David Alpaugh's article "The New Math of Poetry" states that too many poetry books are being published, the Best American Poetry series is a form of domestic terrorism, and the ozone layer is messed up as a result of a book called Sanctified: An Anthology of LGBT Christians. The article appears in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Here's the link: David Alpaugh's article.
What follows are some of my random thoughts on the piece:
It is dangerous to have too many poetry books out there because then libraries won't be able to store them and they'll have no choice but to put huge stacks of them outside where the garbage men will mistake them for trash and our literary culture will wind up being incinerated on a Thursday afternoon.
It is dangerous to have too many poetry books out there because not creating is better than creating unless it has to do with pharmaceuticals.
Anthologies that circle around a group of people or for that matter any theme are fatal especially the idea of having one that focuses around Gay and Lesbian Christians, because that means that the gay men who actually like to get laid will want to create an anthology of their own and no one will know who the well-adjusted gay men are from the ones who aren't and that means the entire queer movement will dissipate right before our eyes and we won't have the rights we already have like calling ourselves married even though we don't have a contract and ring. That's the wonderful thing about Constitutional Rights. There is free speech and you can say whatever lies you want. Unless you're in school and then you have to say "I agree to disagree" when you really are going to say something much more complicated like "you can disagree with me but I'll make you pay for it later, asshole."
Why shouldn't editors publish their friends? Who else are they going to publish? Their enemies?
The Best American Poetry anthologies are killing us. It is impossible to see the word "best" as a fun way of trying to see what's out there in the poetry world from one famous author's point-of-view, and we all know that more than one point-of-view can lead to things like never passing a health care bill.
Story Line Press publishes mostly men who write about missing their dead fathers who worked a hard job and made sacrifices so their sons could write bad poetry. And if that wasn't enough, they can also rhyme! Good things that the University of Chicago press has taken control of the situation. Now the men are gay men. They can still rhyme. And can do those hets one better. This is the new formula on how to create a brilliant poetic work:
Rhyme + anal sex reference = Good Review
Rhyme + Ovid + two anal sex references = Best Poetry Book of the Year
As an MFA student, whenever someone wrote a poem that was longer than a page, someone would say, "I think you've got two poems here." And everyone would nod and say yes you've got two poems here and they look all happy as if we all got something for fucking free.
I personally like any article about literary stuff that's called The New Math of Poetry because it confirmed that all my advanced degrees in creative writing really matter. Math is a real subject, and putting that word one word away from the work poetry give us all legitimacy.
Poetry degrees need legitimacy. I took out $90,000.00 in student loans and I had published nine poems by the time I graduated. That means each poem cost $10,000.
That's what I like to call the New Math. And I have no regrets.
A mid-December update
4 days ago