Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Everything you need to know about poetry

I contend that everything one needs to know about poetry can be discerned directly or indirectly from these two scenarios, both of which must have played out in every nascent civilization:

Scene #1:

The alpha tribesperson gets up in front of the group and delivers what appears to be a significant, inspired message. Unfortunately, language hasn't been developed yet so the audience can only nod obsequiously, careful not to offend their leader. Everyone tries to avoid these encounters, their motivation being intimidation, boredom or the lingering suspicion that the speaker is full of shit.

Scene #2:

Soon after establishing a common language the primordials gather around the campfire. Experience being limited, there is a paucity of material, such that separate members end up telling the same story. Plotlines that survive long enough become part of that group's culture, history, religion and lore. The entertainment comes in the different ways these speakers relate the same events. This is the basis of prose. Occasionally, a performer "nails it" so perfectly that the audience decides to preserve that rendition intact by memorizing it. That is the basis of poetry.

Ramifications of Scene #1:

This is history reminding us what happens when we lose our audience. It doesn't really matter what the cause: babble instead of communication, competition, boredom, lack of tools, venues or media, et cetera. When audiences exhibit the "good night" response, fleeing if they can, sleeping if they must, a predictable set of interdependent circumstances unfolds:

  1. the art form is defined by its producers;

    ...since there are no consumers.
  2. the art form is indistinguishable from prose;

    Why worry about form when no one is watching?
  3. authorities monopolize the podium;

    This is almost tautological since, by definition, authorities monopolize everything. Apathy makes their job easier, though. No one is going to storm the stage to grab the microphone and speak to the crowd when there is no mic, no language and, above all, no crowd. Just as despots avoid or rig elections they can't win, the absence of an audience serves the purpose of authorities who lack the language to please one.
  4. a knee-jerk reaction to popularism reigns;

    If the audience were comprised of the society's more sophisticated members might not the distinction between popularism and meritocracy become blurred? Even if/when all language is reduced to onomatopoeia, authorities won't want to see a cult of personality grow around, say, the best bird-caller.
  5. criticism becomes unthinkable;

    A tribe is a small community; those hoping to address it rate to be smaller still in number. Forget criticism; even disapproval would be considered antisocial, if not downright treasonous. Besides, what would be the basis of criticism in an environment where technique hasn't been studied and, lacking a contemporary canon of icons, no standards for excellence have been set? It follows logically that, in this culture of nods and blurbs:
  6. the lack of iconic examples is no coincidence;

    The insignificance of the text, coupled with indiscriminate praise, ensures that neither a meritocracy nor a prosody can take hold.
  7. the speakers remain convinced that their utterances are vital and profound;

    ...while, in truth, such blatherings are too incoherent for prose and too dull for poetry. In many cultures language may have been inspired by the burning need of "poets" to discover that they weren't, in fact, poets.
  8. humorlessness;

    Authorities would be keenly aware that humor would include parodies of their performances. This being the case, humor would be limited to dessicated intertextual allusions--gibberish congratulating other gibberish.
  9. solipsism;

    Speaking a language no one else understands and with no one else listening, why discuss anything beyond the speaker's own concerns?
  10. contempt for audiences;

    ...whose inability to understand nonsense is, of course, entirely their own fault.
  11. a pall is cast on all attempts at communication;

    The tribe becomes more insular, suspicious of speech itself. Thus, a case is made against language. Fortunately, we have a Catch-22: that case can't be articulated.
  12. and, as the bottom line: in the absence of an audience speakers compete to be the most conspicuously ignored.

    Worse yet, the language doesn't exist to describe exactly how hollow such a victory is...and how integral an audience is to any form of communication.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Ramifications of Scene #2:

While Scene #1 may be of greater interest to those invested in the post-WWI poetry world, it is Scene #2 that strikes at the definition of poetry as memorable speech, not necessarily rhythmic speech.

  1. Poets didn't create poetry. Audiences did.

    These audiences weren't mere arbiters, declaring that this is prose while that is poetry, good or bad. Their efforts to preserve the words in memory was, itself, what changed performances into poems. Poetry didn't merely respect the audience; it was the audience.
  2. Posterity honors the best, not the first.

    The version that caught on with listeners might have been the seventh as easily as the first. This illustrates how content regency is a mug's game. Even if we come up with something new under the sun someone can come along, say it better and we're SOL. Altogether now:

    • It ain't about what you say.
    • It ain't about how you say it.
    • It's about how well you say it.

  3. Poetry was prose.

    Given that techniques and forms weren't developed yet, poetry was originally identical to prose. Something was a poem solely because it was preserved intact by listeners. Some could spin the current fashion, prose qua poetry, as a return to poetry's roots. Others could describe it as the original failed aesthetic, prosody replacing it with prose poetry, free verse and then meter. The latter group may be inclined to describe post-WWI poetry as a devolution from meter to free verse to prose poetry to prose.
  4. Poems were iconic.

    By definition.
  5. Poetry was never as much fun as song.

    People really don't listen to song lyrics. Atheists have their favorite hymns while believers sing along to Lennon's "Imagine". Clearly, people aren't taking the message of these songs seriously.

    As a medium, poetry is more persuasive, more like rhetoric than lyrics. Most prefer to be entertained than persuaded, though. As long as beach parties draw greater crowds than political parties poetry will take a back seat to song.
  6. Poetry thrived in Apollonian, authoritarian and puritanical environments.

    Most primitive societies probably fit this bill, with power resting in the hands of the strongest and/or the most capable of providing food.

    Compare the Georgian and Victorian generations--the last in which verse reigned--to the speakeasy flappers of the 1920s, when poetry died. Until the Depression kicked in the post-WWI era was Dionysian, democratic (e.g. universal suffrage), and, obviously, more sexually liberated than the decades before the war. Let's take these three in order:

    • Many poets have been dipsomaniacs but few qualified as Dionysian "party animals"; most were either mean drunks or quiet ones.
    • Anyone who has survived an open mic understands the price that democracy brings to poetry. Does a grass roots approach produce better art? One need look no further than our recent leaders to know that democracy and meritocracy are two very different things.
    • As for puritanism, poetry served well as a way of flirting, even in the presence of parents, when daughters weren't allowed out of sight. How many of us owe our lineage's existence to poetry?

  7. Poetry was, by definition, elitist.

    Thousands of performances might result in one poem. Just as the perfection of an endeavor destroys it (e.g. there are no tic-tac-toe championships), that poem would become the only version of that story and was not to be paraphrased. There were no bad poems; why bother memorizing mediocrity? In theory at least, the worst poem was better than the best prose. Poets were often venerated. In every sense, aspect and stage, then, poetry was elitist.
  8. Comedy was king.

    Even in the strictest hierarchical societies exceptions would have been made for anyone who could make people laugh--at least as long as they weren't laughing openly at authority figures! To this day, an unknown poet's best chance of publication comes with light verse, especially if intending to publish in more lucrative and numerous non-literary outlets.
  9. The expression "forgettable poetry" was an oxymoron.

    Today it is the standard.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Convenient Poetics

"Poets...are...the laziest, stupidest people I know."
- Christian Bök - Kelly Writers House, UPenn, November 18, 2009

Convenient Poetics ("ConPo") is now the dominant force in English language poetry, eclipsing even Content Regency. Advocates of Convenient Poetics, known as "ConPoets", embrace their philosophy with the pious dedication of living martyrs. ConPo tenets include:

1. That which we do not understand cannot be important.

"I don't need to learn about scansion. I write free verse!"

2. There is no such thing as bad poetry.

"The 'Tay Bridge Disaster' isn't poetry; it's doggerel!"

3. Criticism must never contain criticism.

"Hey, what goes around comes around, right?"

4. Humorlessness is next to godliness.

"They say that those with no sense of humor have no sense at all but poetry is no laughing matter!"

5. Overcomplication is the seal of the truth.

"...and it pays the bills!"

6. The customer is always wrong.

"Don't like my poetry? Should I 'dumb it down' for you?"

7. Reject others, lest they reject you.

"Why would any self-respecting author want to write anything the public would want to read?"

8. Thou shalt commit verbosity.

"To paraphrase Mao: 'Why use one word when we can use a thousand?' Seriously, who's gonna pay to hear one measly word?"

9. Segmentation is unity.

"The smaller the readership the more intimate the experience."

10. People never really liked poetry.

"Robert Service didn't really make $500,000 from one poem, did he?"

11. Poetry can't be defined.

"Poetry is whatever someone presents as poetry. Why let the audience decide? Especially when there isn't one!"

