Not a Manifesto
But I think I’m done pretending that I give a shit about contemporary poetry. Sturgeon’s Law wouldn’t begin to explain the situation were it not that the law also applies to theories and schools, and poetry is as beset by that noxious pair of hydras as any human activity—more than most since there’s no market for poetry. A grant-and-university-supported art is an art with no consequence, and if even those institutions fail the young poet, the Internet makes it so easy to find a thousand like-minded fools that each can believe himself or herself in the vanguard of a movement.
Of course there are living poets, many younger than I, whose work I admire, and I’ll be glad to name a few of them: A. E. Stallings, Tony Barnstone, Jill Alexander Essbaum, R. S. Gwynn, Catherine Tufariello, Dick Davis, Annie Finch, Marilyn Nelson, Kim Addonizio—I’ll stop before anyone thinks I’m trying to be exhaustive. These are just the ones who occurred to me waiting for dinner to served at the banquet for English-learners in the St Mary’s County schools. And I’m hungry.
And here’s what I hunger for in poems: the sound of a human voice or of human voices, speaking to at least one other human, to a reader at least, expecting to be understood, or at least expecting some human response; speech that exists in at least the penumbra of a story, of human action; speech made memorable by craft, by the rhythmic organization of stress and repeated sounds.
I hunger for slam poets and sonneteers.