And I do love the intimacy of reading a poem--any poem--and feeling like the poet of the poem--not just the speaker of the poem--is sitting down with me at my kitchen table, having a cup of coffee with me when suddenly, the poet--much to my surprise and delight-- positively bursts into what can only be described as secular public prayer. A literary aria.
It's compelling, for sure. A private "theatre of the mind," for sure. And a spurious connection, for sure. And--oh-- it feels so real, so comforting.
I am saying there is a place for that "Ear-Against-the-Door...Yes, Reader-I'm-Talking-to-You" kind of poetry. And that it can be a glorious experience. And it can be the stuff of great poetry.
But--and let's be honest now, ok?---let's not have any hurt feelings or whining about this, ok?--haven't we just about had enough of the particular kind of poetry which is the product of what I have termed --and I'm being nice with this--"literary hemophiliacs"?
Isn't anyone else kind of tired of the poets who bleed onto the page with endless interior monologues and intimate details and wicked stories that make you cringe? The "Poor-Me-Little-Match-Book-Girl--No-One-Has-(Or-For-That-Matter-Ever-Will)-Suffer-Like-Me" kind of poetry. Which would be considered, in almost any other venue--well let's just come right out and say it, shall we?--uninteresting. Except for its tabloid gossip quality, that is.
It would appear the "Shock-Jock" poetry of our times replaced a former age's excess of poetic sentimentality.
Look, all I'm saying is that there is a line that no one seems to want to draw--poet, reader or publisher. As far as I can tell, the line between genuinely intimate poetry and "look-at-me! look-at-me!" narcissistic poetry doesn't get discussed.
In fact, in professional criticism of contemporary poetry, that there may be a line at all is rarely--if ever--discussed.
The poetry workshop taught us that "telling us everything there is to tell" does not automatically qualify a piece of writing as "a poem." That the best confessional poets did edit. And they knew what not to say as well as what to say.
I have not read discussions which explore the kind of Come Hither poetry, the sole purpose of which is literary exhibitionism.
Perhaps poetry for the 21st century should come out of--come back to--the imagination.
Perhaps we should move on and--as Ezra Pound once told us--try something new.