12. Thy navel is the Lord, thy God. Thou shalt not have strange navels before It.

"'I contain multitudes!' Pardon me, but are you laughing or yawning?"

13. Academics, critics and editors are a waste of time.

"Why bother studying? This poetry shit is easy!"

14. Poetry can't be taught.

"Well, not to me, at least."

15. Poetry can't be dead.

       "That would require almost no one knowing a line of it written in the last two generations."


        "Oh, wait..."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Musicality Morass

Almost every authority has mentioned the "music" or "musicality" of poetry. In the right hands both verse and music have, among other things, rhythm, pace, pauses, tone, and movement in common. This being the case, why are there so few people who have mastered both disciplines? Know any composers who were great poets? Vice versa? Among the living, Leonard Cohen may come closest: he wrote three best selling books of poetry and has won his nation's highest award for both poetry and songwriting but I'd stop well short of comparing his music to the great composers of our time.

The truth is that while both are art forms music and verse are two completely different types of endeavour. Music is like chess in that it is intrinsically logical and self-contained: after we learn the rudiments our innate ability kicks in, allowing us to intuit what comes next. The skill requires more practice than learning, though both are essential to attain the level of refinement needed to compete with other masters. Not surprisingly, we have seen quite a few chess and musical prodigies in our history.

Poetry is language. It is like bridge in that it is arbitrary: we need to learn a wide variety of systems, conventions and vocabulary before we can perform at a competent level. There is etymology but no universal logic to words; otherwise what we call "a pencil" wouldn't be called "un crayon" in France and "karandash" in Russia. Innate ability may help us win a spelling bee but it won't allow us to unravel a new language based on a few grammar and syntax rules, nor will it allow us to "reinvent" poetry without long exposure to it and an understanding of its rudiments. This explains why there are few, if any, bridge or poetry prodigies. Arthur Rimbaud may be the closest thing to our mythical "natural poet" but his youth was devoted to the study of literature.

Obviously, there is no positive correlation between musical and poetic acumen. Is there a negative one? I believe there is.

Let's begin with lyrics. Most of the great lyricists of our time work in unsophisticated musical genres, primarily folk: Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkle, et cetera. As we ascend the scale of musical complexity the lyrics get progressively worse, hitting their nadir with the libretto.

What about individuals, though? Does musical ability decrease the likelihood that one will be able to write poetry as well as others in the same intelligence bracket? If so, how?

I have a number of "poet" friends who are either musicians or music critics. All have extremely sophisticated tastes. Not one of these could write competent, interesting rhythmic verse--free or metrical--to save their lives. Most can't detect it when they hear it.

"I've immersed myself in music for decades. You're trying to tell me that I don't recognize rhythm? How can that be?"

Answer: The rhythms of speech and the rhythms of music are entirely different. Melisma is one of thousands of things a lyricist can get away with that a poet cannot: Bruce Springsteen makes multiple beats out of the word "I" in singing "I'm on Fire". Try that in speech and you'll look like a mo-o-o-o-ron.

I can see these people playing music in their heads as they read their prose-with-linebreaks or ham-fisted doggerel aloud. They are the poetic equivalent of tone deaf air guitarists singing in the shower. They have what I call "sonic dysplasia": a gifted music lover's inability to discern or create verbal rhythmic alignments. The frustration is compounded by the fact that the sufferers don't know they are afflicted. Not one understands why poetry audiences and editors avoid them.

Is the condition treatable? Maybe. However, it might be that the ability to hear musical rhythms occludes one's ability to discern poetic ones. Perhaps this is something future human psychologists will investigate. Unfortunately, squirrel psychologists are too busy trying to understand why we act so...well...squirrelly.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Watermelon Problem - Part II

We ended Part I of this discussion with the provocative question: "What does it say when a periodical has no such special editions?" That is, what if a publication doesn't highlight any iconic poems?

Respondent Christine Klocek-Lim pointed out that "the editor is too freaking busy already and...may not recognize the watermelon is a watermelon, tucked as it is between the broccoli and brussels sprouts". That is the watermelon problem at fast forward speed. A dominant jewel needs a prominent setting. Literary history is full of masterpieces being rejected by overworked examiners. No editor or contest judge wants to miss the next "Prufrock", as Harriet Monroe would have without Ezra Pound to provide the pedestal and definitions, the mound and space.

