The International Anti-Poetry Month movement

Here are some excerpts of a great essay by Charles Bernstein (“Against National Poetry Month As Such”); University of Chicago Press has the whole thing available online here. It’s not very long, it’s pretty funny, and despite that there is a strong degree of honesty about it.

“National Poetry Month is about making poetry safe for readers by promoting examples of the art form at its most bland and its most morally “positive.” The message is: Poetry is good for you. But, unfortunately, promoting poetry as if it were an “easy listening” station just reinforces the idea that poetry is culturally irrelevant and has done a disservice not only to poetry deemed too controversial or difficult to promote but also to the poetry it puts forward in this way. “Accessibility” has become a kind of Moral Imperative based on the condescending notion that readers are intellectually challenged, and mustn’t be presented with anything but Safe Poetry. As if poetry will turn people off to poetry.”

… and this part I really like …

“The reinvention, the making of a poetry for our time, is the only thing that makes poetry matter. And that means, literally, making poetry matter, that is making poetry that intensifies the matter or materiality of poetry—acoustic, visual, syntactic, semantic … ”

Bernstein makes it an entertaining read while still giving some valid criticism; it’s worth reading (again, found here); also, hopefully it reinforces some of the things I’ve been wanting to discuss eventually – things like why things want to be poems, why do so many people want to make poems, and why we let so many things that are not poems be called one anyway (and why it must end!).



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