k: heart heart heart hearts! love heart heart loveheart poetry!
do you like my heart-poem? okay, i'm just playing around, but i suppose i am also making a point.
like any art form, poetry is not worth a dime unless it's hard to do. if every mama and papa on every block around the world could write it, we wouldn't have blogs about it. okay, one wiseass would, but that's a topic on blogs, not poetry.
almost everyone can walk. we don't give out awards to people for their ability to walk (though some people do it better than others).
batman's hallmark brand of love poems wouldn't fly in the hey-days of poetry, just like they don't now. but he's so popular, you think? maybe he is, but not for his poetry. he is a great self-publisizer; a bull who kicks doors down instead of knocking.
the story about that poet whose poem was rejected on the bias of one man against one word. that's extreme i think, but also sounds completely plausible. that's the way modern publishers play. they must get hit with so much poetry that they employee a monkey to read them and throw out the ones with specific words in them.
the new yorker's selection of poems has always and will always bug me. while i love martin espada and peter gizzi (partially due to them both teaching at umass and having encountered them as people, not poets) but the poems are so predictable and so ... straight.
we're slowly stepping away from inspiration/uninspired towards expectations and qualifications and talent etc etc... but they are all so closely tucked into one another, it's sometimes impossible to distinguish. at least i think so.
i'm sure that there are poets who aspire (inspire, aspire, inspire, aspire) to get published in particular journals, who then write in that style and hope to appeal to the board.
a: Ah, the problem of "difficulty"... In all honesty, and even though my mother and some friends think my poetry difficult, I have never been a fan of difficulty as a standard. I know you probably mean standard or measure, but I always thought ease is in a sense more difficult to achieve (how many paradoxes can you pack into one sentence). I do not find anything redeeming about a means of communication that makes it difficult to communicate. Now, I am certainly now advising that we all go talking in bullet points, but I do think difficulty is overrated. The origin of that might be that rebellious child in me who hated difficult texts and was arrogant enough to dismiss the text as failed rather than himself, and then realized that their is a very rigorous logic and substance to that egotistical laziness of his. Now, art standards have become infinitely more problematic I think in modern times. The necessity for skill versus self-promotion is certainly debatable post-Duchamp. But yes, even so, one can't deny the existence of standards (though I would constantly argue that other complicating factors such as connections have perhaps become more obvious due to the opening up of standards).
And I hope I didn't come across as being too antagonistic in my earlier e-mail, but I guess that I always hope that when I err I err on the side of "heart", whatever that means. I hope I never become so jaded as I forget what I cared about in the first place. Another one of those silly restrictions placed on contemporary poetry I read in that Poets Market (granted, it is not exactly academic material). It was an interview with one of the jurors on the T.S.Eliot prize (which I think by most standards is considered reputable). And one of his "rules of thumb" for judging a manuscript was to count the number of poems of the first ten, say, that have I or me or any form of first person in the first few lines of a poem; and if it's above a certain number, he dismisses the manuscript... Now I understand that this is simply the futile exercise of making objective rules for the very subjective aesthetics, but the first poem that came to my mind is Neruda's "Everybody", that great one that starts with "I, Perhaps I never will be"... Now these may seems like cosmetic problems, but I think they are fundamental: the elimination of the heart (or passion or whatever) and that of ego. I just can't imagine a poetry deprived of these, and in many ways poetry has been deprived of them. I don't know if that's what you mean by poetry being "too straight".
But back to inspiration, right? I am not really sure, dear, where to go with this topic. I am certainly not versed enough or read enough in any of these topics to conduct a well-maintained debate. But I can at least consider myself a well-educated audience member, and as such I feel entitled to my knee-jerk opinions. Maybe I'll revisit this later.