In Every Generation: A Response to Mark Edmundson

Boston Review LogoComplaints against contemporary poetry arise, like vampire slayers, in every generation, and it’s easy to see why: when you compare your very favorite famous artists from the past with almost any quick or large or secondhand selection of contemporary work, the past will look better.  That’s called selection bias, and it can be remedied not by better close reading, but by elementary training in statistics. As for the claim that our poets are in thrall to the academy, by comparison to the poets of the past, that’s less true than it was in 1980, because we have more small presses and Bohemian communities of serious poets who don’t care what their teachers think: I mean not only the performance (or “slam”) poetry communities, but the people who publish chapbooks in deepest Brooklyn, who might be teaching writing at art schools today, and who get adopted by the academy, if at all, rather tenuously, and at later stages of their (cough) careers.

Read the whole thing at Boston Review.

1 Comment

  1. Winning a poetry slam requires some measure of skill and a huge dose of luck. The judges’ tastes, the audience’s reactions, and the poets’ performances all shape a slam event, and what wins one week might not get a poet into the second round the next week. There’s no formula for winning a slam, although you become a stronger poet and performer the same way you get to Carnegie Hall — practice, practice, practice.


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