Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Michael Salcman
Dear Editor,
What is happening to Poetry? In place of poems, first cartoons and puzzles, then word art, and now an entire section of the magazine devoted to Futurism, a largely Italian phenomenon, one that clearly influenced endeavors in such parallel fields as film, architecture, and fashion, without leaving much of a ripple in twentieth-century painting and sculpture. The wan set of parodies published in the February issue seems closer in spirit to Dada than to Futurism; the only possible excuse for this exercise is that Futurism, unlike any of the major international art movements save Surrealism, had a written manifesto, one that is only lightly mocked by your contributors. No mention is made by them of the bloody-minded violence expressed in the original manifesto or of its later association with Italian fascism and Mussolini. The Futurists’ aestheticization of violence and glorification of modern warfare as the ultimate artistic act, as well as their extreme nationalism, led them to prominently embrace the regime in the twenties and thirties. Marinetti made repeated attempts to have Il Duce declare Futurism the official art of the Italian state; fortunately, Mussolini had no interest in visual art, and Marinetti’s requests were repeatedly denied. The political ineptness of the Futurists and their leader is almost the only funny thing about them. Like most pamphleteers, the Futurists had no sense of humor; with few exceptions, your writers more than match them. If you wish to put a smile on the face of your ideal reader, less Dada, please, and more poems.

Baltimore, Maryland

Originally Published: April 1, 2009

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This prose originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2009

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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