Monday, December 14, 2009

Contemporary Poetry as Fan Culture?

I’m not much for superheroes, but I find this bit from Stephen Burt’s "Poems about Superheroes," from the Fall issue of Michigan Quarterly Review that will be up on Tuesday on Poetry Daily’s news page interesting:

We read comics when we are ten, or twelve, or sixteen, and discover that our peers, at some point, expect us to set them aside; we write poetry, for ourselves and for our friends and for our classmates and teachers in poetry workshops, through college—and then we discover that the adult world has much less room for it. Contemporary poetry, in other words, looks now (it never looked quite this way to Jarrell, nor to Bowers) like a subculture, or a fan culture, pursued in adult life by devoted amateurs and struggling professionals who know that most people, most serious readers (of literary novels) find little time and less use for it in their adult lives."

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I went to a Sci-fi convention once, and, come to think of it, it did remind me a little of AWP. Hmm. Maybe Burt's got something?

3 Comments:

At 12/14/2009 10:13 AM, Blogger Steven D. Schroeder said...

I've long compared poetry to other rabid subcultures I've been part of. It's an apt classification, I think.

 
At 12/14/2009 10:22 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I think it's a lot like trainspotting.

 
At 12/15/2009 8:47 AM, Blogger Jason Bradford said...

I'm currently completing an independent study on graphic novels. Poetry has a lot more common respect, if you will, than the comic tradition. The fact that you can more readily study poetry without much disdain or confusion, and not comics, is proof of that. Maybe I’ve been spoiled, though.

If Burt means poetry/comics artists' ability to have a 'rockstar' status vs. prose artists' ability, then yes, I can see a correlation. Although, and I may be missing the point here, I don't think profit margins mean respect, or even quality, just popularity. Example: Twilight.

I think he is focusing on poetry vs. comics, and I've never experienced a shunning of poetry, like comics have. Maybe I just haven't reached the age where I'm expected to set poetry aside, but I'm not convinced the situations are the same.

I’ve never received that cliché look of ‘you’re weird’ from mentioning my interest in writing poetry the rest of my life. I did, however, receive a few ‘huh’s’ when I mentioned my independent study on graphic novels.

 

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