Leverage

What is studied these days?

Given that senseless dichotomy, the false imperative to publish or perish (cause of death: lack of publication credits), ceaseless pandering in writing programs, catering to the lowest common denominator (frequently referred to as “accessibility”)…

What contribution? Either these poets operate under the impression that they are managing to offer something worthwhile—or they’ve never even bothered to ask.

Back to W. H. Auden, the poem first off bringing “…honor to the language in which it is written.” And that “…whatever else it may be, a poem is a verbal artifact which must be as skillfully and solidly constructed as a table or a motor-bicycle.”

For the poet, what responsibility?

In simplest terms, as Allen Tate reminds us, “…to be a poet, to write poems, and not to gad about using the rumor of his verse…as the excuse to appear on platforms and to view with alarm.”

Fair warning, transatlantic, from Robert Graves: “It is easy to take up a pen at random and plead ‘I’m just keeping my hand in.’ But nine-tenths of what passes in English poetry is the product of either careerism, or keeping one’s hand in: a choice between vulgarity and banality.”

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