Objections to Poetry’s ‘Gatekeepers’ (the Atlantic)

Poetry Isn’t as Useless as a Lot of Folks Say It Is

…. “That’s because folks like Alexander have worked to create a myth of an essential poetry, poetry that is important because of what it is, rather than because of what it says.

It’s long past time, therefore, that we stopped asking “What Use Is Poetry?” and started asking, “What Use Is This Poem?” In some cases, maybe, we’ll find uses we didn’t know existed.” ….

(2013) < [ [ [
Poetry Isn’t as Useless as a Lot of Poets Say It Is
A recent speech at Yale inadvertently sums up what’s wrong with the art form these days: Its gatekeepers believe poetry matters because it’s poetry, not because of what it says.
] ] ] >

Saw someone had accessed a forgotten posting of this article on this blog from 2013 in my stats. Glad to be reminded… I had recently written a piece that said something different (as yet untyped up) but still had a bone to pick with the ‘gatekeepers’ as a whole. I am not sure the intuition is as correct as I thought at the time. It had to do with the lack of abstraction I felt the journals I had looked at seemed to display – as though clinging to the concrete was the only way to give poetry legitimacy. POETRY Magazine is the only one I get in the mail, and I haven’t had $s to get others, but I’ve looked at some websites. On later rechecking, it seems less so, although certainly there is less usage of extremely powerful abstract vocabulary from the maths/logics/sciences than I sometimes use. Alternate problems (particularly the slice of twitter in my feed) — excess of relationship/love/erotic poems – excess to a lesser degree of nature poems. Interesting maybe for the first 200 tweets/posts. after that bleck. Noor Shirazie (also on Twitter) is a notable exception – I read through several hundred of her poems a few years ago; always about relationships broken or current, but always something interesting to say. Even so, I find myself tiring of it since I’ve started following her on Twitter. Also, why constrain yourself to one subject??!

[[instant edit: I also objected to the over representation of things with clear determinate interpretations. That may have been the nut. ‘Abstract Poetry’ as in ‘Non-representational art’ … certainly does not seem entirely so in the last two issues of POETRY. Certainly, still, word choice and subject matter Set-Space parameters are very different from some of what I consider my best work]]

Triple Sevens

Triple sevens three times one morning
Lasiks correction, paranoid schizophreia
Oft times we see phantoms
Serial hexes of the unquiet mind
Messages from God made material, reading
Seeing too much in things, symbolic consciousness
Symbolic, apropos of nothing
Ringing ears suggesting eternal life

Plotless Abstractions

Hexes in space, grid forms dimensional

Cross quarter silence changing to knight’s gambit

Visual textual dialectic constructing castles

I reside with the moon above

Chanting the secret names of the underneath

Walking in quietude with the sages


New blog name and new About page. Also new post on Spindle Thread Weave Stitch Trim later which has also been slightly renamed Poison

Psychotomimetic Counterpoise


A counterbalancing weight

An equally opposing force

Newton’s third law

The Psychosis opposes

The Psychosis Balances

The Psychosis at odds with the world

Or the balancer of the psychotomimetic force?

The balance of the world’s symbolic consciousness

Tipping right into senseless automatism

Tipping left into mania

As the man on wire we walk


As the dancer balanced on Wall Street’s bull

Poised amidst the onrushing riot

Chaoticians study this most mysterious force

Entropy wrapped in chaos

Mirrorlike reflecting your epithets

As in the grade school couplet



Ring! they ricochet

Silvered spheres

Pinball Psychosis

The voice intones



Psychotomimetic counterpoise

The only way to pull through

The Great Conspiracy

Inverted through the keyhole

Rests now in my palm



These interesting phrases appear in my head demanding to be used… what to do what to do.  Well I gave that one a shot.  Share and enjoy!