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Read More Poetry Rant #18

12.19.2015

It’s a confounding trend in literary fiction these days that many folks—and I’m including some editors of lit websites and publications—are trying to separate themselves from poetry, the better to lean towards pop fiction. Essentially, they are isolating themselves from those that want to fight the same fight. Firstly, it’s delusional, because the literary fiction ship is going down at almost the same rapid rate as poetry. And secondly, it’s counterproductive, since the two forms are closer to each other than they are to any others. It reminds me of the Robinson Jeffers’ quote (from 1938) about poetry living “in terror of prose, and desperately trying to save its soul from the victor by giving up its body”. 75 years later, it’s prose living in terror of pop.

One editor of a literary review website recently told me: “Poetry can be a tough sell”. I hope no one told him poetry was going to be a big seller when he first got in the game (by the way, you can’t call yourself a literary publication and have no poetry). As most of us know, poetry has never been an expedient of capital accrual. It has, however, always been of great value to those of us willing to give in to its charms. Here’s my view of one of its best practitioners. Via Coldfront, a mag that cares.

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