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I remember when I was a young academic and I thought it would be good to talk about William Carlos Williams at the MLA at some point, but ev...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Defense Against Mediocrity

The aphorism I formulated many years ago--"If poetry is a defense against mediocrity, then what good is mediocre poetry?"--is something that I could not defend now in the same terms.  It's a gut feeling more than anything. I remember living in a town without good Chinese restaurants and being told "oh, you don't like Chinese food."  Well, no, I like Chinese food but those places weren't serving it.

So the feeling that motivated the aphorism is still there, but it doesn't sound right. What I mean is that only poetry that fulfills the function of poetry, to excite the imagination and expand the intelligence, counts as poetry. That the other stuff detracts from this mission. It is a kind of place-holder, keeping the institution *poetry* alive until something better come along.

Who's to decide, though, what poetry does this? I think I have to make my own decisions, which are not going to be yours.

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