Recently the arts/news site Buzzfeed published three poems by Nick Flynn.
What’s noteworthy about the poems isn’t their utter mediocrity—I receive better submissions nearly every day for the New Pop Lit website (www.newpoplit.com)— but the way their author has been rewarded for his modest talent by the literary establishment. Simply scroll down from the poems to Nick Flynn’s biographical information. Read the list of plaudits and prizes.
This tells me the world of establishment poetry is in bad shape. Little is risked by approved poets—and little is achieved.
Why do I care? Not just because I co-edit a literary site, but also because I love to recite poetry. Today there’s little worth reciting.
I can’t help thinking that poetry has been trapped of late on two poles. One is hip-hop based street poetry dependent on sing-song rhythmn and rhyming. It’s made to be read aloud. More, to be performed in front of the audience. The style has become predictable and is seldom artistically challenging.
The other pole is academic poetry. I can’t claim to understand the thinking behind it—I just know it reads like bad prose, looks bland on the page and puts audiences who dare listen to it read aloud to sleep. Contemporary academic poetry is sure proof of how institutionalizing an art form kills it.
The above thoughts are the reason for this post at New Pop Lit.
We’re looking for visually and aurally striking poetry which stands between the poles. A splash of color combined with a sense of music. The equivalent of a punchy pop song or a fun pop painting-- with a large dollop of wit and intelligence thrown into the mix.
Can anyone write that?