There was a wonderful article and review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review about poetry and a new book by poet Robert Pinsky.
The book Singing School: learning to write (and read) poetry by studying with the masters sounds like an easy going guide to poetry intended for adult, nonacademic readers. The book is so anti-academic according to the reviewer, that one can’t help but wonder what the university where Pinsky works must think of it. I am so intrigued that I have requested the book from the library. I am fourth in line for it so I’ll probably get my turn sometime in the middle or end of December. If it turns out to be as good as the review of it makes it out to be, I will have to buy a copy of my own.
The article mentions something about poetry that irks me to no end. That is the idea that some poets and poetry critics hold that poetry should be difficult and belong only to the initiated. To call a poet “accessible” is an insult. Billy Collins is lumped into this category which means, easy and not serious. But for all the regular, common readers who love Billy Collins, myself included, we don’t care. We love him for his humor and “accessibility.” I have to wonder if poets and critics who look down their noses at Collins and others like him (I’ve heard Mary Oliver so accused too as though it is a crime to be readable by someone outside the clique) are not really jealous because Collins has a larger readership. They must justify their small audience by placing themselves in the starry aether where the air is so much more refined and selective. Gag.
And here is Pinsky with his new book saying you don’t need a Ph.D and reams of notes covering every allusion and metaphor in “The Waste Land” in order to enjoy the poem and the experience of reading it. In fact, the untutored reader just might find things in the poem that the “expert” has overlooked. I must say I agree with Pinsky and I look forward to reading his book when my turn comes up.