Monday, November 9, 2009

Popularity or unpopularity

I have never heard or read any statement regarding poetry’s popularity or unpopularity in the United States that wasn’t backed up by anything more than subjective, anecdotal evidence. I have never heard or read any claim for poetry being more popular in one era or period that was backed up by any concrete evidence, any statistical study, any kind of reporting or research. And that’s not even taking into account thinking through the real differences in historical periods regarding population scale, technological developments with specific regards to media, educational approaches to teaching poetry, availability of the means of publication, and attention to every conceivable community of people that might be reading and producing the work, among other factors. I see absolutely no reason to believe any statement that anyone makes regarding poetry being more popular “then” as opposed to “now”, and I simply do not believe that anyone is currently capable of quantitatively assessing the degree to which poetry is or ever has been read and written in the United States.  -- Anselm Berrigan

[But see also this.]


Stephen said...
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J.H. Stotts said...

something infinitely available and endlessly avoided.

straw man of steel.

my little boy (17 mths) can't even speak and he already knows 'the owl and the pussycat' by heart, but he hasn't been polled by any foundations yet, so i don't pretend to know what his early poetry experiences mean or predict.


Kent Johnson said...

Thing is, Anselm, in poetry *everything* is "anecdotal."