Opinion ~ Is buying poetry a fad?

Today I am beginning this column not with my personal opinion on the topic, but with the conclusion of our recently run survey, which was quite a firm “No”. No, buying poetry is not a fad, but due to various reasons, with each day it turns into a decision that is harder and harder to take.

When we started this survey we wanted to see how people generally felt about the valences of poetry, both from the material point of view and from the spiritual one.  We all know that, while in the case of the classic authors, universally rated as masters, it is rather easy to put the label “valuable” on their works, in the case of the newly emerging poets it is becoming more and more difficult to discern the quality of all the books (including here the e-books) that are (self-)published and available to be bought nowadays, especially because of their ever increasing number.

Some people say that they don’t buy poetry because of financial reasons, others because it’s easy to just read online for free whatever and whenever they want, others because most of what is usually published is of a much too low quality. And each of the mentioned reasons, as well as others, may be properly justified as a cause for not buying poetry books.

Whatever the reasons though, we should all remember that poets publish hoping to be read, hoping that their words will reach the souls of other people. And yes, it’s a tough job to find out which poet’s creation is worthy to be read and which one’s isn’t. But without reading it in the first place, you cannot judge it.


photo credits- Google images


One thought on “Opinion ~ Is buying poetry a fad?

  1. Poetry has always been a niche market, with occasional exceptions. And one makes it to the top of the pyramid you describe, sometimes poetry does sell. when Phillip Levine was named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2011, sales of his books “soared” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/11/philip-levine-books_n_924819.html). However, large sales of any poet’s books are very unusual.

    Poet Marjorie Perloff has a very interesting article about poetry in today’s society, from the perspective of a poetry workshop held for high school students at the White House in 2011 (http://www.pnreview.co.uk/cgi-bin/scribe?item_id=8438).

    I think what is important it that, if you like poetry, read it and share it with others who like it. As Frank O’Hara suggests in the quote at the beginning of Perloff’s essay, it’s not worth it to force poetry on those who don’t get it or like it. Remember Modernist poet Marianne Moore’s opening lines of her poem, “Poetry”:

    I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all
    this fiddle.

    And, remember her conclusion:

    In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
    the raw material of poetry in
    all its rawness and
    that which is on the other hand
    genuine, you are interested in poetry.

    So, if you are interested in poetry, support it!

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