"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Working Class?

Hannah discusses "working class" poetry, elitism, and other interesting things over at her couch. I read this and said "of course." I was "brought up," as it were, by working class poets and have spent the past few years trying to shake this "past," of mine. The teachers I had early on were of the Levine-Olds school, which is fine. What isn't fine is that they tried very hard to make sure that their students had very little exposure to any poetry that didn't fit the narrow stylistic range that they endorsed. One could tell they felt threatened, but WHY? And of course, as Hannah mentions, the "working class" poets of note are usually well-paid, tenured academics who haven't worked for years. I don't write about growing up in a tiny hicktown full of lumber mills and blue collars because I lived it and it's boring and I don't feel the need to romanticize it. On the other hand, if you want to do that, fine--but when these poets begin to polemicize against "the difficult" or the "non-narrative" or whatever it is, I can't help but feel that there's something really ugly and small-minded at work.

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