THREAT LEVEL: POETRY
EXCERPTS (selected by readers / in random order):
Poetry is dead by capitalism’s standards—it is not an obvious moneymaking venture, despite traceable employment and readings’ payoffs via the academy—and that emboldens some folks limited by capitalist blinders to herald poetry’s last breath. If Conceptual poets can sensationally spin this mythology and position themselves as the left arm of the avant-garde, then like the phoenix from ashes, they can symbolically claim to revive and make popular a supposedly dying art. But these mythologizers think through their wallets with an eye for mass attention as a measure of their own and poetry’s value.
In an increasingly dimmer Conceptual age, poetry is the punk that limns the dark.
Poetry is performative utterance. Poetry is kinesthetic language. It can startle in visceral ways and take the top of your head off in the process. . . . I can speak in the shape of a lilt. You can be the color of winter.
It is time to stop giving credence to competition and to poets who make spectacles that simply firm up the dominant order. Let’s look to poets who throw us off our game and make us think in unsafe ways, violations that enlarge us instead of parlor tricks of privilege that keep the disenfranchised invisible.
Poetry is as large as language. Just as language pushes its limits, poets can make connections where connections are frowned upon. We might engage with our intuition or emotion or even that mysterious and popularly denounced ‘spiritual’ part of ourselves. We can juxtapose the arbitrary with the arbitrary and invoke a maddening sense of the reality we’ve inherited. We can move from our depression or fleece a corrupt order with a vision of existence that incites responses varying from the call to question to the responsive insurrectionary. We can also highlight the beautiful-ugly among us that everyday language would insist is either one or the other.
The impossible is ours to plunder – and make the most of.
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AMY KING View All →
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.
Am up in the rafters, stomping feet, applauding, and bellowing as loudly as I can, your love for poetry.
Thank you, Donna!