Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Tuesday, January 11, 2005  

Now, Muse, let us sing of rats!

Every now and again I take a peek at the state of the art and craft of poetry, one of my great loves, and turn away in shame and disgust. It's like checking up on your beloved but lost daughter, and seeing her turn a trick in the street. Or your lost son lying in his vomit and feces drunk in the gutter. You have to turn away as fast as you can or you will go mad screaming to heaven, howling in pain.

I once tried to fight for poetry, but it was a losing cause that I eventually abandoned. Here is an article the apprises us again of where poetry has gone. I recommend following the link to read the few samples of poems offerred. They have to be seen to be believed, but I don't have the heart to post them here. It's better with the context of the column.

From The Boston Comment:

The Best American Liturgy
How Contemporary American Poets Are Denaturing the Poem,
Part IX

Perhaps there is a parallel, cult-like aura of inviolability protecting this new writing from critical inquiry: such writing, which verges on a kind of liturgy, comes with its own form of worship and its own tenets of faith. True believers do not question its methods; they accept its sacramental texts as the Word. In neither case is readability or critical inquiry at issue. Like artifacts of automatic writing, these liturgical offerings are akin to divine revelation—believe in it or don't, but do not examine, question, or evaluate it. The church of new writing has established what every church needs: their articles of faith. They call theirs “poems.”

If there is no “best,” then every poet is as good as every other poet. Everybody gets a gold star.

The truth is, as Hejinian herself admits, there is no “bestness” in the church of new writing and that's because there can be no “bestness” when there is no means to determine whether or not one poem, or even one line of a poem, is better than another, when the field of poetry itself, built on a tradition of genius, human emotion, and the need to express universal and profound truths through the most powerful and compressed language one is able to wield, is held in so little esteem by Hejinian and her fellow practitioners that they dispense with the craft required to achieve their best, and instead promote a cult-like worship of the idea that everyone and everything is equal, that no poem shall be left behind. As a result, there is no real achievement in this year's Best American Poetry.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:00 PM |