Holy cow! We're almost as popular as jazz? That's exciting.... Interesting to read the survey: the only reliable evidence for poetry's ballyhooed death that I've seen. Still, as with all surveys, it's important to see exactly what they're measuring. What's declining in a straight line is the number of people who answer "yes" to the question, "did you read any poetry last year?" What it suggests to me is that the number of people who read poetry *as a duty* is dropping. That is, there's a dwindling number of Americans who feel that they can't count themselves as educated unless they read a bit of poetry. It is an indicator of what's happening to poetry-reading generally, but only a vague one. I suspect that if you were measuring the number of people who would answer "yes" to "do you ordinarily read poetry in the course of week"? you'd see a quite different graph.In the meantime, my carapace hardens, and my back curves: my delicate feelers grow ever longer and more gracefully from their pediments. As my powers of hearing and sight dwindle, my other senses become more acute: I have never been better at telling which ants are from friendly hills, and which from hostile ones. And I seem to be ramifying: as I listen to music, in the evenings, I can feel my spirit branching and dividing, opening new channels, budding into new leaf. I am subsiding, apparently, backwards, into the kingdoms from which we came. I'm content, and more than content. The moon rises enormous, fifty minutes later every night, and I can hear its breathing, which is something that ordinarily only mosses and lichens can do. These dispensations are not, of course, for my benefit. I'll be called for something.
What I really like about the poetry-reading world, as I know it, is that there is almost no one in it for the wrong reasons. People read poetry nowadays, not because there's any cachet to it, but simply because they like it. And that is probably very good for poetry, however bad it may be for poetry sales.
Saturday, May 02, 2015
Over on Facebook, in response to a post of Marly Youmans re a Washington Post article re the extinction of poetry citing the census bureau's Survey of Public Participation in the Arts: