It seems almost fashionable these days for various poetry spokespeople to assert – without question – quote – THE POETRY WARS ARE OVER – end quote.
That everything is just hunky dory, lion-and-lamb-wise, in the Happy Land of Really Nice Bards.
That the wild poets have come in from the wilderness, set aside their war-like ways, and got jobs in the Creative Writing Department.
That everyone agrees the only problem facing Poetry today is equitable distribution of Art Booty.
That we all agree poetry is just another commodity, something to be bought and sold and traded for jobs, grants, prizes, prestige, and power (such as it is in the Happy Land of Nice Bards).
That poetry is a career choice, a useful pathway into a productive life of remunerative professorships, arts management jobs, and government largesse.
That we are all fellow citizens in the Institution, now mellowed out in the shared recognition of the Equality of Styles.
That differences of poetry are nothing more than differences of taste – and all tastes, it turns out, are equal in a world of markets and general equivalence – it’s just a question of what sells.
We call bullshit on that.
Poetry is and always will be an unruly opening of profound modes of oppositional thought, a constant reset of “knowledge” and its categories, a site of revelation for unprecedented form and exorbitant meaning.
As such, it calls out for – demands – constant challenge to the cyclical, careerist sprawl which replaces Poetry with curated dreck, whether it’s the Creative Writing so dear to the heart and bank account of the University or the neo-avant-garde’s commodified word dumps exchangeable for a niche in the wall of the Great Hall of Literature.
If ever a time called out for poetry war, for the liberation of autonomous zones for poetry’s impolite dissent, and for the wanton instigation of untoward festivities in the face of Poetic Security Walls (see Dispatch #6), the time is now.
Join the party. Dispatches from The Poetry Wars welcomes collaborators who are uninterested in poetry as a career, whose urgency of appeal on behalf of poetry does not want for a little wackiness, and who can figure out the difference between Lenny Bruce and Henny Youngman. All interesting forms of resistance welcome.
Be warned, however, – we are not polite.