I am finding that poetry is more and more the opposite of what I think it should be. One of my definitions of poetry would be that it is a place to expand our minds.
Instead, so many poets work so hard to make "poetry" an exclusive place that is so hard to get into. The Language Poets hate the St. Marks Poets. The Iowa Poets hate everyone. So many people want to lay claim to the word experiemental, but that word really has no meaning anymore. What is "experimental?" Is it Stein, Fanny Howe, Clark Coolridge, Jorie Graham, Norma Cole? One could give a concrete argument for why each of these poets would or wouldn't be called experimental. In his time. Eliot was certainly experimental....and what's so great about that tiny word anyway? Robert Hass, Stanley Kunitz, Anna Ahkmatova, and Denise Levertov are/were all great poets too, and they're not the "e" word.
There was a uncomfortable moment in my workshop last week when a guy I really like suggested that I read Simic. He looked at another guy waiting for the critical ax to fall. Then, he second guessed himself saying that he knows it's not cool to like Simic. That is the rub. Many people have divided poetry into what's cool and what's not. There's an agreed upon system that everyone must adhere. But this is so sophmoric. The great poets (like Ginsberg) read everything. Some poets (like Everson) never read poetry at all. His library was full of non-fiction. Also, I was saddened because a poetry blog I like to read was made private. What is that all about? I thought people wanted readers. Or perhaps the reasoning is like the "I'm not a plastic bag" bag. If you make yourself into a hot item, people will wait in line for you.
I wish, for one week, everyone would go read the opposite poet of whom they normally read. I think the world would be a better place.