I firmly believe that poetry serves a range of cultural functions and I tend to bristle when someone says otherwise. Enter Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry, and his following statement that I got in the mail yesterday along with information trying to convince me to subscribe to the magazine:
Let us remember…that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.
I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t appreciate the assumption that we all read poetry for “one reason.”
The Poetry Foundation, which received a $200 million gift from the late heiress Ruth Lilly, was in the news a few weeks ago because of recent allegations of “questionable governance and management practices.”
I would add to these grievances questionable proofreading. I think the promotional card should have read:
Let us remember…that in the end we go to Poetry for one reason…
So along with blowing “$1 million on a Web site and a brow-raising $706,000 on a survey to determine poetry’s place in American life today,” the foundation needs to worry about firing the intern who missed the capital “P” and italics.
Michael Leong is the author of the poetry books e.s.p., Cutting Time with a Knife, Who Unfolded My Origami Brain?, and Words on Edge. His creative work has been anthologized in THE &NOW AWARDS 2: The Best Innovative Writing, Best American Experimental Writing 2018, and Bettering American Poetry, Volume 3. His co-translation, with Ignacio Infante, of Vicente Huidobro’s long poem Sky-Quake: Tremor of Heaven is forthcoming from co•im•press in late 2019. His critical monograph Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry is forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press in May 2020. He has received grants from the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts.