, said that the end of art is to instruct through pleasing. Movies, novels, popular songs: the best of this entertainment survives because it has art. We are drawn back to it because it tells us about our lives; we are instructed as we are pleased. Poetry, coming from the other direction, must meet a standard of pleasure as well as profundity if it is to recover its place in American culture.

Poetry needs to find its public again, and address it. Poets can help accomplish this by bearing in mind the influences of how they live on what they write, and of what they write on how their readers live. They can rethink the traditional oppositions both within poetry (as they have done with formal verse vs. free) and between poetry and the rest of the world. They can revisit inherited attitudes regarding art for art's sake, art as therapy, and lyric poetry as the only kind of poetry. They can, like the first Impressionist painters, embrace the importance of being wrong in the eyes of the status quo—and thereby take back poetry's given ground.

The Poetry Foundation, for its part, is committed to using Ruth Lilly's historic gift to give poetry more visibility and a vigorous presence in our culture. Through its numerous programs, the Foundation seeks to discover the best poetry and place it before the largest possible audience. This is not to say that we want to "dumb down" poetry for the masses; the legacy of Poetry compels us, in all of our programs, to seek out and celebrate the best poetry we can find. Nor is it to say that readership is the sole criterion of merit. Poetry is important to the extent it embraces experience in its full complexity; for some kinds of poetry, "the largest possible audience" may be a very few readers indeed. Every poem implies its audience; our goal is to get that poem in front of its largest intended audience.

No one knows if poetry has a golden age ahead of it any time soon, but it's hard to imagine one without an audience. If you look at drama in Shakespeare's day, or the novel in the last century, or the movie today, it suggests that an art enters its golden age when it is addressed to and energized by the general audiences of its time. In a golden age of poetry the audience will not be just the workshop, where poets write for other poets, or the classroom—both of which have provided crucial sanctuary to poetry during the past half century. Its audience will lie also in that world of non-poetry readers who come to discover its deep sustenance. "To have great poets, there must be great audiences too," Whitman said, and then he wrote for them.

Groundbreaking new art comes when artists make a changed assumption about their relationship to their audience, talk to their readers in a new way, and assume they will understand. When Melville wrote, "Call me Ishmael"; when Whitman wrote, "I celebrate myself and sing myself, / and what I assume you shall assume"; when Baudelaire wrote, "Hypocrite lecteur"; when Frost, in the first poem of his first book, said, "You come too": each seemed to make transforming assumptions about his audience. Their direct address was address made somehow more direct. It held, succeeded, and literature was changed.
Originally Published: August 23, 2006

COMMENTS (140)

On December 30, 2006 at 9:08pm wrote:
The Poetry Foundation also has an obligation at the start of a new century to embrace an expanded poetry, a poetry with a wide audience, but that, like graffiti art on a city wall, is considered by some to be either vandalism or "low" art. Much loved by audiences have been Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash and Dr. Zeuss, our bards Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and
John Lennon, all the great Broadway songwriters, the current rappers, "Bye Bye Miss American Pie, took my Chevy to the levy, but the levy is dry" lyricists, the Berma Shave (sp?) ad writers, and, of course, the writer of "Howl." Fenton and Forche have brought journalism to recent poetry, Carson like Housman the classics.
The United States itself is numbed down at this time by confusing leadership and an internalized culture shock, and we hope the great poems that Yeats, Auden and the Silver Age Russians wrote are being injested, but the broad audience loves the lyre and popular poetry, I have always thought, is very welcomed, as is Hopkins who had no popular audience at all. I think the univeristy issue is not relevant in the sense that history tells us a great poem can come from anywhere, including a library at Hull.

On March 14, 2007 at 11:29am Thomas Patrick Brennan wrote:
As a young man preparing to enter his twenty-first year, a man rooted in the dreams of those long dead, it seems to me that only one kind of person has the power to set the world aflame when all seems chill: for in every Age there is but a handful of souls ardent enough and passionate enough to let their fires gleam from their eyes and pour from their tongues, as though they were lamps or lanterns casting a warm glow on dark and clouded things; and anyone who would seek to do so would know this, that there shall in every Age be only but a few who may do this, and Providence raises them to height even as it casts them down, as a wind whirling leaves in the Breath of Time.

On March 16, 2007 at 11:41am Greg Perry wrote:
I think you've got it, for the most part. Poetry for poets has a hold on it and won't let go. One thing to think about is how music today, or maybe music, for me, thirty years or more ago, captures the wonder that poetry doesn't any longer. You had your Van Morrisons and your Bob Dylans and your John Lennons then, and now you might have your Josh Ritters or your Arcade Fires. You listen and you feel. Not to go Barry Manilow on you, but where's the feeling, the soul, the music in poetry today. Academic indeed: school needs to be out Forever! Right, Alice?

On April 6, 2007 at 2:13pm Patrick Hartigan wrote:
Frankly, I think poetry now is fine. It's not like now is forever. It's now, and work gets done, and that work reflects our times and ourselves in ways we cannot even comprehend, and that's all there is to it. I am willing to face my Maker with what I have done, and so I suspect is everyone else within earshot of this discussion.

On May 17, 2007 at 8:15am Alexa Winters wrote:
Poetry won't be popular until it appears in popular media. That's the media that everybody reads and everybody sees, the media that exists everywhere around us. The Word on the Street.

The same goes for short stories -- for all literature, in fact. Why don't newspapers or popular magazines print these forms? Why can't they have a poetry & story section? What about popular web sites? Why is it only in the literary press, the small press, the tiny academic journals that no-one reads? As a result, literature's gotten crude, and cute, and obscure -- nobody'd want to read it, no newspaper would print it. But what about good fine poems, good fine stories, who will nuture that? Who speaks for that, do you?

So long as literature is hidden like this, it's lost -- irrelevant to the culture around it.

On June 7, 2007 at 7:14pm Jacqueline Miller Byrd wrote:
This piece is brilliant and so inspirational.
It says to me, to us: be informed intellectuals, know craft, know the masters...but write boldly...change language...change life. The poem implies the audience --- with something new. Poetry lives.
Thank you...John Barr for the message.
Podcast this one!
JMB...DC

On June 12, 2007 at 10:03am Weezie Cooper wrote:
I like what you have to say. Who's going to read and commit to memory poetry that so convoluted and dreary. I think of and recite poems that my second graders read, and you know what they are edifying.We gotta stop making poetry a dusty musty shelved experience that is not apart of life.

EXercising

First World tries to walk ten blocks,
Third World women washing on rocks,

First World fat from such excess,
Third World thin from such distress,

First World heart so clogged with fat,
Third World begs for such as that,

Choose one won't you, do it now,
Choice made for me don't know how.

Weezie Cooper

On November 15, 2008 at 11:05am Sankari Prasad Sarkar wrote:
Poetry as an art form has waited too long to be widely appreciated and,

if not earlier, its time has come.

Soon I shall widen the horizon of poetry,encompass modernism and

increased readership.

Poetry will never be the same.Surely it will be read, re-read by masses and

linger long.

On January 29, 2009 at 12:37pm mly wrote:
Love is what we're trying to say.

On March 3, 2009 at 12:24pm Elizabeth Kelly wrote:
I am an unpublished poet who has gained new inspiration from digesting this essay. Thank you for the transfusion of new blood!

On March 14, 2009 at 9:44pm E. Hayes wrote:
March 15

The writer knows his field and his contemporaries, and can write sentences that ripple and convince.

But his call for a "new poetry" overlooks something: the old forms, that are still taught as the norm as far as the 12th grade, may be the beckoning future.

Rhyme, substance, thrilling high-mindedness - these are all qualities of "old poetry." Wouldn't we be glad if another Tennyson delivered us from the chaos of Eliot?

Of course you can't publish this.

On March 24, 2009 at 9:36pm Pharmk537 wrote:
Very nice site!

On March 29, 2009 at 3:25pm Muse wrote:
Poetry in this country

is ready for something new?

We are at the start of a century,

and that, in the past, has marked

new beginnings for the art?

Is poetry ready for something new?

Poetry is always something new.

In fact, poetry is never old or young,

real poetry lasts and ageless

that shines thru time.

Great poets don't need good audience,

nor they beg or sell, or work their butt off

for some crest or crown to impress.

For their work calls their audience,

as 'Homer' and Shakespeare,

they simply speak for and to commons,

no editors or critics to judge,

and lads don't need to be in school

to grasp the meaning of sayings.

Today's audience is changed, not guided by poetry art, but led by market and titled names. Dead are worshiped, and plastic breasts are praised. But poetry is new, never need a change.

I have seen the golden days,

when emperors searched for poems.

They departed from the academic gate,

roamed to the common road,

where true philo lived, and great poets sang, no more fancy words, showy speech, vain glories of stinky choke...

that poetry was not a slave of learned,

but liberally proclaimed for common love.

Oh there the poet goes, there poetry roams...

never carved on sticks,

that would shatter like sand;

never ruled by rhythm,

that would leave out its sense;

never judged by forms,

as how we define human in dictionary;

and never need to be prized or honored

for the poet's 'achievement'.

Think of Emily Dickinson...

New poetry? or Old poetry?

if the poetry I've never read, are new;

But the ones I read everyday, are still new, and forever new!

Muse:-)

On May 29, 2009 at 4:13pm gerald hopman wrote:
astound the innocent---but gently and with beauty and a laugh--if possible

On July 3, 2009 at 10:59am gerald.hopman wrote:
poet's prize

can it be used?
Can its bed of charms and hopes serve
the waking of reason's amazement?

On July 3, 2009 at 4:21pm gerald hopman wrote:
A poet's object is not to tell what actually happened but what could or would happen either probably or inevitably. For this reason poetry is something more scientific and serious than history, because poetry tends to give general rules while history gives facts.
Aristotle, "Poetics"

On July 6, 2009 at 8:52am gerald hopman wrote:
meter frames the spirit of a nation's ambition

or

the dimensions and momentum of cultural decline are in ratio to the evidence of tonal debasement and thematic squalor in common talk through the building of verses

On August 16, 2009 at 1:37pm John Mulligan wrote:
Great essay. I read it at a time when I wondered if I should have gone to college to become a teaching poet. When I was young I scorned the thought and went out and lived a very different life. I've been writing poetry for 42 years, with very little publishing. And yet, to me, its originality holds up and I am glad it was never academized. It never found an audience but it never lived in an office either.

On September 17, 2009 at 11:40am Peter O' Neill wrote:

Bravo John Barr, An incredibly bold and brave essay which sustainingly, smacks of the truth at every reading. To be honest, I had despaired of ever witnessing such an event, and what makes your article all the more pertinant is that it is written from one in a position such as you are. Seriously, I applaud you. I come from Ireland, a country you are well familiar with, and as you describe America, so too are we plagued with the same ills, poetrywise. Here too poets are published in academic journals which the general public, quite possibly, does not even know exist, and the content, for the greater part, is, of course, technically superb, for all of the contributors have their Masters in Creative Writing, and if they don't, are soon too have... but, as for content... totally devoid of any relevance to any "ordinary" person's life. In short, as you say, the 'acceptable' speak is now a form of colourless, uniform of collected imaging, careerist in orientation... Rather sad really, considering that what we are discussing is poetry. Once again, how write you are. Congrats John Barr. P.S - Don't be too surprised to find my unpublished, collected works in the mail within the next few days! (PPS I'm not joking!!!) All the very best, Peter

On November 25, 2009 at 5:19pm Michael Harmon wrote:
This is a good article.
In my experience, I have run across what I term "academic" poets and "street" poets, those whose poetry has developed in the cocoon of academia, and those whose poetry has developed from their own, non-academic, experiences. When listening to them read their own work, I could always tell which "type" they were: the "street" poets were, as one might expect, tremendously varied; but the "academics" always had the same stilted rhythm, the same self-important, self-righteous, delivery. The "academic" poems could be technically excellent. After a time, however, I found, once I had identified that they were an "academic", that I would almost immediately stop paying attention. I have a B.A. in English Literature and a B.S. in Computer Information Systems. So, this is not sour grapes talking.

On March 21, 2010 at 1:24am A. P. Hoban wrote:

The essay by Mr. Barr makes me feel like a dog with my head thrust through the window of a fast moving vehicle. I want to get my tongue tastng that air and look around. Wow. Look at that; look at this. Boy this smells good; over here it doesn't. Put me down as one happy dog! I love to read everyone's stuff. I learn about you and the world. I can leave my own and enter yours. It's especially good to romp in my simple minded dog like way without worrying who is the greatest or least dog among us. That takes away from the unbridled excitement when I bit the air. That''s all I have to say. For now.

On April 21, 2010 at 10:36am Ralph Tathagata wrote:
What a thought-provoking essay? As a practicing poet in a part of the world (Nigeria) where popular preoccupations are mundanely fixated on existential survival, I had always wondered if I was not doing something that posterity will look back and count me as one of the most mindless loafers of my generation. But reading this essay has rejuvenated my creative spirit once again. I subscribe to the fact that 21st century poetry must create and attract its audience in any part of the world it might be coming from. Meanwhile, I still maintain that poetry, right from the time of Homer, has never been for all. Although it might be more popular in one generation than the other, but it still remains the most sublime form of art. So long as humans continue to fall in love without knowing why, good poetry cannot be logically explained or reduced to market indices and therefore is not for mass consumption. Poets speak the cries and joys of their souls, but these cries and joys are not heard by those who pursue profit and power. As a poet, I feel therefore I am. But I am not oblivious of the fact that I operate in a world that has lost every sense of feeling. I totally agree with Barr that when poets come to pay as much attention to how they live as to what they write, that may mark one new beginning for poetry. I also agree that poets should give their first attention to the lives they lead and should also live broadly in order to write boldly.

On May 12, 2010 at 2:08pm Larry Blumenfeld wrote:
I consider myself a serious poet whose calling has nothing to do with the MFA stifle. I live in and inhale the cosmos, refusing the status quo at every step I take. That's poetry!

On June 29, 2010 at 2:33pm David LaRue Alexander wrote:
Mr. Barr,

Your insight is astounding. Unfortunately, as for most prophets you will be criticized rather than revered.

On October 18, 2010 at 3:05pm K.G.UNNIKRISHNAN wrote:
Dear Barr
Your brainstorming article is highly interesting and enjoyable.Poetry will flourish if the poets try to write with emphathy rather than sympathy about the suffering,suffocated,sidelined humanbeings around the world,irrespective of country, caste, creed or religion. The press and the media have a decisive role to play in this realm.
with great admiration
K.G.Unnikrishnan [a poet,short story writer fromCochin, Kerala, India

On November 16, 2010 at 11:11am K. Quigley wrote:
I enjoyed this insight on modern poetry. I
personally liked Hemingway's approach to
creating poems. If more people felt new
experiences like Hemingway, maybe
poetry wouldn't be so somber and
sympathetic.

On November 16, 2010 at 3:06pm Melissa Bosshart wrote:
As a student who has recently come through the teachings of poetry in the public school system, I was intrigued by the insight and thought in this paper. Before reading this I hadn't given much thought to to the popularity of poetry or how poetry could be adapted to increase public interest. In my mind I had set parameters of what poetry was and this article made me think that stretching those parameters may just shake things up and make poetry a more interesting for everyone.

On November 16, 2010 at 9:56pm Jackie Cyz wrote:
I think its interesting to imply that the fading of poetry is due to the time changing and the poetry style struggling to match the changing times

On November 16, 2010 at 9:56pm Molly wrote:
I think that the most interesting part of the article was the part about poetry needing to be more about action and less about attitude. I think that when poets get out into the world and push the boundaries of their lives, their poems will reflect it and push boundaries as well.

On November 16, 2010 at 10:41pm Brad Loren wrote:
I thought the discussion of a "new poetry"
was really interesting. We have always
spent a lot of time in school trying to
decipher old poems, and then relate them
to our own lives. Many times, the
difference in time period obviously poses a
problem. The idea that a entirely new type
of poetry that will appeal to our era was
very fascinating.

On November 16, 2010 at 11:19pm Amanda P. wrote:
I agree with the claim that most poetry seems to be mainly consumed in academic settings versus for the sole purpose of enjoyment. I believe that other forms of poetry such as music have been able to provide a suitable way for the public to experience emotion through art. Music can overcome the monotonous tone of poetry that was mentioned above because the music and lyrics can work together to suit a whole range of moods. The broad audience that the music industry has been able to reach might be eliminating some of the audience that would otherwise seek out poetry to get the same kind of emotional satisfaction.

On November 16, 2010 at 11:27pm Evan Holleran wrote:
I strongly agree with Hemingway's method of writing poetry. Poetry out of personal experience creates a realism that could lead modern poetry back into the public eye.

On November 17, 2010 at 12:48am Lauren Stafford wrote:
This article gave wonderful incite as to
how poetry really functions. Poetry has
been apart of our culture and has been
melded and influenced by the public.
Modern poetry has changed since it's
origin based on our interests!

On November 17, 2010 at 9:49am Anna Mangano wrote:
I agree with Mr. Barr. I find poetry difficult to read because I am always expecting dreary undertones. I would find poetry more interesting if it was written about the joys in life. I find it much easier to share the joy in life than read about someone's sorrows.

On November 17, 2010 at 9:53am Anna Mangano wrote:
I agree with Mr. Barr, poetry is not as common in the United States because of its dreary undertones. I would find poetry much more interesting to read if it spoke about the joys in life, not someone's sorrows. It is easier for me to read something that is upbeat, rather than something depressing.

On November 17, 2010 at 9:55am Luke Zanoni wrote:
I completely agree with Barr. Poetry has separated itself from the world of other
arts and the modern world. Even though
Barr doesn't offer a solution to spark
interest and bring richness back to this
form of writing, I do believe he hints at
one by pointing out that many poets
today only write for other poets. Poetry
needs to come out of the academic
setting. In order to excite our culture
about poetry we need to stop separating
it from all other aspects of life. Poetry
needs to become an integral part of
movies, tv shows, and the like. Film is
the most accepted form of art in our
time. In order for poetry to make a
comeback it needs to first collaborate
with other forms of art that people are
already excited about. Poetry needs to
be taken out of its shell and released
from its isolated state, which right now unnecessarily suppresses its potential.

On November 17, 2010 at 10:08am Anne M wrote:
I thought this article was really interesting, especially on how the new poetry will come around. The idea that academics have their place but don't really encourage originality really hit me, and I think it will be very interesting to see where a new style begins.

On November 17, 2010 at 10:25am Anna Chalfin wrote:
Barr's points on the responsibility of rejuvenating poetry were very interesting. He says according to the survey a strong majority of readers think strongly of poetry and will read it when they see it -- I think that is almost out of duty. Otherwise wouldn't the readers be searching it out? Society sees poetry as an important and intellectual art form that captures so much emotion and meaning. But his point about the human mind being a market place for entertainment is valid. People recognize its importance but do not tend to read it often enough because it is separated from other art forms and does seem to have a sad undertone.

On November 17, 2010 at 10:58am Kelsy Westman wrote:
I do not completely agree with Mr. Barr, although he raises some very good points. I do agree, it is time for something new, but I disliked how he made it sound as if it is the duty of poets to find something new, and that the audience plays no part in bringing poetry to the forefront once again. He quotes Whitman, saying "To have great poets, there must be great audiences too." He also mentions a study in which they found a majority of people will read poetry, "when they see it." People today, particularly young people, don't really give poetry a chance. They need the poem pushed in front of their face if they'll even consider reading it. I am not saying the audience needs to read poetry out of a sense of duty, but they do need to be open to reading new poetry.

On November 17, 2010 at 11:07am Catherine Kerwin wrote:
I agree with Barr's opinion that poetry is in
need of something new. It must relate to
today's reality before the public can
embrace it.

On November 17, 2010 at 2:55pm Christine wrote:
I disagree with Mr. Barr. I feel poetry has a stong self-identity and by changing its face would ruin it. To me, poetry is a mystery and only certain people can solve it and that is what makes it unique. Personally, I do not feel we need any more "popular" things (music, books, tv, etc.) that do not bring about challenges but we need more challenging things like poetry.

On December 13, 2010 at 5:15am Joy Gaines-Friedler wrote:
Poetry is a literary art. Art is subjective and controversial. What I really appreciate about Barr's piece is the "permission" to allow the writer to write what he or she feels she must write, rather than what an MFA program facilitator or group might be "accepting" as "correct."

On April 24, 2011 at 11:42pm Samuel wrote:
I think this article gets right to the heart of poetry's future. I am
currently studying at the University of Iowa as an undergraduate and I
recently asked my poetry teacher (an MFA student here) what he
wants to do with his degree. His response of "I don't know" highlights
a major issue with Poetry MFA programs. They don't teach innovation,
experience, exploration. Those things have to be innate and
important to the individual. Many who may enjoy poetry apply to
these programs with no specific goal, hoping to find their answer in
the programs. These programs can only teach the past; we learn by
studying history.
But I do not believe poetry can be resurrected by a person studying
the past. Poetry must be created by new experience and bold ideas,
just like this article has stated. A new mood about poetry must also
be felt:poetry is not a death sentence or a starving artist's
occupation, poetry is inspiration, exploration, and reflection.
My goal of becoming a Hip-Hop artist, (and I know many people who
read this will not respect this goal as that of a poet; and in that case,
you're ignorant) has never been marred with doubts about how to
make money or what to do with an education in poetry or music. I
live to make poetry and Hip-Hop, I don't make poetry to live.
Yet the goal of an MFA program is to eventually make poetry to live.
Break out of the chains of formal education's practical application of
that which we learn and use the knowledge to build off of and be
inspired by.
Poets must create their own unique life and writing style because
people can connect to other's lives and experiences, not
interpretations of products of other's lives.

On April 25, 2011 at 11:38am Amber wrote:
Poetry has always been very strong in the schools and I
do have to agree that the schools are the only place
that the majority of poetry is read. There is some in
store in which maybe someone will pick up and read but
it seems in today society that many people would rather
read a novel. There is still a possibility that in this
era poetry is just not popular but that is not to say
that it won't be down the road. As culture changes
people like new and different things so it may not be
what is being written or even how it is being written it
could just be that our society's likes are changing.

On April 25, 2011 at 3:23pm Joel wrote:
One point that I agree with is that most poets today
really do write in very much the same way that poets
around 100 years ago wrote, which probably has
contributed a lot to the decline in popularity of poetry
over the years. Poetry has become an art form which many
consider to be old fashioned, and like other art forms
such as music and film, the general audience is less
likely to look into the more old fashioned examples of
the art than the newer, more up-to-date styles of the
art, and as poetry has not become up-to-date, people
lose interest in it, and look elsewhere for their
entertainment.

On April 25, 2011 at 3:40pm Rachel Wilensky wrote:
As a freshman in college, I am happy to say that my high school
experience with poetry did not completely turn me away from it.
However, I am in agreement with this analysis of the current state of
poetry. I feel that it is time for a revolution in poetry so myself and
my classmates can look forward to the content of the poetry we read
not just the (often) shorter length of it. It is time for poetry to reflect
our developing and globalizing world, not putter along in the past,
which it appears MFA programs are allowing far too much of. The
bubble of academia needs to be broken for poetry to thrive in our
time because appreciation of our predecessors can only provide so
much help in expanding the field. The United States is still an
incredibly young nation and our desperation for economic success
should no longer stifle the creative potential of our developing minds.

On April 25, 2011 at 3:58pm Lindsay wrote:
I don't agree with Mr. Barr's stance that poetry must be made more relatablet to the masses. I believe it is the fact that poetry can be so esoteric that makes it unique, even if that means it can only be enjoyed by certain audiences. So much of American culture is already marketed towards the masses, which means we need to protect the little pockets of individuality that are left in our society, poetry being one of them.

On April 25, 2011 at 6:31pm Cole Smith wrote:
I agree with the Barr's opinion that poetry is in need of something
new. Today, it seems that the only way people will read poetry is if
they are required to. You should not have a sense of duty when you
read poetry. Our culture is always changing and I believe that today's
poets should also try to change along with our culture. Instead of
studying the past, MFA programs should teach their students about
the culture that surrounds them and how they themselves, as poets,
fit into this culture. Barr quotes Whitman, saying "To have great
poets, there must be great audiences too." However, I believe that to
have great audiences, there must also be great poets and I believe
that today's poets can provide their audiences with great poetry if
they stop trying to imitate poetry of the past and instead take a look
at themselves and the world around them.

On April 25, 2011 at 7:48pm Patrick Korienek wrote:
Poetry to me is very boring. In high school we read it every now and
then for one of my english classes and it just didn't catch my interest
and couldn't really make a connection with it like I can do with many
other forms of literature. I believe what Barr said about poet's
needing to connect more with their audience like authors do in short
stories is a good way to help get poetry into it's "golden age" again.
They need think about what the are writing and get out of the olden
days and right more current to connect with the new generation of
readers. In my opinion no one wants to read about old romance and
things about that genre. This is a new generation and these poet's
need to get with the new trends otherwise poetry will never be what it
used to be.

On April 25, 2011 at 7:53pm Tom Curran wrote:
I agree with Barr with the fact that poetry is not what it used to be. The world has changed so the poets need to change their style as well in order to keep up. America has grown tired of today's poetry because poets are still writing the same way as poets did over 100 years ago. Today's poets need to adapt to a new style that could expand their audience. I think Barr made a great point that the audience should want to read the poem and not feel like they are being forced to read it. If today's poems are more appealing and entertaining then they might become popular again. Barr pointed out that Hemingway used to travel so he could write about his experiences, and I think that this is one of the better ways to expand their audience. People are more likely to read poems in today's society if they are about an interesting experience that they can relate to. Today's poets should travel to different countries and focus their material on that, in order gain a bigger audience.

On April 25, 2011 at 8:21pm Nick M wrote:
A professor of mine once told my class that one should
not go to school to learn to write. This idea is
reflected by Barr in his article, and I agree with the
concept. He speaks frequently of the MFA programs and
poetry as a career, when in reality poetry should be
something that isn't taught but rather expressed from
emotion and experience. While I have no doubt that these
programs are in some way beneficial to those in them, I
think that Barr has a great point when he says poets may
be better off experiencing many different ways of life,
rather than observing them or reading about them.

Barr also speaks of a revolutionary change of poetry - a
break from the confined nature of poetry created by the
MFA programs and belief that poetry should be written in
certain ways. I'm not so sure a revolutionary change
will occur, but I do agree that there should be less
restriction in the existing programs. Writers should not
be advised to write in specific styles, but instead to
pursue any level of creativity they wish to. No drastic
changes need to be made to revitalize the poetry
community, just gradual progression from the styles of
the previous centuries.

On April 25, 2011 at 8:48pm Alexandra McGill wrote:
Amidst the glow of a computer screen,
it is easy to advise poets of the new century
to abandon academia and "experience" their poems
like the poets of earlier centeries.
However unlike Hemingway, poets of today are subject
to a highly specialized society.
In the early 19th and 20th centuries, you would have no problem picking up odd jobs to cover expenses while
you "experienced" your future poems.
Presently--and especially in this economy--
these jobs are few and far between.
While I do agree that this lifestyle would be ideal for a poet, it is currently not feasible.
Nor, do I think it will ever again be feasible.
Poets love poetry; and thus they enter the exclusive world of academia to establish a means of funding what they love.
Is this not what everyone wants in a career--
to get paid for doing what you love?

The problem that exists with poetry today has little to do with poetry itself. Our society has become dependent the visual. This is why nearly every great work of literature has been turned into a
"#1 blockbuster hit!"
For poetry to become revelant in today's society,
our people need to change; not our poets.

"Weak eyes are fondest of glittering objects."
--Thomas Carlyle

On April 25, 2011 at 9:05pm Thomas wrote:
The author has very little control of how successful he/she is and this
is the result of a society in which very few people are interested in
poetry. The reason few people are interested in this area is because,
like Barr says, poetry is simply not around us in our everyday life. One
must go out of their way in order to experience good lyrical poetry
instead of it being right in front of their eyes. If poetry was more
accessible in popular newspapers and magazines then perhaps it
would become more popular and poets could designate their time to
being full time writers, opposed to teachers and writers.