Rostrums and stages are built for a reason. What is the sense of having filters and filters for filters (e.g. assistant editors, screeners, bird-dogs like Ezra Pound, etc.) if we don't have a credible way to spotlight the next "Sonnet 43"? This is particularly important in an age of "channel-surfer" readers.

How did all of this come up? A friend of mine--yes, I do have friends--is an exceptionally sharp critic. This isn't the usual pontificating guardian of good taste. My buddy will go line-by-line, iterating myriad ways to have improved the writing and listing 12 different cases, compete with hyperlinks, where another poet has said the same thing better. In the end, his reader wonders why the underlying verse was ever published, let alone anthologized. This character is certainly not given to blurbing, hype or hyperbole. Imagine my shock when he emailed to tell me that he'd stumbled across "one of only three immortal poems from this decade". (He didn't need to tell me the other two.)

He wondered what could be done with such a diamond. "Can't send it to a poetry magazine, given their lack of readership and track record: no widely recognized poems in half a century. The New Yorker? No. This is the opposite of their typical fare. Trade mags? Not without a narrow focus and a long explanation. YouTube is a thought, if the poet has the networking and capital to produce and promote a video worthy of the text."

Both the author and the person being eulogized in verse have been described as recluses, modest to a fault, never seeking or receiving fortune, fame or the company of celebrities. The writer of this particular poem is known for ambiguity and strong opening lines. This entry doesn't disappoint:

There are no stars for us.

The elegy contains something few others do: humor. I'm not talking about wry tragicomedy, polite grins or wan nostalgia. I'm talking about a gut-busting laugh, something that will seem entirely inappropriate to anyone unfamiliar with the deceased's devilishly irreverent sense of humor.

The final stanza includes lines like:

You told the wicked truth
and I the honest lie.

Can you guess the name of the poet? The deceased?


Monday, May 9, 2011

The Question

In "Who Killed Poetry?" we saw how poetry got its ass kicked by song, starting in the early 1920s. It follows that the only question we need to ask ourselves is: "How can words trump lyrics?"

Let's begin with what we know or can confidently surmise:

  • Every culture developed both poetry and song long before the ability to record either.

  • Before the written word, at least, what distinguished poetry and song from what we now call "prose" was that verse was memorized, performed and preserved word-for-word.

  • When literacy was developed the convenience of text tilted the balance in favor of poetry. That is, before 1920 people could recite more contemporary poems than contemporary lyrics.

  • Poetry's advantage was nullified when, due to radio, music became at least as easy to disseminate as poetry.

  • The cross-cultural decline in poetry's popularity since the 1920s has been neither universal nor uniform. By far the hardest hit has been anglophone popular culture, from which contemporary poetry has disappeared.

The sky hasn't fallen. Indeed, this disappearance has gone largely unnoticed. Out of sight, out of mind. (Indeed, when that expression was translated literally into Russian and back into English the result was "invisible idiots"; that's not a bad description of how poets are regarded today!) Society seems to have survived quite well without poetry. For the sake of this discussion, though, let's assume that poetry could matter and that our culture would benefit from absorbing more of it. Rather than complain about the lack of iconic contemporary verse or sing silly choruses of "Yes, we have no watermelons" let's consider the question:

"How can poetry compete with song?"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Watermelon Problem - Part I

     Please take this Commercial Poetry Challenge:  Go to, say, Poetry Magazine and try to read the verse there without saying to yourself:  "Surely they have better submissions than this...!" followed by the inevitable "So what do they do with the good stuff?"

My neighbor is trying to grow watermelon. Again. Being a squirrel, I watch her progress with considerable interest. Unfortunately, she is no gardener. Her failure stems from a lack of acreage and/or education; a watermelon requires its own mound and considerable distance between plants.

Suppose you were to have encountered a blindingly brilliant poem. For the sake of argument, let's say there is no argument; this was, flat out, one of the two or three greatest poems of our time. Chances are good that you read or heard the poem at a slam, reading, open mic or in a book, workshop or 'zine. Chances are good that fifteen seconds after those transcendental moments your reverie was broken by another poem. Chances are good that you've already spotted The Watermelon Problem.

Put such a poem anywhere near another and both will suffer from the juxtaposition. The lesser work is being upstaged while the better one creates, at best, a certain guilt by association or, at worst, a situation where proximity is profanity.

