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The State of American Poetry“As a writer reading, I came to realize the obvious: the subject of the dream is the dreamer.” —Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination Sit in any poetry workshop in any Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program, except perhaps Chicago State University (which has a ninety-nine percent African-American enrollment) and at least once a semester, your professor eventually will shout Ezra Pound’s Modernist exhortation of “make it new!” For all these programs’ defense of their “diverse” enrollment, and for all the “racial inclusiveness” of today’s journals, anthologies, and prize recipients, one glaring issue remains: What does it matter if the faces of contemporary American poets are different colors if ultimately the writers of the “best” poetry in American literature—the Modernists—are all white and overwhelmingly male? If a poet cannot make her literary god in a subjective image, how can someone who isn’t white or male pray at a poetry altar of her own making? The answer is: she can’t.