On April 25, 2011 at 9:10pm Leigh Null wrote:
When I hear "poetry" I cringe. It is something I understand as needing respect as an art form, but frankly a lot of times, I simply can't relate. Like the article discusses, contemporary poetry seems to be written in regards to marketability. It fails to be express the world as it is, and instead aims at what the world wants to hear. This makes poetry empty and not able to relate to the poet or the reader.
Perhaps the poetry of centuries past has evolved and combined with the art form of music to access the masses. When I hear a song's lyrics, often times they don't logically make sense ( much like a poem) but there is something there in between the verses that sustains me and some how summarizes of my feeling in a way I myself could not. Art changes with the times, perhaps song lyrics are just poetry's new manifest.

On April 25, 2011 at 11:07pm Lyndsey Kent wrote:
I found it interesting when Barr brought up poetry as a
career. I'm not an English major, but I would think it
would be difficult to critique someone's work. Poetry
is a very personal way of writing. I have no doubt that
anyone considering poetry as a career path would need a
thorough knowledge of its history, but I think it would
be against everything that poetry stands for to say that
one's work is "bad" or "not up to par". This being
said, I do believe that our nation is in need of a wave
of poetry.

On April 25, 2011 at 11:29pm Alyssa wrote:
I think Mr. Barr is correct in saying that interest in poetry does appear to be dying. However whether or not the poets are to blame could be argued. We live in a world were so many rely on technology. Your local bookstores are going out of business due to the ease ebooks provide to consumers. What people buy and what people will read has a large part to do with marketing, and poetry books are not being marketed. I cannot recall the last time I read or even heard of a poetry book being released. Movies, music, and games are are being heavily marketed and they're taking away from the appeal of a good book. The world is in a constant state of change thanks to technology and poetry will have to adapt if there is any hope to bring in new audiences.

On April 25, 2011 at 11:57pm Eric M. wrote:
I don’t think that poetry has died. But I agree that poetry would change just as everything changes with time and modernizes itself. As far poetry as a career, I think real poets used poetry as a way of expressing themselves and pouring out their thoughts or imagination. I do agree that poetry is not as popular today and that is because of the change art in time.

On April 26, 2011 at 12:11am Ashley Lorenz wrote:
Poetry has changed over the course of history. It has slowly but surely adapted to the culture of the time. While I agree with Barr's comments that today's poetry is not like the poetry of past centuries, I disagree with his implications that this is a bad thing. The culture of today is reflected in today's poetry. If today's poets were to write like those prior to them, then they wouldn't be reflecting this time period.

However, I do agree with Barr in that people show less of an interest with poetry today. His comment about poetry in today's newspapers really made me think. In high school, I was the editor in chief of my school newspaper. One of the students on staff regularly put poems into the paper, and I would get feedback from other highschool students about her poems. They read them, yes, but they would commonly ask me why we ran them in the paper. I would often respond with "because we are trying to reflect the student body in every area of the paper".
It is true that newspapers show less and less poetry. I think it is because the readers of the papers find it difficult to understand some poems. I know that I have trouble interpreting poetry a lot of the time.

On April 26, 2011 at 1:14am Grant wrote:
This is a very well written essay, and I would have to
agree with the position it takes. One argument that I
thought was particularly strong was the Hemingway example.
More poets should go out and get their ideas from actual
first hand experiences. Not everything can be learned in a
classroom, and as Barr stated: "Will the next Walt Whitman
be an MFA graduate? Somehow it seems hard to imagine."

On April 26, 2011 at 1:15am David wrote:
I agree with what Mr. Barr was saying about how thousands of students have been trained to think of poetry as a career and that is has something to do with credentials and academic subsidies, is not true. When I think of Poetry, I see it as an art. It is something that anyone can write, and someone who has not gone through the schooling for poetry, has the potential to write better poetry then that student. Poetry is an art the derives from the creativity of individuals, and not necessarily from the academic credentials one has. It will be the individuals who are considered more of an artist then a student who will be the poets who drive in a new era of poetry and change the standards for which many poets write now.

On April 26, 2011 at 1:25am Connor Dougherty wrote:
In regards to the future of poetry, I feel as though it will become endangered. While poets will always exist, I think as technology increases and the connections between humans [internet, cell phones, etc.] poetry will become more and more spark noted/summarized. There is already "shakespere for dummmies", because those are the most commonly assigned poems. But as more assignments are completed, more poems will be available in summarized form. However, there are many events going on now that would provide for good inspiration for poets. For example, the Japan disaster, wars, Obama being elected president etc.

On April 26, 2011 at 7:44am Jessica Wittry wrote:
I think that the main thing is that poetry is kept from the
public.There's nothing that could let someone recieve a glimpse of
poetry outside of poetry books, which, if they've never read before,
they probably won't.

In my high school, the focus was on the student's ability to write
poetry according to very standard formulas that we were given. There
was no "Go to the internet/library and read some," which certainly
kept us from discovering that, hey, poetry is not only something for
stuffy bookish people, but is actually pretty cool. There were many
books of poetry in the school library, but no one ever seemed to read
them. I had to pick some poems for a speech performance, and
several of the books I looked through hadn't been checked out in
years. Khalil Gibran hadn't been checked out since 1976! Over thirty
years had gone by and not one person had read that book. And if I
hadn't needed to find some poetry to go with my prose, I wouldn't
have either.

On April 26, 2011 at 9:38am Michael wrote:
If this piece is meant to speculate about the future of
poetry, I suppose the only answer capable of
withstanding the test of time is "We don't know."
Mr. Barr cites Pound, Hemingway, Eliot, and Stein - all
eminent writers, but nonetheless members of an extinct
school of writing. Modernism was great, but it's dead. I
don't think that this sentiment is exclusive to writing
- take a look at sports, business, or wherever you'd
like to pick your anecdotes from. Nobody will ever have
the slugging stats that Babe Ruth put up; nobody
anticipated it before him and nobody has been able to
imitate it in the decades to follow. If business is your
thing, look at the fortunes amassed by Ford, Vanderbilt
and Carnegie in the span of a few decades; that sort of
individual piloting of corporate empires was
unprecedented once and unmatched since. In short, these
people - like eminent poets - were the right people at
the right time. I believe you'll find examples of
fleeting brilliance anywhere you look, provided you look
hard enough.
But to identify where this paradigm shift of poetry
might occur - even the most basic properties that must
change, as Mr. Barr does - seems like a terrible waste
of energy. The frontier of American business assuredly
did -not- need corporate empires when Carnegie,
Rockefeller and Vanderbilt emerged. Here's a more
tractable example: You can make a case that modernism
emerged from the 'flaws' of realism, but it's ten times
more difficult to identify *why* it occurred when it
did, or why it took the form that it did. There are a
lot of ways to incite a rebellion against the
conventions of the bourgeois, and any attempt to justify
why modernism had to pop up from the ashes of realism
seems to me to be unsettlingly reliant on tautological
reasoning. My point is that any attempt to tie
evolutions in literary form might sound reasonable at
first glance, but it doesn't carry much weight - you're
looking for confirmation, and in a best-case scenario
you're going to confirm one out of the infinite number
of permutations that literature could have proceeded
through out of the 'flaws' in a previous iteration.
I suspect it has something to do with the players
involved - for could modernism have popped up without
Eliot, Fitzgerald, Stein or Hemingway? - and the
conditions that these individuals found themselves in.
Beyond those vague constraints, I don't know.

Does poetry need a re-evaluation? Sure.
How does that come about, and what form does it take?
Nobody knows.

On April 26, 2011 at 10:35am Mike Faust wrote:
I kind of disagree with Mr. Barr, he said, “Poetry in this country is ready for something new.” I don’t know if that is fully correct. Poetry in my mind is an older style of writing and I think it will stay that way for a very long time because that is just the way the world is. Take for instance technology, young kids at ages seven and up are able to get on a computer and do about what ever they want but when it comes to most elderly people they are unable to find the start button to turn on the computer. I believe that’s why poety is still an older style of writing because people who write poetry are usually older people and they don’t want to get out of there comfort zone.

On April 26, 2011 at 10:38am Nicole Engle wrote:
I think we need to start searching for poetry in different places. Our
world has changed, especially with all the use of technology. We look
for poetry in published book and such but take a look at facebook
one day and you will see numerous poems written about real life,
nothing taught in a class on their. People now write on facebook, or
on twitter, or other such places their true feelings. They write of their
experiences and share it with their followers, which is indeed the best
audience because they are the ones who care. Poetry in places like
facebook are truthful and full of life experience. It isn't something
just made up in class or taught. Maybe if we start looking in different
places we will find poetry and it will make its way back just taking a
different path.

On April 26, 2011 at 10:57am Amber Hain wrote:
I agree with Mr. Barr when he said, “No one should read poetry because they are supposed to. That's like listening to tony music that puts you to sleep when no one is looking.” I feel like when I read a poem and I don’t like it, and I’m forced to read it just gives me a bad overview to poetry as a whole. I feel like a lot of kids have my same feelings too.

On April 26, 2011 at 11:07am zhenzhen rao wrote:

I agree with the author’s point that, “with a few important exceptions, no major American poet has come from the academic world.” We are living in a fast pace world. The majority cares more about how to find a decent job and live efficiently. Young people usually get business or science degrees from college experiences. However, as the author mentions, we don’t have to spend lifetime studying in poetry. Great poetry comes from life experiences. If you are enthusiastic about your life, you can live like a poet. You don’t have to give up your poet dream simply because you want a better life. Instead, poetry gives you a better understanding of life itself. We may learn from the story that Eliot worked for a time at Lloyds Bank, then in publishing at Faber and Faber. William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician in New Jersey.

