has declined by 62% between 1991 and 2013. Between 1971 and 2013, the number of Creative Writing degrees has increased by 908% while the number of programs has increased by about 500%.
As for the poetry, it is like vacation pictures: of no interest to anyone beyond family and friends, few of whom will venture to read any of the other poems in the publication. The bios and, of course, the index are of far greater import than the verse. When announcing the publication of cousin Pat's poem be sure to include the page number or, if online, a direct link to the poem, as opposed to the webzine.
|I cannot love the beast once caged, a thing that one can own.|
I cannot love the chiseled statue as I loved the stone.
"Why, everyone can be a poet," they seem to argue, "in a few easy lessons and with a boost from some co-operative publishers."
What of the calibre of poetry, though?
The editor's second concern is about finding enough poems for the next edition. Given hundreds, if not thousands, of submissions from such diverse authors, that should be a breeze, though, right?
Assuming you don't have an eidetic (i.e. photographic) memory and assuming you understand that "forgettable poetry" is an oxymoron, take a moment to count the number of poems of the last decade, 2001 to 2010, from which you can remember snippets. Divide by ten for an annual figure. If you're lucky, then, you and every editor like you will remember three such poems per year. You can now appreciate the "quantity of quality" problem: periodicals have more than 3 poems per issue!
As Jack Underwood said: "You will find less than five really good poems."
See that 2.1% in red on the right of the diagram that is "worth a look"? A century ago, when poetry was still part of people's lives and most Grade 6 graduates knew basic scansion, this section would have offered a lot of publishable, if not great, verse. Today, with MFA grads not knowing iambs from trochees, this is your slush pile. Yes, you publish most of your work from this (or from solicited work of similar quality) but you do so reluctantly. Chances are it is weighty prose from those who believe that "only ideas are poetic" and who don't mind if there is "only a bit of 'craft' in 'art'." If they existed, this sludge would probably cost you more readers than would be gained.
We will all sleep better if we don't think about what the average submission looked like.