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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Cloistered Community

Poetry, in the United States, is beloved by a few and is shrouded by an aura of academia and distance. It is not part of the national conversation (Maya Angelou sells more cookbooks than poetry books, I'm certain); it is not covered often by the national media, and when it is, it is usually because of uncommon acts of political activism (Sharon Olds letter it Laura Bush in 2005) or internal arguments.

Take the recent New York Times coverage of resignations at the Poetry Society of America. The article opens tellingly:

The cloistered community of American poetry has, in recent months,
become a little less like Yeats’s Land of Faery, where nobody gets old and
bitter of tongue, and a little more like Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.”

What do you think moved poetry away from mainstream America? Will there ever be another Robert Frost?

Could this fate be coming for the playwrights of the US? Are we already there?


Art said...

Hey Matt,

Check out the latest from Joseph Epstein's in the New Criterion about how the literary Landscape has changed in the last 25 years.

He talks alot about poetry:

Contemporary poetry has an air of crushing intramurality. Poetry has become a schoolhouse affair, with poems being, as they say in the MFA programs, relentlessly “workshopped,” an empty word which means no more than discussed in a classroom setting. The only people who read contemporary poetry appear to be those who write it. .... Contemporary poetry begins to seem like a club to which one is lucky to escape membership.

There is more too:


Freeman said...

Art -

Thanks for that! Great post.

Anonymous said...

Was poetry ever in the mainstream of America? With the development of today's Niche Society is there any cultural form that has become more mainstream rather than less? Even Britney is only interesting to a certain demo' of folks. But on the bright side, I bet the audience ya do get for any given enterprise, though smaller, is likely to be more focused and supportive than in past eras. I'll take quality over quanity whenever possible.