    As a vendor, don't get so addicted to such sweetness that you reject lesser fruit.  The supply of watermelon is too short and the off-season to long for your business to survive selling only watermelon.

As an Editor-in-Chief of a premier literary magazine what do you do if such an unpublished poem drops into your lap? Yes, I know, you publish it, but where and how?

If you include it in your usual lineup of new poems, without comment, you might give people the impression that you don't recognize the difference between "good enough to publish" and spectacular. If you acknowledge the fact that this poem doesn't belong with the others you insult the rest of your lineup. Obvious solution: Create an unscheduled special edition featuring that poem and no other.

Give the watermelon its mound and space.

I should stop here but I can never quit while I'm ahead. The question arises: "What does it say when a periodical has no such special editions?"

Soon: The Only Question that Matters


Monday, May 2, 2011

Time for some good news

In previous posts we've demonstrated the obvious: poetry is dead, killed by music [on the radio]. Today we'll see that the corpse has, if not a pulse, a promising future as a re-incarnate or reanimation. We begin with some seemingly unrelated observations:

1. Apples and Oranges:

"Want to make popularity based on sales as the criterion of poetic worth? Think about the following:

"Bestselling poet in England between 1560 and 1640 (the era of Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, Donne, Herbert, and the early Milton, to name just a few) -- Thomas Tusser (he outsold most of those poets even when you take all their works sold during that period combined).

"Bestselling English poet between 1890 and 1914 (era of Housman, late Tennyson and Browning, Hardy, and numerous others of note) -- Norman Rowland Gale."

- (Gazebo, 2007-03-19)

Can you spot the flaw in this argument?

2. Feedback:

Many audience members love the chance to respond. The Internet enables this, as with Facebook's Thumps Up feature, YouTube's Thumbs Up/Down option, and numeric evaluations on discussion software packages like VBulletin (1-to-10) or sites like Zoetrope (1-to-5). These are things that a computer can easily collect, quantify and report. What effect will this have on the audience's role in artistic expression?

3. Distribution:

Previously unknown artist Will-I-Am took Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" speech and made it into a found poem, set it to music and watched it "go viral" on the internet within days, profoundly affecting history. Compare this to the resounding thud of Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem. What lessons can we learn from this?

4. Icons:

Celebrities such as Jewel Kilcher, Suzanne Summers and ex-President Jimmy Carter have written books of poetry without much critical or commercial success. Meanwhile, aside from Dr. Seuss, the most successful recent U.S. poets have been Billy Collins, Charles Bukowski and Maya Angelou, all of whom had to augment their income in order to survive. Even their fans are hard pressed to quote their work from memory. Indeed, New York Yankee baseball player Yogi Berra has contributed more to modern idiom and culture than all six of these "poets" combined. How can we expect this art to thrive with no commercial, cultural or aesthetic success stories? Art without money? Maybe. Art without impact? Unlikely. Art without art? No, thanks.

4. Development:

Online educational resources, coupled with Internet workshops, offer unprecedented opportunities for aspiring poets to develop their technique and critical judgement. Those who don't avail themselves of this information will have difficulty competing against those who do. What does that say about the quality of poetry in future generations?

5. Convenience and Economy:

The online version of the same poem, published by the same editor, will get many times the viewers than the print version will. This is true even of archives, where the reader has to wait a month or more. E-Book sales are gaining on books purchased from brick-and-mortar stores. What opportunities and challenges does this present editors?

6. E-Commerce:

The Internet is in its infancy. E-commerce standards and prices are downright antediluvian. At present, tiny amounts are simply not worth collecting; the online banking concern scoops up all such proceedings. What might happen if this were to change? Bearing in mind that it is all automated, who would turn down even a fraction of a penny every time people arrive at a popular commercial site? More to the point, what does this have to do with poetry?

When dealing with anything cheap and plentiful, like poetry, filters become paramount. Which of these can a consumer trust?

Let's consider some inferences and conclusions that we can draw from these observations and arguments.

  1. The "Apples and Oranges" error was in comparing the book and magazine sales of an author, Tusser, to those of a dramatist, Shakespeare. Compare book, magazine and ticket sales and we'll notice that, thanks to the latter, Shakespeare outsold Tusser, Gale and all of the other poets mentioned combined. Maybe those people in Shakespeare's pits weren't such unreliable taste indicators after all!

