And so National Poetry Month is coming to an end. Festivals, events, group activities, readings, recommended poetry collections, thousands of reviews will soon fade into time. Then there is the modern need for social media popularity in venues such as Facebook, twitter, blogs and other outlets to promote poets and their poetry. It all seems to be a diversion stealing precious time and energy that would be more productively spent in creating poems and the submission process in sharing poetry with other others in publication. I am not condemning the current obsession with social media, we at FCR maintain a well-read blog and a limited presence on Facebook and Twitter as well as photographs on Flickr of poets who read for us and who we come into contact with. We do this out of a responsibility to promote the poets who read for us and with us as well as those published in FCR. We also have been sucked into this need to promote on social media, a media that seems to me to be all about self in an age that privacy has become passé and celebrity a priority.
The Poet John Morgan said, “If poetry seems peripheral in our culture, in part it’s because we’ve been distracted by all the trivia around us. But underneath, I sense that something is going on. I feel a rumble. Maybe in the not too distant future poetry will make a comeback. Poetry is the most solitary of the arts but already—as my two park encounters suggest—it plays a part in many people’s lives, a part that isn’t fully recognized by the mass media.”*
Does recognition by mass media include social media? As Morgan states, “Poetry is the most solitary of the arts…” or are we distracted as Morgan says, “If poetry seems peripheral in our culture, in part, it’s because we’ve been distracted by all the trivia around us.” Do we contribute to this distraction by using social media?
The Poet Jack Gilbert in response to a question concerning his statement that there are two kinds of poetry said, “I think serious poems should make something happen that’s not correct or entertaining or clever. I want something that matters to my heart, and I don’t mean “Linda left me.” I don’t want that. I’ll write that poem, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about being in danger—as we all are—of dying. How can you spend your life on games or intricately accomplished things? And politics? Politics is fine. There’s a place to care for the injustice of the world, but that’s not what the poem is about. The poem is about the heart. Not the heart as in “I’m in love” or “my girl cheated on me”—I mean the conscious heart, the fact that we are the only things in the entire universe that know true consciousness. We’re the only things—leaving religion out of it—we’re the only things in the world that know spring is coming.”**
How does a well-crafted poem fit into social media? As Gilbert states, “I think serious poems should make something happen that’s not correct or entertaining or clever. I want something that matters to my heart…” How would a poem that is serious and not concerned with being entertaining or clever play out on social media?
As much as I would like to believe I am a social animal, enjoying the company of others, in the end poetry is a solitary art, a poet and their thoughts, crafted and put to paper. In a modern society, across the globe that is more concerned with celebrity via social media than substance, I am not quite sure where the art of poetry fits in. What I do know is that poets write poetry because it is who they are and no matter what changes there are in communications, social media included, the poet will always write.
*From 49 Writers
**From the Paris Review