Reminded of why contemporary poetry is read so little

This being National Poetry Month, I visited and subscribed to their Poem-a-day email. They send out a wide range of poetry – everything from the 1700 up to the very present day. So I’ve read a poem each day.

Most of the poetry was contemporary, in a variety of styles. Pretty much every poet was a college professor who makes a living by teaching poetry. And pretty much all of the poems were – in my opinion – deliberately written to be obscure, inaccessible, even meaningless to ordinary people.

Just like the poetry written and published 40-50 years ago by the professors I studied with back then.

I think I understand why the “professor poets” were so jealous and angry when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for poetry. Dylan’s poetry is for ordinary people.

The High Academics of Poetryland, dwelling at the peaks of their isolated towers, don’t want the lowly peons from below to have poetry. They write poetry for each other, the few people worthy of their exalted, refined, infinitely unpoetic poetry.

Therefore they’ve set out to strangle or stomp out any poetry that springs up outside their towers.

Bah. Poetry that requires page after academic page of exigesis to communicate its meaning to a reader – is dead.

So – advice to poets. Read even dead poetry. But WRITE LIVING POETRY!


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