From time to time, I have been tempted to describe the influence of friends of poetry on poetry these days as "pernicious." However, in my dictionary "pernicious" is defined as "that which does great harm by insidiously undermining or weakening." Were it not for "insidiously" (the suggestion that the undermining must be done by treachery or slyness), "pernicious" would fit. However, I must recognize that poetry's "friends" are doing what they do believing that they are saving poetry or promoting it and are not bent upon poetry's destruction. The rub is that, because they do not know what poetry (as art) is, the effect of their promotions is to destroy the very art they think they are furthering.
Thus, I have been critical of POETRY Magazine and many other current publications that present "free verse" as poetry. They are not the only culprits. According to the Times article referred to below, in 2010 there were 852 degree-conferring creative writing programs on campuses across this nation. They have done nothing to arrest the notion that "free verse" is not verse, much less poetry. But it is not just these publications and writing programs that are undermining poetry, it is other well-intentioned promoters of what they believe is poetry. Just this week, I read an article in Wednesday's The New York Times on "poets laureate," indicating that they are proliferating rapidly. No longer do we just have a national "poet laureate" appointed by the Library of Congress, but now all but six states have poet laureateships and many cities and towns have followed suit. There are many reasons why "poets laureate," merely by accepting the position, demonstrate that they are not knowledgeable about what poetry (as art) is and how it is written, among them the facts that (1) they accept to use words to convey a message on behalf of the community that appoints them and (2) their poems are generally conveyed to their intended audiences through poetry readings
.Tags: POETRY magazine, free verse