25 January 2013

R.I.P.

Over at The Washington Post, Alexandra Petri asks 'Is poetry dead?'

She decides it is.

And she bases this on the fact that there is no new Waste Land or Howl. She doesn't seem to know a single poet around after the 50s.

She starts her article describing Richard Blanco's inaugural poem. Then she says that Richard Blanco's career is worth nothing:

He has overcome numerous obstacles, struggled against opposition both internal and external — in order to excel in poetry, a field that may very well be obsolete.

And she uses this phrase as a repeating line:

Or is this too harsh?

The article is online journalism at its worst. Unresearched, generalizing, and sensationalist. Petri doesn't even bother to back her argument with examples, instead she calls modern writers 'new agey'. Poetry 'cannot change anything' it 'lacks teeth'. She makes jokes about the 'five' people who care about poetry and how readings are only full of students looking for credit.

I'm not sure what 'new agey' poems she's reading. She doesn't cite a single poem for her premise. When she finally does quote poetry it is a mis-quote of William Carlos Williams.

Over at Coldfront, John Deming makes a balanced and wonderful argument against Petri's premise. He manages to not call Petri what she is, an ass with a national voice.

Or is that too harsh?


*UPDATE*
Petri responds to the response.
Also a response to the original article from the Poetry Foundation.