20 Poetic Conclusions after Chasing Poetry

I admit, I have been chasing poetry, and have found that for the most part, no one is winning the poetry race…!

In the last week or so, I have visited somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 to 300 poetry and literary sites, and I have come away from that experience with a few less than humble opinions.

  1. Chasing poetry is a complete waste of time.
  2. Poetry, what it is, and how it should be written, is subjective.
  3. Readers find it easier to comment on critiques of poems, rather than the poems themselves.
  4. Poets are the bastard children of the literary world.
  5. There is far more poor poetry than rich poetry.
  6. Poets seem to only help poets who write like they do.
  7. There is no true academy of poets.
  8. There are more obstacles to having a poem published than a U.S. Marine has to traverse in order to prepare for war.
  9. Poets lie, through their comments to other poets when it serves their ulterior purposes.
  10. The biggest on-line poetry sites, do not allow interaction between readers and writers.
  11. Moronic, easy to cipher poetry, has a better chance at an audience than a poem written with erudition.
  12. Poets who find it especially hard to find publishers start blogs, or their own on-line magazines.
  13. The best indication of poetry’s lack of merit by our society, is the paucity of advertisers willing to pay to advertise in a poetry journal.
  14. You really can’t make a living as a poet, but you can generate an income as a teacher teaching others how to become teachers who will live lives of obscurity, teach still others to write or teach, or who will give up on the whole endeavor, and become insurance sales people.
  15. Women seem to be more egalitarian when it comes to opening themselves up to poetic diversity.
  16. Poetry prizes are generally not worth the travel expense it takes to receive one in person.
  17. Poetry as a resonate part of an oral culture is almost dead.
  18. Poets are partially to blame, as co-conspirators for the demise of poetry.
  19. Blogrolls are useless for generating any true traffic to your site, but they do seem to please other poets who need the sense of validation that it brings.
  20. If poets have any hope of reviving poetry to its once exalted cultural status, they will clearly need to participate and connect with their intended audiences in ways that are much different than they currently are attempting.

Hey, call me a cry baby, or call me an elitist – whatever…


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11 responses to “20 Poetic Conclusions after Chasing Poetry

  1. Should Poetry be any different than any other business? If one makes the decision to attempt to prosper as a poet, there’s a game to be played. Can a good poem prosper and rise to the heavens on its own, without that bullshit game? Is No. 20 on your list the only true hope at taking the industry out of Poetry? Do you have to succeed and gain entry into that industry in order to change it? Should art even be an industry?

    It seems like once a person “makes it” – whatever that means, any little scribble or juxtaposition of words they vomit onto the page gets published. They get paid to judge contests and get flown across the country to give readings. They aren’t challenged, because their poetry is just deemed good. Nobody challenges them. Look through the back pages of Poets & Writers Magazine. The same four people are at every conference and judging every contest.

    I’m a hypocrite, though. I’d do backflips if I were flown across the country to give a reading and would do a somersault if I were comped a meal to be a judge. I’d want every one of those four writers to give me a blurb on the back of my book. That’s the ego talking. I have one of those. Maybe judging and appearing at conferences *is* a writer’s life. But living in a cabin in the woods also sounds good. As long as the cabin is wired.

    I walk the line between realist and idealistic. Often I fall and straddle the tightrope painfully, talking an octave higher for the rest of the day.

  2. Poeticgrin – Your response makes me laugh, especially the last bit of it. Thanks.

    It’s going to be hard for me to write this even somewhat objectively…

    The list is mostly observational. I found that writing it helped me understand that the limited response to my poetry, or the lack of a greater involvement on the part of “Society” in the affairs of poetry, is by and large not personal. There is no one out to get the poet.

    Whatever response our poetry gets from our readership or our lack of readership is just feedback. Sometimes this feedback will cause us to have insights with regard to remedial frames we might try and employ to reach a greater audience, and sometime they won’t.

    If something is persistently not working – try anything else…

    If the old business models for ascertaining whether something is useful or not is to be employed to guess at “Poetry’s popularity, then it seems that poetry is not so popular as other forms of writing.

    To sell anything there has to be a market in existence already, or a market has to be created. In the case of poetry, I think that in terms of the marketplace, it’s that the market has to be recreated.

    I am an old style poet, so for me this is a bit more frustrating. But for many newer style poets – spoken word poets, performance poets, and rappers come to mind, this has been easier. They have recreated or reconnected people to the resonance – the sound of words and what they mean better than I or many other poets have. So the feedback from the world is that they will receive more relevance. That’s just the way it is.

    And I can now say that’s OK.

    As for the Poet poets, the ones who write in more traditional styles, it is of them and for them that this post was written…

    I really like your observations and I thank you for adding your thoughts to my post.


  3. it seems to me that poetry is by large only for poet or wanna be poets (as myself). i know not even one person who read poetry and not dealing with it himself. few that does are coming from other art schools.
    what does it all says about poetry and the situation of poetry i have no clue.
    i like observation too (once called a ‘list poet’)and enjoyed your list as such, thank you for sharing it..


  4. #14 isn’t true. There are people making a living as poets, most of them through performance though. #19 is true, although it has always fascinated me why so many people, on their first visit to my site, check out the links page before anything else. The rest are all good, I think. In the end, only the poets can change it, it’s our responsibility. Oh and Poeticgrin’s 2nd paragraph is a thing of beauty and should be shoved under every nose. Nepotism is one of the main causes of poetry losing its audience.

  5. Hello Paul, #14 is as almost true as can be…but is not exactly true, I agree.

    As for the blogroll thingy…oh well, some forget that it is content that rules the end of the day…without it ya got nothing…still I do appreciate that you added my site to yours, its kinda cozy at gingatao.

    And with regards to Poeticgrin, he hit the nail on the head, as did your observation about nepotism being one of the causes of poetry losing its audience…



  6. Really great article about poetry,I enjoyed reading it 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Utopian Fragments – Thanks for your comments…

  8. you are welcome.
    i will add, about that blogroll. personally, whenever i come across a new literal blog i like, i do chack the blogroll. only guessing that if i like the artist i will like what he likes or at the least i want to see what he likes..


  9. On the bright side: Perhaps a now “unknown”, unpublished poet, whose work, languishing away on some unread blog, will be “discovered” Emily-Dickinson-like decades from now — after their death.

    Something to look forward to.

  10. Phil Thrift – I am sure all writers and creative types want this, to have their talent hidden away, tied up, and found years later like a treasure waiting to have been found – beats a blank I guess, but not by much…

    Thanks for your addition to this…


  11. Hey, how did I miss this one? Was I asleep? Good observations, Poet Man. #14 made me laugh (I know it too well). #15 made me think. I’ll add one. A poet keeps writing, even when nobody will read. Blogrolls come and go…people come and go…praise comes and goes…but poetry is like the sea. You’re doing just fine:) I don’t think you’re being a cry baby or an elitist. We grow thick skin, but sometimes we have to get on the rooftop and scream.

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