Monday, October 06, 2003

A Penn State instructor and poet at the Sunday get-together at Zeno's related a bizarre argument going on in the Penn State English faculty about whether or not Slam counts as "poetry", based on the peculiar notion that poetry once spoken loses its privileged status as such. She said that when she argued against this, her fellow poet-instructor dismissed her to her face as a "niche poet". I asked her what his name was; upon being so informed, I instructed her to tell this bag of suet that I had never heard of him, so clearly he also must be a "niche poet".

My point here, I suppose, is that there are, at best, four living poets which a reasonably well-educated American is likely to have heard of; unless you're a poet laureate, the flavor-of-the-year, or a lunatic anti-Semitic troublemaker, nobody is ever going to hear of you. This is not the Regency, when poets strode the earth like mighty heroes of verse, claymore in hand and laudanum in their veins, bound to conquer or die. Modern-day poets write for themselves; if they're lucky, they might find a handful of fellow-poets to listen, while waiting for their turn at the microphone.

The Zeno Sundays continue to be bull sessions rather than performances. I don't mind, myself - they're good bull sessions. We had a rollicking discussion of local religious affairs and real estate gossip. But I suppose some actual poetry might not be out of order, one of these days. I did get a couple pieces written out while I was at the table. I'll try to get one of them hammered into shape for later today.

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