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Theory of Poetry Blog

Blog posts tagged in Dana Gioia

The obituary of Hilton Kramer, the Art Critic, in today's New York Times reminded me of an article he wrote in the New Criterion in February 1993 under the title "Poetry & the silencing of art." That article is accessible on the web at the following site: http://www.newcriterion.com/articleprint.cfm/Poetry---the-silencing-of-art-4691 It should be read by everyone interested in rejuvenating poetry as a high art in America. Among other things, it summarizes views expressed by Dana Gioia on the state of American poetry, agrees with those views to the extent that they note the demise of poetry as art in America, comments on some of Gioia's other views set forth in his book "Can Poetry Matter?", and concludes with the following observation: "In Mr. Gioia's discussion of these problems, something very important has been left out - the subject of popular culture. For as the silencing of high art proceeds at a rapid pace in our society, what is taking its place on a scale never seen before is the noise of the most noxious and degraded varieties of pop culture. High culture cannot compete with its lethal effects on the minds and bodies of the young - and not only the young, of course - and neither can serious education, not as it is now conducted, anyway. And as long as the juggernaut of pop culture continues to swamp everything in its path, not only will poetry remain confined "to the private world that is the poet's mind" but so will all of high art - whatever remains of it - be confined to the private world of its subculture. And what was lost? No one can judge will be a line applicable to many things we now cherish. Can Poetry Matter? is an important book, but it does not yet have an answer to the question posed in its title."

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Did You Ever Wonder What Makes "Poetry" Poetry?

Posted by on in Poetry Is

Did you ever ask yourself why poets cannot or will not write poems that can be understood?
Did you ever have an idea for a poem and find that you could not execute it?

Chances are that you were never taught that poetry is not prose, that the "poet" who begins a poem with the deliberate intent of "saying something" is working by the prose process, not by the poetic process.  One does not make poetry with ideas but with words.

If the poet does not start with an idea, how does he or she begin a poem?
How does the poet propel it forward?
How can the poet possibly expect to bring it to a successful conclusion?
What does "meaning" mean in the context of poetry?

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WAS THERE EVER WHEN?

 

Was there ever when

We were less aware

of where high art has been?

And do we even care?

 

Ever climb a stair

To find it leads nowhere

Because you had forgotten

The race is to the bottom?

 

Welcome to Lost and Found

I provide a service

One that makes academia

Exceedingly nervous.

 

Whatever happened to the art of poetry in the United States? It is not declining; it is dead. Been dead for fifty years or so.

The evidences of its death are everywhere. Ever notice that the Sunday Book Review of The New York Times in its contents page has no independent category for poetry? When, on rare occasions, a book of poetry or poetics is reviewed, the category for FICTION is changed to "FICTION AND POETRY." Makes poetry merely an afterthought, doesn't it? And anyone who knows anything about modern poetry as art knows that poetry is more allied with NONFICTION than FICTION, as poems are not prose, no longer tell a story, and only subconsciously communicate a meaning, if at all.

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