Saturday, January 12, 2008

The matter of poetry and academia

I was interested in the results poll that just concluded on this blog concerning the influence of academia on poetry. Since the poll will be coming off the sidebar soon and likely be replaced with another issue, I will recap the results here.

Academia Influence on Poetry
  • Too much ................ 36%
  • Just right .............. 16%
  • not enough ............ 32 %
  • haven't thought about it 16%

I've not had a strong predisposition how this might have turned out. If anything, I might have thought there would be a larger number critical of the amount of influence by academia on poetry but I would not have been willing to bet on the outcome one way or the other. Perhaps the most surprising to me was the fact the the number who had not thought about it was in double digits. I probably hear more people who express dislike the influence of academia, but I'm never sure if that is because more feel that way or they are just more vocal.

The amount of interest sparked by performance or slam poetry by young people today I think contributes to an augmentative counter academia presence in the poetry culture. This seems to place a lesser emphasis on the literary aspect of poetry and make it more about story telling or rhetorical skills.

There seems to be a feeling by some that the influence of academia is tantamount to the creation of cookie-cutter educational programs that simply reproduce more and more writers that write like the poet next to them.

I myself do not come from an literary academia background, however I am perhaps more drawn to the poetry that would most often be associated with academia. I find that my own personal tastes are generally more satisfied by the literary side of poetry then the theatrical or performance.

There are people, many talented ones that can stand an talk extemporaneously at an open mic and can be both impressive and entertaining in their oratory skills. But it still bothers me that what they have just done cannot be recalled by them the next day. And further, while it may sound forceful as a message, I liken it to someone who comes to an open mic and says, what I am about to read, I wrote earlier today. It is a rare person who can write something that well without revisions. And not only is it a rare person, they usually can't do it with consistency. I guess I would fall into the 48% that are satisfied or would even like more academic influence on the art of poetry.

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