Not to be a cynic myself, but I'd actually welcome a strike by contemporary poets. Go for it, everyone! Give me a year or two, or a decade, to catch up on what's out there already. It's not as though I'm in danger of running out of poetry to read. Besides, what's to stop me from outsourcing poetic production to Ireland, India, and elsewhere? (Paging Frank O'Hara: what are the poets in Ghana up to these days?)
In a revealing textual echo, Josh writes:
I have a fantasy of the stable of "name" poets at, say, Knopf or FSG banding together and demanding a more open review and publication policy. But is that just more feudalism? Noblesse oblige?Yes, folks, Josh is feeling a bit like Linda Loman these days: Attention must be paid!
Poets manufacture poetry. Critics, editors, and academics manufacture attention. Which is the scarcer commodity?
Attention must be paid for.
God forbid, of course, that anyone should try to get readers to pay attention to poetry--say, by promoting it, trying to spur demand, maybe through...gee, I dunno...maybe a National Poetry Month. That would be crass, commercialistic, and probably encourage the wrong sort of people to read the wrong sort of poetry anyway.
I have plenty of sympathy for anyone stuck for paid work and healthcare in this ridiculous economy, but the particular plight of poets? Not so much.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to turn my attention back to one more poet who certainly rewards it (Norman Finkelstein) and then to a couple of books from the most despised genre in America, romance fiction. A genre which, by the way, has virtually no critics or academics manufacturing attention for it. Just good marketing, responsive editors, writers who aim to please, and readers, Josh. Remember them? Lots and lots of readers.