October 9, 2008

The Strangler

John Ashberry, in an interview with Guernica magazine says:

Kenneth Koch’s poem "Fresh Air" is actually a kind of manifesto we all subscribed to. It talks about a Poetry Society where academic poetry is formulated that is disrupted by a kind of Batman-like figure called the Strangler, the enemy of bad poetry. I suggest you might take a look at it. One line in particular—someone gets up at the Poetry Society to read a poem that begins, "This Connecticut landscape would have pleased Vermeer," and the Strangler immediately strikes that line down.
I fear a lot of my poetry would have suffered a gruesome death at the hands of the The Strangler but given the amount of cr*p I see that gets published, especially online, as poetry, I wish there was a real Strangler to take care of bad poetry like this.

Also, at my cynical best, I too would agree with his opinion about political poetry preaching to the choir and not being too useful but like he says, poetry and words can goad you into awareness and other kinds of action...

My feeling is that most political poetry is preaching to the choir, and that the people who are going to make the political changes in our lives are not the people who read poetry, unfortunately. Poetry not specifically aimed at political revolution, though, is beneficial in moving people toward that kind of action, as well as other kinds of action. A good poem makes me want to be active on as many fronts as possible.
... in addition to the obvious beauty of words being a "renovating virtue."

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