On April 26, 2011 at 11:12am Zhenzhen Rao wrote:
I agree with the author’s point that, “with a few important exceptions, no major American poet has come from the academic world.” We are living in a fast pace world. The majority cares more about how to find a decent job and live efficiently. Young people usually get business or science degrees from college experiences. However, as the author mentions, we don’t have to spend lifetime studying in poetry. Great poetry comes from life experiences. If you are enthusiastic about your life, you can live like a poet. You don’t have to give up your poet dream simply because you want a better life. Instead, poetry gives you a better understanding of life itself. We may learn from the story that Eliot worked for a time at Lloyds Bank, then in publishing at Faber and Faber. William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician in New Jersey.

On April 26, 2011 at 11:42am Hayley Perrin wrote:
This is a great article that makes some very strong points and is well supported. I would agree that poetry in written form is overlooked, mostly because it is invisible to the media. While it is taught in school, students generally do not respond well to something they are obligated to read and for as few words that are written, it requires more time to piece together the challenging plots or morals than it does to read a poem so the ideas are easily forgotten. The way I see it, musical lyrics are a form of poetry, but the rhythm and vocal expression make the words more meaningful. In this case, there are sad songs that are equally popular, so I believe the claim that people are not interested in reading about trouble or suffering is false. Poems can be given a second chance if the poets first spice up the pattern of their writing and publish in more popular media sources. Also, I understand that this type of writing can be an outlet for feelings, but from a reader’s perspective the point is void if the audience has not had that experience. Instead of the author describing how he/she feels, they have to make the reader feel the same pain/joy/etc.

On April 26, 2011 at 11:44am Alex Evans wrote:
I do not see the point of poetry in today's society. A fast-paced world
hardly recognizes the art of poetry and in my opinion less and less
people are interested in the art anymore. The only poetry that I believe
is still widely accepted in the 21st century is through music and
lyricism. With this in mind I believe poetry of the past is becoming less
and less important to modern society.

On April 26, 2011 at 12:31pm Taylor Schafbuch wrote:
What a great article this piece is with a lot of insight into poetry's declining popularity. I believe the strongest point in this article is how poets and poetry must adjust to the time period and the current reality in order to draw an audience. The work has to be relevant to what is going on in the world and something people want to read. It also needs to relfect the current mood of society in general. I also found it interesting when he discussed the occupations of current poets as being almost all teachers. It makes it seem like writing poetry is less of a passion and more of a job.

On April 26, 2011 at 12:34pm Jessica wrote:
I have not been an avid reader and lover of poetry, perhaps because I find much recent contemporary poetry to be dry and void of substance or wonder. I agree with the author in some aspects regarding the preparation of poets to understand the technical elements of poetry and the different styles, but many seem to write to impress, not to explore and experience. However, I went to a poetry reading a few weeks ago and loved it. It was honest, raw, and fresh. I do not know if all of them went to school, but I know one woman did not. It was real. This is not to say that all students who get their MFA are stunted in their ability to access their emotions. I myself am a student at college, though not studying poetry (obviously). Yet when students are constantly rewarded or punished for their honest work they put out in the open, I believe after a time it would begin to affect them and produce more mechanical, "correct" writers.

On April 26, 2011 at 12:51pm Brooke Elliff wrote:
I personally am not a huge fan of poetry, but I can stand it. But I agree
that these days, people just don't seem as interested as in earlier times.
The closest thing to poetry today that everyone likes is music and the
lyrics. Maybe people just don't understand that music is sometimes a
form of poetry, and if they realized that, they would possibly like poetry
more because they can sometimes relate.

On April 26, 2011 at 12:51pm Corey Noel wrote:
Although I find this to be very interesting, I disagree with Barr when
he says that poetry is stagnant and sort of at a stand still. Poetry is
not for everyone, and also there are different types of poetry to suit
everyone's needs. Romantic, Sports, Holiday, Death, Love and so
many more. The way authors are writing has been the same for
hundreds of years and I see no reason to change. I am not the
biggest fan of poetry but I find that there are always some that cause
me to think or get my attention, and some I like if they have to do
with a topic I have interest in. So when he says that authors need
adjust the way they write, I disagree. Poetry is part of the history of
every ethnicity and country and it is important to keep doing what we
have been for years. Write about how you feel, poetry is about
releasing feelings and expressing opinion on a topic, it is not meant
to suit to every type of reader.

On April 26, 2011 at 1:03pm Nick Bixler wrote:
I agree with the author's belief that the next great
poets are not coming from within academia. It seems that
the author does not recognize any great poetry being
created today. I disagree and I believe there are
countless poets who continuously produce great works.
The poetry community is alive and well, but it has
changed faces. The best, most relevant poems can be
found in the music industry. Classic songs like Coolio's
Gangsta's Paradise or Dr. Dre's Nuthin but a G Thang
show that musicians can write great poetry and turn it
into a song. Music is much more commercial than written
poetry, so these artists are producing poetry for the
masses. Some other great poets in the music industry are
Nas, Kanye West, Mumford and Sons, Lupe Fiasco, Lady
Antebellum, A Day to Remember, and Eminem. These artists
continuously put out raw, emotional, and creative
poetry. Beauty in art can come from anywhere. The
written poetry industry may be stagnant, but the poets
in the music industry are thriving.

I realize that most of my examples are hip-hop and rap
artists. I am most familiar with these genres, but there
are great poets in every genre of music.

On April 26, 2011 at 1:58pm Logan G wrote:
Barr is right when he states that poetry today is in no way the same or as successful as it was in the past. Modern poets don't allow their lives to influence their poetry as much as poets and even writers like Hemingway did. This is a mistake that often renders their work irrelevant to the masses today that might seek to pick up a work of poetry and read it.
I myself find poetry to be a complete bore. As interesting as some poems might be, I find that I often cannot relate to the words or message being sent by the author. I do not enjoy reading poetry largely because of this. Modern poetry is all the worse as much of it is just a cheap attempt at writing like a poet before them. The National Opinion Research Center's sampling must have been biased because I am sure a majority of my generation today would agree that a poem is not even worth reading when a good book is available.

On June 21, 2011 at 4:26pm A. P. HOBAN wrote:
poetry

a loaded word. offputting mainly. say it. stand back. then listen to what you hear in your heart. beat beat beat.

On November 1, 2011 at 8:38pm Lori wrote:
If one wants his poetry to reach the masses, He must speak to, not at the masses. Some poets today seem to believe they may only write to a selective few intellectuals. It seems that intellectuals and poets sit around patting themselves on the back for making cryptic statements and they call it genius and creative.
Many poets of the past wrote on current topics and often poems were published in periodicals, like newspapers and weekly publications. It was delivered to the public. So individuals could at least discuss these peices in various venues and still feel a part of something. Even song lyrics of the 60s and 70s were public. Now poets seem to hide behind the letters at the end of their names. Does this make them a better poet than anyone else who feels they have a voice? I say there are poets everywhere who have voices but no one is listening becuase they think that what they have to say is much more important.

On November 15, 2011 at 12:08pm Lauren (Ren) wrote:
I think we are seeing fewer poems and poets make it to the
mainstream market because society has become lazy. Poetry
is not a typical easy, leisurely read. It has fewer words
so the individual can analyze it and take what they want
out of it.

On November 15, 2011 at 4:29pm Lauren wrote:
I agree with Mr. Barr on many of his accounts. Something that resonated with me was when he talked about that fact that we shouldn't be forced to read poetry. Espically with things like peotry that are hard to get through i think that i personally would be more inclined to read it if i wasn't forced to and i think that i would indeed enjoy it more. Also i agree with Rens comment that society as a whole has become lazy, and that is why we are seeing fewer poets and poetry make it to the mainstream market.

On November 15, 2011 at 5:05pm Krista S wrote:
Contemporary poets face the same issues movie-makers do. How does an
art form advertise itself to the ever-changing consumer? As Barr says,
poetry has become stagnant.
Poets of centuries before have tackled the big issues of life time and time
again. Death, love, hatred, violence, deception, etc, have all been
examined. Each has taken on a tone of the specific era.
Poets nowadays need to combine several of these elements and intertwine
them with the ideas and events of the new age. If the poetry speaks to the
human condition now, the audience will expand on its own accord.
It's much easier said than done, though.

On November 16, 2011 at 9:54am Janet wrote:
Since when does poetry have to change? Perhaps it has really stayed the same throughout centuries and we simply feel it has to be coded and classified to fill our own time. Poetry reflects the successes and challenges of the time, and if the time is stagnant then so shall be its poetry. When scholars look back they will see the truth. However admirable it is to try to break free it is not genuine to force it out of a sense of hastiness.

On November 16, 2011 at 11:38am Anu wrote:
Poetry should come from the heart and commercializing it is like
commercializing faith. I was reminded of the ironic trend now where
people are paid to follow a certain religion. Just as faith comes from
the soul, poetry should reflect one's soul and inspire others
effortlessly. Poetry should be effortless.

On November 16, 2011 at 11:41am Erin wrote:
I definitely agree with Lauren and Mr. Barr on the statement that we
should not be forced to read poetry. I think that typically, no one really
enjoys anything that they are FORCED to do. Be it read poetry or
anything else. However because our society has become so lazy I
think it is a very good thing for people to read poetry. It provokes
thoughts and discussions and requires you to think deeply and outside
of the box. As for poetry becoming stagnant, this might be true.
However I do think that many great poems will always be wonderful
and applicable to our lives. I think less poetry has made it mainstream,
is because on the surface it doesn't look very exciting to our lazy
society. It seems like there's not much too it when we are used to
crazy movies and things that require little thinking on our own part.
When in reality, poetry often holds the most depth.

