I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to write about 4 main areas of poetry. Before I get started, I need to lay the ground rules for this little project. First, these four areas are by no means the the only divisions in the poetry world, and they are not formed in marble. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the poetry out there. This is intended to be a launching point for a study in the various forms poetry can take–as well as the various ways it can be perceived. Not only might this spark some conversation, but it will be a good comparison between various poets, styles, and perceptive joy. There seems to be a lot of blogs lately on the joy of writing, reading, and discussing (sorry, not so much math). So that may play in to my posts as well.
The premise of this entire project is the investigation of 4 areas of poetry: Post-Avant/Language, Hybrid, Beats, and Mainstream.
Let’s start with Mainstream poetry. I don’t think I have to be too academic about this one. In the sense of the word “mainstream,” poetry is just like music, news media, fiction, and coffee: it’s what people are buying. I bet you could walk into any corporate bookstore (Borders, B&N, urrrr, are there any others?) and find a poetry book by Ted Kooser or Billy Collins. In fact, go over to Amazon.com and you will see that two of their top 12 poetry books are by Dr. Seuss!!
The Ivory Tower of Poetry (iToP for short, ie the post-avant academics) chastise the likes of Collins and Kooser for writing such quiet, boring, easy poetry. The truth of the matter is, the majority of Mainstream poetry is easier to understand than something from another line of thought, but it says something because people are buying it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think Collins and Kooser are fantastic poets to teach basic poetry ideas to people who have know idea about, and even a hatred towards poetry in general. Oh yeah, both Kooser and Collins have been US poet laureates. I know the likes of Ron Silliman have disdain towards such “simpletons,” But people must be buying it for a reason: it brings them some sort of pleasure–maybe not the intellectual high that iToP gets from language, but at least something.
Is there anything else to “Mainstream” besides accessibility and sales? Not that I can think of right now. I will post my thoughts on Tony Hoaglands Hard Rain chapbook published in 2005. Hoagland is also considered mainstream, and I’ll explain why when I review the book!
Part 2 is posted here.