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

Friday, January 11, 2013

Business Card Poetry

Arielle Greenberg
    If you see the poetry lectures, criticism/blurbs or articles being produced today you may notice a whole glossary of expressions describing crowd-pleasing tricks, concepts and forms absent from the discussion (and, to press a point, the underlying contemporary poems, if any).  Given how little these English and MFA graduates know or care about poetry technique, you have to wonder what they are being taught.  After a brief web search I stumbled upon a lecture on the craft of poetry wherein the closest the professor came to technical matters was at the 33 minute mark when she mentioned her favorite font.  Moments later I found "A (Slightly Qualified) Defense of MFA Programs: Six Benefits of Graduate School" by Arielle Greenberg on Poets.org:

  1. MFA programs are where you find out what to read.

  2. MFA programs are where you find out how to read.

  3. MFA programs can make workshop [sic] wonderful.

  4. MFA programs are where you find community.

  5. MFA programs are where you make connections.

  6. MFA programs are where you find yourself.

     Obviously, the interest in poetry is strictly social and/or professional.  Such poetry is like a business card, used to impress those who can advance our prospects.  Usually, this entails self-perpetuation:  teaching such networking to the next generation of networking teachers...and on and on it goes.  Their motivation is neither cynical nor sinister.  It is practical.  There is no thought of an audience because poetry doesn't have one.*    There is no thought of technique because there is no one to appreciate it.**  There is no thought of mnemonics because that which everyone ignores isn't worth memorizing or quoting.  Instead, these academics, actual or aspiring, are like 7th-9th century Irish monks preserving literature against the indifference, repression and upheavals of their Age (Dark or Modern).  It is a noble and vital endeavor.

     Still, you have to wonder:  "What would a Creative Writing course look like if it were geared toward producing poetry that people might actually want to hear?"

     Stay tuned!

New Creative Writing Syllabus for Poetry:

  1. Introductions

  2. Markets

  3. Forms, media and venues

  4. Subjects and objects

  5. Critique: Workshopping with knowledgeable peers

  6. Criticism versus promotion

  7. Presentation


* That this might be a causation spiral would be dismissed as mere speculation.

** For what it's worth, slam poetry isn't drawing a lot of nonparticipants either.

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