On November 16, 2011 at 1:04pm Mitchell wrote:
I agree with many of the points that Mr. Barr made. I just think that the pace society does everything is too fast. Many people don't have time to sit down and read something that will take some thought to get across the main idea of the poem. It doesn't help that much of the youth today has been basically brainwashed to think that entertainment comes from just movies, video games, and other things that they see. If they took the time to sit down and read, they could find it interesting.

On November 16, 2011 at 3:37pm Kelsey T wrote:
I believe that Barr does make some good points, but in the grand scheme of things the same people who are interested in the new poetry are the same people who liked the old poetry so why does it need to change? Someone who does not appreciate poetry or want to understand it, will most likey not try to understand something new either. Poetry is supposed to be about the emotion it produces in people and to make them think. It should not be dumbed down for more people to relate too, or so people who are less academic will enjoy it.

On November 16, 2011 at 3:44pm Lizzy wrote:
I agree with Barr that poetry need to be revitalized. Speaking from a college student's point of view, poetry can often come with the social stigma of being uppity and elitist, when it is really intended for the masses. I think we need to find a middle ground between where poetry currently stands and the total commercialization of it. For example, not many people currently know offhand who the current U.S. Poet Laureate is and probably last read poetry on the inside of a Hallmark card, however, I don't think we should completely overhaul poetry. Perhaps just tweeking some aspects of it that would make it more accessible to a large audience.

On November 16, 2011 at 8:57pm Margaret wrote:
Poetry can still be written well and meaningful but at the same time
be able to reach a greater audience. I feel like some people would
read poetry if it was printed in the newspaper, though they may not
get much from it unless they really think about it a bit. At least more
people would be exposed to this type of art, and they could choose
themselves if they want to continue reading or even search for more
poetry that they might enjoy. And it would be refreshing to read
something meaningful. Poetry shouldn't be forced upon the masses,
but just be accessible.

On November 16, 2011 at 10:23pm Adam K. wrote:
I like Barr’s point of view. Poetry needs some changes. It’s up to the
poets to make those changes happen and get their work to their
target audience. Modernism and romanticism have long been
overused and people have gotten bored with their writing styles.
Neither brings up today’s issues or beliefs that people can relate to.
Poets today seem to be stuck in a bubble of what they think poetry
should be. I think many poets read the great poets’ works like Eliot,
Frost, and Wordsworth and think that is how poetry is supposed to be
written. Then they use the same style for their own poem and it is
isn’t interesting to the public because it is familiar. Barr was right
when he said MFA programs are not helping because they are also
training poets how to think, write, and analyze poetry, but forget the
real meaning of poetry in the first place. Poetry is meant to get the
reader thinking and make a connection to his/her life. That is hard to
do that if the only people that understand the poems are MFA
graduates. I also agree with Barr in that if poetry has even the
smallest chance of being revitalized to be a part of our everyday lives
it needs to be more commercialized. Poets need to change up their
routines and get inspired to write poetry that connects with the
common person and not just with the intellects. They should
reference thoughts and lines from popular movies, TV shows, and
classic works to reach a greater intended audience. Then they should
showcase their work in every magazine, journal, and newspaper that
applies to their intended audience.

On November 17, 2011 at 9:02pm Alex R. wrote:
I agree with Barr when he says that people need to go out and
experience things and that will help them become better poets. The
classroom can only teach you so much but experiencing the world can
give you insight to a lot more.

On December 15, 2011 at 1:11pm Surazeus Simon Seamount wrote:
Perhaps if we tell stories in poetry again, we may gain a wider audience. I find it interesting that the greatest poets in history -- Homer, Ovid, Virgil, Lucretius, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton -- wrote stories in verse. I find modern academic poetry, and even poetry of the "best" poets of the past 50 years, difficult and even irrelevant, because they write lyrics with obscure, disconnected images and vague feelings. Lyrics of songs that everyone loves to hear and sing seem to use simple, clear language to express basic feelings and attitudes. Stories that gain the widest reader audience are often action-filled adventures of romance, drama, horror, or crime-solving. Passionate feelings in lyrics may become more relevant and readable to a wider audience if the poet creates a narrative context of social interaction to frame the emotional lyrics. These were my thoughts 25 years ago when I started writing, so I have taught myself to write narrative poetry. I call how I write Cinemism, because I apply cinematic techniques to telling the story in verse. I am writing an epic in blank verse about the great scientists of history, to explore how humans developed civilization and technology through exploration of nature in the scientific method. While I am using the classic form of blank verse, I am writing about scientists as my heroes, and exploring development of human knowledge as the pilgrimage of the intellect. Whether or not Cinemism is any solution or revolutionary new method needed to revitalize poetry, I don't know, but that is the solution I developed for my own art.

On March 26, 2012 at 3:48pm Gregg Banter wrote:
"The dog walked down the street"; let us recognize the craftsmanship ,the clarity, the beauty of the naturalness ,of such a direct and communicative line. No clutter, no debris.The future will depend on the POETRY Foundation to bring to the surface the quality and the new. Thank You POETRY mag. for keeping that edge that brought about the greats!!!!!!!!!Gregg Banter

On April 16, 2012 at 8:46pm Jeremy Danover wrote:
I agree with the author here in the sense that poetry is at a dull time right now and mainly because poets arent appealing to their audiences as much as they used to. I also agree and think that there is still a future for poetry, it just needs to be read by more general audiences and not because they have to read it, but because they want to read it to see what real issues poems talk about. I think that poetry is going to have a "golden age" in the near future because more poets are going to go out and experience things, and then write about those experiences and those modern day experiences will attract more readers.

On April 16, 2012 at 8:48pm Zach Leidigh wrote:
I think Barr had a very interesting take on Poetry and how it is viewed today. I especially agree that poetry needs something new. I think that if people started to try some modern poetry that talks about things people experience in the 2010's it could become a part of pop culture.

On April 17, 2012 at 1:13am Landon Salsberry wrote:
I don't think a certain style for our time needs to be popularized. I
think that poets should be free to write what ever they feel needs to be
written. It would be interesting to see a new style come about but i
don't think it needs to happen right now. I'm sure it will come
sometime, it doesn't need to be pressed. You do make good points
about why it is stagnant though. People need interesting experiences so
they have something new to write about.

On April 17, 2012 at 12:07pm Michelle P. wrote:
I agree with the first section of this article. I think
that we do need a new type of poetry. I am not a huge fan
of poems, but when I read them I don't want to read about
sad things. I'd rather read about nature or something that
I can get a happy or peaceful visual from. But the article
also said that all poetry sounds the same now. There are
not many individualistic qualities about poetry now. So I
think a new style of poetry would be awesome.

On April 17, 2012 at 1:51pm Ken Hutchens wrote:
Barr's points are correct. Today's poets need to be able to capture the essence of the time period and regurgitate it back to a receptive audience. This does create an immense challenge for a poet, however, as society has taken on a quicker, more efficient, more results type of attitude and rarely allows one the time to savor any type of art, including poetry. With the evolution of today's GO attitude, I fear poetry is a dead art. I do not foresee its mainstream return. It will continue to persevere only in the dreams of those hard-core souls who refuse to give up hope until eventually, they, also, will tire and die.

On April 17, 2012 at 3:32pm Mikhayla wrote:
I agree with poetry being at a "dull" moment in time. It feels old-fashioned to me, even though there is modern stuff but it's not very open to the general public because it isn't very mainstream. Maybe, I'm ignorant but I feel it's a hipster New-York thing and also very sophistacated to read and create. I think in todays modern time's music is what speaks to everyone and is very mainstream form of art now of expression. Easier to understand from my point of view and easier to get a mass together, kinda like online-networking.

On April 17, 2012 at 5:47pm Felipe Carrasco wrote:
I think Barr makes a compelling argument in claiming that for poetry to come to enjoy its 'golden age', it's poets must start writing to a larger audience; that poetry's plight shouldn't be put on the public. The problem to my mind, though, is that with the New Media -- T.V., internet, video games -- even if poets were to write towards aspects of human life that would tap a massive audience, the audience just isn't there. At least the younger generations of today, who would be the primary population to enjoy a golden age of poetry (if it were to happen), is too busy with cellphones, reality tv shows, video games, movies, entertainment, and consumerism, to take the time to step out of their personal lives to enjoy a bit of poetry. This is not to blame the public -- it is a change in lifestyle that has occurred, be it positive or negative. Add to that the effects of capitalism leading to widespread obsession over material gain, and we can see even further why poetry remains floating around in its own "workshop" niche. Thus, though a pessimistic view, to me, it seems that -- and not to take anything from its worth -- but poetry, along with literature, has unfortunately been lost to the powers and wonders of the new media and technology, as well as the self-consuming effects of a capitalist state. That doesn't mean it shouldn't remain to be felt, created, and shared with those looking to listen.

On April 17, 2012 at 7:11pm Bailey Kraft wrote:
"You cannot know an era - say, Kafka's Europe - until half a century later, when it no longer exists"

I believe that this is one of the most important lines through out the whole essay. I believe it to be very true. Although poetry may seem like its not a popular thing right now, I would have to disagree. People listen to music all the time these day, young and old, this is a form of poetry. The essay talks shortly about lyric poems and I think that is the phase that this century is going through, and people won't appreciate it until it's all gone.

"To change your language, as Derek Walcott says, you must change your life."

This is another line that caught my eye and I strongly disagree with this! Aren't we taught at a young age to use our imagination? Why should we change who we are and what we do in order to write a good poem. I do not think that is a good argument!

Over all, I thought this was a good essay, it had a lot of good arguments and a few that got me thinking. I believe poetry is a form of expression that will never die.

On April 17, 2012 at 7:23pm Megan Tentinger wrote:
This article in my mind shows exactly what everyone thinks about poetry
today. Poetry seems to have been lost in the mix of everything. Today
people get bored with it and I think there should be a new approach to
it. Poetry from earlier times was fine for that period and it was all
interesting, but today people need to be more inventive. Music and other
forms of art is what has been a success and I feel like unless somebody
does something immensely different, poetry will stay dead.

On April 17, 2012 at 7:49pm Lindsey Joens wrote:
I agree with the writer of this article, I think that poetry is very old and needs to be done in a different way than it has been ever since it came around. This may be the only way for it to become more than it is, because as the writer said people who write poetry are not able to make a living just writing poetry. If the style of poetry is changed I think that more people will buy poetry like they do books.

On April 17, 2012 at 7:52pm Sarah P.G. wrote:
I agree with the point that "poets should live broadly,
then write boldly." Poets should write what they know
about and feelings they have expressed themselves. This
way they can truly connect with their audience and leave
a lasting impression. They shouldn't force a certain
topic or emotion they same way I don't think we should
force a new style in poetry. I think it would be great
if a new style came along to capture the attention of
readers but it needs to progress on it's own rather than
be forced upon poets.

On April 17, 2012 at 9:29pm Brittan O. wrote:
He does make some good points. There does not seem to be many poets out there, and if there are poetry is pretty well hidden from the mainstream. I can not personaly think of any current day poetry that has caught my eye. This does not mean poetry is dead to society though. Things tend to come in and out of the mainstream trends. I feel like poetry will one day again be an improtant form of writing. So many things can be turned into a poem, and there are plenty of topics out there today that could be used as the ideas to write poetry.

On April 17, 2012 at 10:52pm Eric Hof wrote:
I can see where the author is coming from n the fact that poetry
becomes outdated so easily. Modern poetry is suppose to be about
modern topics so that where the change comes from. But with the
world changing so fast there's not a lot of time for poetry to have a
lasting affect and soon it will have to just change again so I think
poetry need to come up with a more common form to be able to stay
modern in the fast moving world we live in today. We need to also
right poems that have ,earning and beable to last and not become
forgotten n today's world.

On April 17, 2012 at 11:05pm Bridget Haerr wrote:
I agree with Barr's point of poetry being outdated. There have been
very few modern poems I have gone over in english classes since not
many modern poems have brought something new to the table. Poetry
has come to a point where it needs to evolve into something new and
exciting. At the same time, a classic love poem will always be
something that is appreciated. But, as Barr mentioned, poems are
known for their sadness and melancholy. Poets should try to turn that
around and make poetry something that is perhaps more happy and
exciting.

On April 17, 2012 at 11:07pm Eric Hof wrote:
I agree with the author in the fact that poetry now a
days needs to keep up with the times and the fast paced
world. but by the time poetry gets to where it needs to
be the world is already past it and the poetry will not
be able to popularize and needing for another change so
what we need is a new type of poetry. that can stay with
mainstream america and stay with issues that are up to
date and interest modern america. if poetry makes this
change it would change the look of poetry and bring it
back in to light of american society.

On April 17, 2012 at 11:20pm Andrew Schnoebelen wrote:
If poets wrote about topics and events that were relevant to today's
society, then more people would be inclined to read poetry. Popular
culture and the media drives people's interests, it's called popular
culture for a reason. I realize poets are trying to maintain a classical
style, to one of the most ancient forms of art (poetry), but if they
wonder why no one wants to read their poems, it's because they aren't
entertaining to most people, when compared to other modern forms
of entertainment. Poetry is definitely in a slump right now, but there is
always hope for its return, if interest is gained by poets, by catering to
the needs of their potential readers.

On April 18, 2012 at 12:06am Samuel Rowe wrote:
I agree with the mention about how a century ago we had the novel and
today we have the movie. They came to us naturally and as a society we
gravitated towards them. There needs to be a new element to poetry so
that it can get the attention it deserves again. People like to learn about
themselves so poetry should help them with that.

On April 18, 2012 at 8:00am Romaldo Jacobo wrote:
If poetry holds its true meaning and its essence, along
with other forms of literature, it will naturally evolve
on its own. Poetry will never have a wide mainstream
appeal in America. As an art form, poetry, appeals to a
smaller circle. Unlike movies or novels, poetry does not
stimulate all of ones sensory inputs making it harder to
interpret its content. For example, the reason why
movies are so widely popular is because it leaves its
audience with a clear image illustrated and there is
little to none interpretation required (it does all the
thinking for you). Poetry on the other hand requires its
audience to critically digest its content. It is this
breaking down of and interpretation that makes it easier
to derive the meaning of a specific movie than it is for
a poem.

On April 18, 2012 at 11:03am Erin Naffziger wrote:
I agree with the author about how poetry has evolved. If
you follow with poets through time and experience the
styles continue to change, and I think the author makes a
strong point of showing us how that works.

On April 18, 2012 at 11:59am Derek Leeney wrote:
Barr makes an interesting point on why contemporary society is not
producing rich poetry. I particularly agree with his argument that
although MFA poetry programs develop excellent writers, they do not
necessarily develop groundbreaking poets. In the past, famous poets
were able to write poetry because they lived uniquely and wrote boldly.
What made their poetry so powerful was that it was distinct and
different from other types of literature. Today, I believe there is a sense
of conformity amongst poets because most all aspiring poets attend
MFA programs. This sense of conformity is contributing to the lack of
rich contemporary poetry. Perhaps if poets did not attend these
programs, and wrote about their experiences as they did in the past,
modern poetry would become relative again.

On April 18, 2012 at 12:00pm Alec Darrow wrote:
Well wrote with good arguments.

On April 18, 2012 at 1:36pm will cubbage wrote:
A poetry revival would only come about if it were popularized in the younger generation and that would only happen if there was a destruction of media and social media because information is transferred so fast and at face value that no one seems to care enough or have enough time to try and find deeper meanings in poetry.

On April 18, 2012 at 1:41pm Derek wrote:
Barr makes an interesting point on why contemporary society is not
producing rich poetry. I particularly agree with his argument that
although MFA poetry programs develop excellent writers, they do not
necessarily develop groundbreaking poets. In the past, famous poets
were able to write poetry based on their different experiences. What
made their poetry unique was their ability to think differently about life
and write boldly about their thoughts. However, aspiring poets today
attend MFA program, which conform them to all think in a similar way.
Although these programs do help them become better writers, they are
halting the new generation of poets. Perhaps if aspiring poets went out
and experienced things, instead of learning them in the classroom, their
poetry would be as powerful as the former generations of poets.

On April 18, 2012 at 3:24pm Drew M. wrote:
I feel that the author makes some good points about the current day poetry scene. There are very few current day poets, and the art form seems to have died in the last century. Popular culture seems to drown any true forms of literature anymore. Poems aren't the only aspect of literature that have taken a hit in recent years; though, books and reading in general have died off as well, aside from class necessary reading. Poetry's only real hope in today's culture seems to be musicians; however, most people don't even listen to the lyrics anymore. Society is truly the limiting factor for the return and blossom of poetry as a mainstream mean of entertainment.

On April 19, 2012 at 1:07pm Alec Darrow wrote:
I believe that the article overall despite what messages might have been
interpreted was written well because after reading it really makes you
think, which is progress on the topic. I think that for poetry to make a
rise in our country during this time it would have to be somewhat
related to our mainstream media today, which I think won't happen.
Because most of our popular entertainment today is not as
sophisticated as past poetry, and I believe that it will be a hard transfer
to go from deep meaningful poetry, to todays shallower forms of
popular entertainment.

On April 19, 2012 at 2:14pm Kevin Brummond wrote:
Poetry can be revived; it just has to find its target audience. The youth seems to be the hope for the survival of petry in this new generation. If poetry can find its way into mainstream society, it can be revived. But the market fir poetry is not as large as the markets for music or movies. Poetry is read by many, but truly appreciated by few.

On April 19, 2012 at 3:40pm Jordan Kintner wrote:
Poetry is a great way to express yourself in a very unique way. Poetry has
no limitations nor is it viewed in black and white standards. It is the free
expression of an open mind. With poetry there is rarely judgement.
Everyone is very supportive.

On April 19, 2012 at 9:44pm Evan Palmer wrote:
I agree with the idea of the article that poetry is going
away. People have just lost interest in poetry because
they just don't find it interesting anymore. Poetry has
stayed the same but the times have changed and have out
grown poetry. If poetry doesn't change or new generations
don't take interest in it it will disappear.

On April 19, 2012 at 9:54pm Evan Palmer wrote:
I agree with the idea of the article that poetry is going
away. People have just lost interest in poetry because
they just don't find it interesting anymore. Poetry has
stayed the same but the times have changed and have out
grown poetry. If poetry doesn't change or new generations
don't take interest in it it will disappear.

On April 20, 2012 at 1:44am Andrew Schnier wrote:
Some peopel are looking at his article and thinking that he is trying to
pull poetry away from its roots, when in fact he is doing the exact
opposite. He is trying to show that poetry needs to go back to true
expression. He describes how true poetry is created not with rules and
format, but with experiences and passion. Barr encourages people to
look at some of the greatest writers from history and see that they were
so great because they only wrote what they knew. For example, Ernest
Hemingway wrote of his safaris and travels. There will always be people
who believe that true poetry must follow the all too generic guidelines
of the millions of poems ever created, but there will be the few who are
touched by Barr’s ideas and realize that poetry can be expressed in
other ways, such as music and so on.

On April 20, 2012 at 2:11am Nolan M. wrote:
I feel that the revival of poetry is almost nearly impossible in the modern world today, just for the fact that it has to compete with social media, and other forms of entertainment such as movies, music, and sports. Also to add to that is that the revival of poetry would most likely have come in the form of the younger generation being involved in it and it does not appear that that is imminent.