    Conclusion: Just as "the customer is always right", there is no better judge than the audience. We must be careful not to confuse this broad audience with the public; our purview is limited to those who enjoy any of the media that may contain poetry: dramatizations, books, magazines, movies, videos, television montages, et cetera.

  2. The broader the feedback, the more useful it is to any art or artist seeking wider appeal. The internet's ability to collect, collate and rationalize such evaluative feedback is unprecedented, thanks largely to people who were able to stay awake longer in Stats class than I ever could. Once formats are standardized a web search will be able to fetch results sorted by quality, best first. For example, were you to type "sonnet" into such a futuristic web browser you would see a list with Sonnet LXXIII at or near the top. Want something newer? "Sonnet 2006" would lead you directly to "Antiblurb" by A.E. Stallings.

    Conclusion: Poems will have to compete on merit. That's a good thing.

  3. On July 14, 2009, while Harriet was still an interactive blog, John Oliver Simon wrote:

    "We 'high culture' poets don’t like to look at categories this way,

    "Bob Dylan is the most important American poet of the last fifty years.
    By far. And he has never lacked for an audience.

    "Dylan took an end run around 'poetry' the same way Shakespeare did,
    by casting it into a popular, low-culture, out-of-category form.

    "I mean, what has Ashbery, or Charles Bernstein, or Sharon Olds, or
    Billy Collins, or anybody you love or I love, got to put up [a]gainst
    'to live outside the law you must be honest'?

    "And it’s all right, Ma."

    Conclusion: It doesn't take a Shakespearean scholar, film director or a musicologist to tell us that poetry works best when combined with other art forms into a dual- or multimedia presentation, if not a dramatization. Granted, "Yes We Can" was more rhetoric and song than poetry but it brings us closer to that one big breakthrough--the poem that everyone will know--and demonstrates that verse's future is on YouTube, not Amazon.com. As for Ms. Alexander, children may love being read to. Adults? Not so much.

  4. Have you ever noticed how the songs that made the Beatles famous (e.g. "She Loves You", "I Wanna Hold Your Hand") are not the ones being played on the Golden Oldy stations? Rather, we hear the songs that have a little more gravitas in their lyrics (e.g. "Eleanor Rigby", Lennon's "Imagine").

    Conclusion: Quality outs, although it may take its time doing so. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) said: "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public." Nevertheless, we notice how, despite the hype, Americans judiciously rejected those six "popular" "poets" (Jewel Kilcher, Suzanne Summers, Jimmy Carter, Billy Collins, Charles Bukowski and Maya Angelou), whose combined income from poetry amounts to less than Robert Service made from one poem.

  5. Thanks to online workshops and educational resources which, unlike textbooks, can be challenged and corrected in situ, the hobbyist of the near future may be more knowledgeable about the elements of the craft than today's MFA graduate.

    "The simplest schoolboy is now familiar with truths for which Archimedes would have sacrificed his life."

    - Ernest Renan

    Conclusion: The poets of 2050 will be markedly better than those of 1950. You heard it here first!

  6. "Show me the money!"

    Most webzines, including some of the better ones, are labors of love. A few receive government funding while some get advertising revenues but both of those sources of funding are drying up. Only a very few magazines and even fewer webzines are paying venues. In short, there is little enough money in print poetry and virtually none in online verse. The good news is that a webzine can cost less than $10.00 per month to maintain.

    Suppose you went to an online poetry venue and were greeted with a screen asking for a nickel per visit or $1.00 for a yearly subscription. Would you allow the charge? If you say "no" you'd be guided to a limited access, sampler version of the website. If you say "yes", you and thousands like you may have solved the venue's financial problems.

    It will take a few years before we see such integration among the web sites, personal profiles and the banks. Nevertheless, the future will involve multimedia, portability, convenience, quality, feedback, access, traffic volume and low costs for both publishers (including archived versions of print publications) and consumers.

    Conclusion: Once the educational, critical, promotional and financial considerations mature into convergence the opportunities for poetry will reach heights not envisioned in even the golden era of verse. This inevitability could take a generation or two, though.

One final thought: We speak in terms of an impatient soundbyte generation with the attention span of a gnat on bennies dispensing fame in 15 minute doses. How could that be anything but fertile ground for an art form that prides itself on concision?

Soon: Literacy's Distortions

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