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The Underlying Problem With Poetry Today


PUBLISHED: July 25, 2012

Guy Gonzalez

In our Spring 2012 issue, Willard Spiegelman contributed an essay, “Has Poetry Changed? The View From the Editor’s Desk”, which discusses how poetry has changed over the years. Poet Guy Gonzalez (who works in publishing by day), has written a thoughtful response. Here’s a little bit of what he says:

While formal poetry has never been my cup of tea, the vast majority of poetry — formal and free verse, written and oral — actually bores me to tears for the exact reasons Spiegelman notes. … In a world where a silly photo-sharing app that makes pictures look old is deemed worth $1B, surely there’s a $1M angle for poetry that speaks to a broader audience without dumbing it down or sacrificing metaphor for mediocrity?

Read his complete post in response to Spiegelman: “The Unbearable Stiffness of Formal Poetry and Writing for the Page.”

4 Comments

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william childress's picture
“Unbearable stiffness” indicates that Guy Gonzalez is a youngster. They all require speed, and right now. They also want to skip the basic training–which our entire nation is in need of, but which the past two generations have eschewed. A large part of formal poetry, as well as its art, is mastery of the forms–much as one starts firearm training as a tyro, but advances IN TIME to master status. Free verse, as Robert Frost so accurately said, is playing tennis with the net down. No restraints. Journalism masquerading as poetry–but the two used to be different fields. The onward rush of “progress” and consequent dumbing down of society is a major part of the problem, but we’re stuck with it. Has anyone ever stopped to think how many jobs have been lost that used to be essential? Telephone operators, car assemblers, farm jobs, countless others. Read the history of the sabots. They reacted, they lost. Progress is usually most progressive for the rich and the powerful corporations. Speed kills. In all likelihood, we are witnessing the slow, lingering death of poetry in general. Too manythings have replaced it–and reading as well. (Contributor is age 80.)
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Guy LeCharles Gonzalez's picture
Hey there, Mr. Childress! I apologize for not seeing your comment sooner, but was glad to see your response to Spiegelman’s essay posted today, and I left a comment there. I actually think we agree on more than you’d think. :-)
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william childress's picture
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez…what a fabulous “literary” name. You must now push on and bring great credit to it. I enjoyed your essay and subsequent letters. One of the firsrt things I said to Jane was that I was glad people of youth and energy were commenting. We also have something in common–we were both paratroopers, and both at Fort Campbell KY–fifty years apart. Airborne all the way! William “Chilly” Childress Folsom CA (near the prison)
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Surazeus Simon Seamount's picture
I started writing free verse in the 1980s in college, but the I found that more formal verse better molds the intense flow of inspiration into a clear vision. I don’t constrain the verse with absolute unbreakable rules but some constraints keep the concepts from spilling out all over the page.
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