Commentary Poetry

Link: Why should poets engage with ‘ordinary people’?

Why should poets engage with ‘ordinary people’?  They don’t exist.

Ordinary is just the word we use for the less intellectually sophisticated.

“The best part of human language, properly so called, is derived from reflection on the acts of the mind itself.” So wrote Coleridge in the great 17th chapter of Biographia Literaria that deals with his friend Wordsworth’s argument that the proper diction for poetry consisted in language taken from the mouths of men in real life, under the influence of natural feelings. The language, in Wordsworth’s own words, of men “in low and rustic life… because in that condition our feelings coexist in a state of greater simplicity… are more easily comprehended and more durable”. Tosh, said Coleridge.  CLICK BELOW TO READ ON……

By JunkChuck

Native, Militant Westsylvanian (the first last best place), laborer, gardener, and literary hobbyist (if by literary you mean "hack"). I've had a bunch of different blogs, probably four, due to a recurring compulsion to start over. This incarnation owes to a desire to dredge up the best entries of the worst little book of hand-scrawled poems I could ever dream of writing, salvageable excerpts from fiction both in progress and long-abandoned. and a smattering of whatever the hell seems to fit at any particular moment. At first blush, I was here just to focus on old, terrible verse, but I reserve the right to include...anything. Maybe everything, certainly my love of pulp novels, growing garlic, the Pittsburgh Steelers and howling at the moon--both figuratively and, on rare occasions, literally.

2 replies on “Link: Why should poets engage with ‘ordinary people’?”

Dana Gioia wrote a fantastic essay about the insular nature of poetry called “Can Poetry Matter.” It’s a little dated but the problems he outlined still persist; I haven’t come across anyone else who has diagnosed the issue so completely.


I’ll look for this. I’m very interested in the chasm between what my imagination tells me poets and poetry should be versus how they are perceived, recognizing that the manner in which many poets present themselves begs for the disconnect and has as much or more to do with it than it does with potential readers. The inability of full-time poets to make decent livings seems to me a self-fulfilling prophecy, as so many talented–and well-trained–poets languish (i chose that word carefully) in academia, which in my experience thrives on insularity. I have two friends who are professors of poetry–one commented earlier this year that the poems I write are “cute, but ambitious”–the other, well, I enjoy his company too much to discuss it with him. I’d hate to have to punch a friend in the mouth.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s