On April 20, 2012 at 1:09pm Claire M wrote:
I agree with the author that poetry is a lost art. Our
world has changed drastically over the years and the
forms of poetry need to change with it. Although, I don't
think all poetry is lost, it is just seen in different
aspects, through song lyrics and even how people are
expressing themselves through social media. I think when
the time is right, new expressions of poetry will
eventually become popular again.

On April 20, 2012 at 1:17pm Claire M wrote:
I agree with the author that poetry is a lost art. Our
world has changed drastically over the years, and the
expressions of poetry have to change with it for people
to be able to relate and find an interest in it.
Although, I don't think all poetry is lost, it is just
seen in different forms, such as song lyrics and the way
people express themselves through social media. At some
point, I think poetry will become popular again, but it
will take the right person to come up with new forms of
poetry that appeal to today's generations.

On April 22, 2012 at 5:00pm Katelyn Bunn wrote:
I think the revival of poetry in today's world is very possible. I think
there are so many new forms of media today that poetry should be
thriving more than ever. Poetry can be written the way it originally was
or it can even be something like a tweet with a deep meaning. I think
poetry is a way of people expressing themselves and poetry will revive
itself because people will always be expressing themselves even if it is a
new different way.

On April 23, 2012 at 1:07pm J. Olais wrote:
This article was very interesting, and very thought provoking. Although I may not know much of the MFA program, it seemed as if this program is very beneficial to future poets, but it has a slight flaw. It doesn't give the people a look into the future. But knowing that there will be a new poetry writing style gives people hope.

As a privous respondant said "Until writers can start writing energetic experiences instead of sympathy, there will not be any new type of poetry writing." I completely believe this quote and in what you, Mr. Barr, were saying. The future poets must keep the past in their minds as inspiration, but not use it as a form of an example to write every poem.

This article was very inspirational and I do hope people who are serious about their writing read this article and learn something from it

On April 23, 2012 at 5:25pm Lia Grogan wrote:
During my years of highschool and college poetry was only enforced through reading or writing classes. I do agree that poetry needs to be reformed, I used to enjoy reading poetry and it should be seen as more of a leisurely activity instead of forced reading assignments. I believe that most music was developed from poetry, and it is sad to see the magazines that the audiences are reading instead of peices of art. I liked how passionate John Barr is about enforcing new poetry, and I hope other authors also believe in this. I think exploring like Hemingway to begin writings would be a great start.

On April 23, 2012 at 7:15pm Shane Marrin wrote:
This article is very interesting and I agree that poetry has lost the popularity it once had. However, it is very possible for poetry to be revived to where it once was. I feel that if poetry writers began writing through their experiences in life rather than the contemporary methods they have been taught in school, then it will allow for the writer to find an audience. Once a writer finds an audience that they connect with, it is fully possible to begin writing poetry about different experiences targeted for more people. This is a start, and if it can be achieved then poetry can definitely be revived.

On April 24, 2012 at 12:32am Megan wrote:
I too agree that poetry seems to have become lost in the world of
academia, unless a class is taken specifically on it. In a literature class
I'm taking, we had a unit on poetry, but did not discuss in depth about
different styles used when writing poetry, nor did we write a poem of
our own. I think in order to gain a better understanding of the art of
poetry, it needs to be discussed more in classes in order to light the
spark that once existed among fans of poetry. If poetry is taught more
in classes to students, they may have a chance of changing their
opinions about it being "boring" and may even become one of the next
great poets in the future talked about in this article by Mr. Barr.

On April 24, 2012 at 1:26am Patrick Wilson wrote:
I feel that poetry is a dying form of art. I dont think it can be revived due to the other, more popular forms of communication. Television, radio and internet have now taken over and are the so called popular form of communications. Poetry is no longer an effective way of communication due to changes in technology.

On April 24, 2012 at 1:26am Patrick Wilson wrote:
I feel that poetry is a dying form of art. I dont think it can be revived due to the other, more popular forms of communication. Television, radio and internet have now taken over and are the so called popular form of communications. Poetry is no longer an effective way of communication due to changes in technology.

On April 24, 2012 at 10:46am Maddy wrote:
I feel that poetry has become less and less popular over the past few
years...coincidentally during the technology explosion. Fewer classes
are giving poetry assignments unless the class is devoted solely to
poetry and nothing else. I think that it would be beneficial for other
english classes and even art classes to teach students more about the
importance of poetry and its significance in our history. Due to the
developments of sparknotes.com and other summary sites, more and
more students are not reading the full text of books and poems. Thus,
they are not able to fully grasp the meaning of these pieces.

On April 24, 2012 at 11:49am Genna Brierton wrote:
Poetry has most definitely lost the popularity in society that it used to
have. I feel that our generation has been forced to read poetry
through school and does not truly understand its meaning as an art
form. I know that I personally don't enjoy reading poetry because I
prefer more simplistic reading that does not take as much analysis to
understand. We live in a world of convenience today and poetry is not
seen as a leisurely and enjoyable activity as it once was. I think that
poetry could be reformed but would need to be done so in a way that
can relate to the current generation.

On April 24, 2012 at 11:51am Kathleen O. wrote:
I definitely agree that poetry is a dying form of writing as well as art. However, I also believe that it can, to some extent, be revived. If poets wrote about topics that connect to and interest audiences now in days, I can certainly see it gaining some popularity with certain audiences. With that said, I also do not believe that it can gain the popularity it once had. In each decade there are different trends for all different cultures. Poetry was a popular way of communicating and telling a story many, many years ago. Now in days we tell stories and feelings through movies, television shows, and books. ALthough I strongly believe that a deep appreciation of poetry is very necessary for us to grow even more, I do not think that it will ever be completely revived and regain the popularity it once had.

On April 24, 2012 at 12:25pm Sean O'Brien wrote:
Poetry is becoming a lost art. With all the advancements
in technology, i believe every person would rather search
the web for a musical piece with both poetry and sound
rather then just a plain and simple poem. Also, i believe
new poetry today is displayed through music and is getting
the same message across that any other modern poem would.
Our short attention spans have lost interest in poems and
are looking out for a new way for entertainment.

On April 24, 2012 at 1:44pm Lindsay P. wrote:
Poetry is here...and it is popular and commercialized already. It is just in other forms. Like technology, communication, fashion, and everything else in life..it has evolved. Some people still don't like the touch screen phone, some people stick to e-mail over texting, some people keep their clothes from ten years ago versus buying the newest trends: some people will still read and consume the traditional poetry but others will move on to the newest forms of poetry like music lyrics. There is no reason to have a 200 million dollar campaign to try to bring something back that has had its time in popular culture. It is taught in school to show appreciation for that form of talent, but it can not be forced into popular culture again.

On April 24, 2012 at 3:47pm Keith Wiencek wrote:
I like most of the points that John Barr makes in the
article. I believe that poetry is dying and unappealing
to the masses. All talent is kept in a small pool and not
released to the public. For poetry to survive in the
current entertainment industry it must be commercialized.
Majors in MFA need to get away from teaching and use what
they learned to increase the popularity of poetry in the
world.

On January 6, 2013 at 2:07pm MJ Kestrel wrote:
Great and inspirational article! In my opinion:
Contemporary poetry is indeed closed like a last century gentlemen's club. Many poems are very static, picturesque, working around a few metaphores that hard to understand, decode for someone who has never been taught on one of the mentioned courses and workshops or has a less lyrical mindset.
A poem is a hit or a miss depending on what are the individual reader's lyrical preferences. A purple mug on a patchwork tablecloth has a special meaning for the poet (and to the editor if the poem was published) but what are the chances that it will mean anything to the wider public? How a less lyrical person, like myslef will be interested in the poet's purple mug especially when nothing moves in the verse, even the dynamism of the free verse can't help any longer?
Technology mentioned above by others, we do have photography for depicting a purple mug on grandma's old tablecloth. A lyrical soul will understand the photo too not just a verse.
Free verse shaked up poetry but it's calm and rigid again. So I agree, poetry needs a good shaking again.

On February 1, 2013 at 3:46am Goddo Faggotte wrote:
Poetry must strive to be an oasis in the Desert of Life, at which our thirst for ideas, both of the imagination and the intellect, are quenched. Poetry itself, not the poet, is the thirst-quenching water. The words, the combinations – both old and new, the tones and rhythms, the figures of speech and images, together make up the waters of the oasis. Poets are the custodians and hosts of the oasis, their work being to ensure that the deep aquifers, feeding the still, cool pool, are always flowing, clear and strong. The poet tends to the shade-giving date palms, harvesting and pruning according to the season. As host and protector, the poet keeps unwanted intruders away from the life-giving waters – snakes, scorpions, vultures, water-thieves, any and all who would harm the thirsty, pollute the oasis, or who have malicious intent. To those crossing the desert, hot and thirsty, the poet offers refuge, respite and hospitality, inviting the weary traveller to stop and rest awhile, and to quench his thirst. These travellers are our readers, and in an instant, as the waters of the poetic oasis revive and refresh, not only quenching the thirst but also invigorating body, mind and spirit, they become greater than they were !

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This prose originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2006
 John  Barr

Biography

John Barr served as the first president of the Poetry Foundation from 2004 to 2013, where he worked with the board to develop the Foundation's strategic plan and to build a permanent home for Poetry magazine, the first in its 100-year history. He has taught in the graduate writing program of Sarah Lawrence College and has served on the boards of the Poetry Society of America, Yaddo, and Bennington College.

Barr grew up in Lisle, . . .

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