It’s National Poetry Month! That means that bookstores, publishers and bloggers all over the U.S. and elsewhere are celebrating poetry in all its forms. There’s a poem-a-day series that will email you one poem each day for the entire month. Poets.org has instructions for teachers trying to motivate students to enjoy poetry in the classroom and tips for bookstores trying to sell poetry.
The video is from W. W. Norton publishers who decided to ask eleven of their published poets what poetry is for. Their answers are incredibly bad, but it’s a good try. It should be abundantly clear from these poets’ answers that there is very little actual thought going on about what poetry is for.
Here’s my answer: Poetry is for bread.
But here’s a guy named Charles Bernstein who says that National Poetry Month is a bad thing. He says it encourages the most bland of easy-reading poetry available to make people think poetry is safe to read. He’s right. And so what? So people read some bland crappy poems. That is what most poetry is. That’s realistic. Perhaps a few of those people will have the energy to go out and find the real, hard, evolving, beautiful and terrifying poetry that would never even stoop to asking, ‘What is poetry for?’