Get Your Freak On
Impose Magazine's blog, Codex, posted a short piece on the relationship between poetry and "freaks." According to them, the public interest in Jared Lee Loughner's poems gives evidence that poetry, as a genre, is only for the morbid, or the morbidly curious:
Is poetry now looked at as part of the freakazoid fringe? Does anyone know a Poet Laureate? (Try Robert Pinsky, who's quoted in the above Bookslut link...unrelated to Loughner). Or last year's bestselling poetry book? Poetry seems so far from the mainstream now, but the only poets who get attention is if there is good music behind it. If Jared Lee Loughner had any more poems out of his community college class, they would rocket to the top of the poetry bestsellers.
Of course, they do have (sort of) a point: poems are only in the national spotlight when they can be pathologized. However, this argument serves only to reproduce a simplistic conception of culture which posits a sane mainstream, and an "out-there" fringe (much like Jon Stewart's unfortunately-named March for Sanity last year). The only generative conclusion to draw from this line of thinking is that the "mainstream" itself is insane, because it imagines that it exists.