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Showing posts from December, 2013

The new poetry?

Decades ago people stopped reading poetry. Perhaps it was because it was too esoteric, too irrelevant, or just too silly sounding. Maybe it was because there was a lot of bad poetry being written. In any case, beyond a few university presses and micro-journals there is very little print being devoted to poetry these days.

But writers of poetry abound. There is no small demand at creative writer workshops and MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) programs. Everybody wants to be the next Eliot, but no one wants to actually read Eliot.

The same fate, I fear, is due other arts. Local theater is dying. On a recent Saturday afternoon, the seats were empty at a pretty decent production of a Neil Simon play. Most of those present had come on a bus from a senior citizen home. I saw one person who might have been under thirty. Probably the driver of the bus.

If you are a painter, then you know how poets feel. Everybody wants to paint and draw; no one wants to pay for your work of genius.

Are you a ballet da…

The truth and the lie

A while back an acquaintance said that he only read nonfiction, as he was interested in the truth. Feeling like I needed to chime in, I said I read fiction for the same reason. I added that poetry was even more true than fiction (stories, novels, plays). Puzzled by this, I tried to explain it but I'm afraid I wasn't successful. I made the comparison that historical books (here I mean nonfiction, not historical period pieces) are like map-making. The author researches his topic like the geographer, then picks and chooses certain geographical data to include. To see that he needs to pick some and discard others is obvious: to include all data points, a map-maker would make a map as large as the earth (if that's what he's mapping). But we put too much weight here on "data points." The truth is so much more than "Mr Lincoln arrived at his law practice early on the morning of June 7th, 1837." The reader wants to know motives, reactions, emotions. Thes…