Poetry is a competition, as is the pursuit of jobs teaching it. One is an artistic endeavor, though, and the other is commerce. How much of the PoBiz is poetry and how much is business?
North Carolina Poet Laureate Scandal to a slam contest. The former was a PoBiz concern related directly to employment. Not surprisingly, we saw "three friends", the Carolina Arts Council, and "a stranger", Valerie Macon.
Slam is at the far end of the spectrum. While the PoBiz is a labor exchange, slams are, for better or worse, exercises in democracy. Judges are drawn from the crowd. Highest scoring participant wins. Simple, right?
"But aren't slams cliquish?"
People who wonder this are inferring that, by "democracy", we mean people voting for candidates. No. More often than not, the Realpolitik of democracy involves people voting against candidates.
|Piping in the vote results|
Between these two extremes, the more directly a decision affects possible employment the stronger the "three friends and a stranger" influence. Publishers associated with colleges or poetry organizations tend to be more closed in terms of participation and audience input. That is, neither the poet nor the poetry are crowd-pleasers. Contests--especially those with blind judging--and independent publishers tend to be more merit-based and audience-oriented. The explains the vast difference in name recognition, aesthetics and entertainment value between The Paris Review or Poetry Magazine and Rattle, The Pedestal, or TheHyperTexts.