Tag Archives: realism

Poetry in Decline- Is a Revolution Needed?

– g emil reutter

Cover of the Summer 2012 edition of the Fox Chase Review

Cover of the Summer 2012 edition of the Fox Chase Review

Salt Publishing based in the United Kingdom recently announced they are discontinuing publication of single author poetry collections. The Guardian article notes the cause of the announcement:

“Official figures from Nielsen BookScan show a sharp decline in the overall poetry market in the last year. There was growth of around 13% in 2009, when the market was worth £8.4m, followed by small declines in 2010 and 2011, and then a major drop of 18.5% volume and 15.9% value in 2012, when the overall value of the market fell to £6.7m.”

While we know that poetry publishing caters to a niche market and very few poets make a living writing, it is sad news that a prominent British publisher who was dedicated to the publication of poetry has withdrawn from the market.  There appears to be a disconnect.

diane sahms-guarnieri wsp 2Diane Sahms-Guarnieri , poetry editor of The Fox Chase Review places fault directly on the establishment and Universities with a call for promotion of realism.

“This is very unfortunate news coming from the UK that Salt will no longer be publishing Poetry.  With many small presses in America closing due to increased publishing costs and decreased sales, poets are almost forced to do the unthinkable (self – publish).  Hopefully, Poetry in America will have a resurgence of readers/sales, but I think in order for this to happen Poetry will have to connect more with the masses of readers and thinkers, and get its head out of the thoughts of the controlling groups of Elitists in Universities.  Let’s face it, Poetry is Poetry and Art is Art and when either genre tries to become what it’s not it loses its soul.  Poetry has lost its way in America – it’s an exclusionary country club that does not allow for realism, rather it’s fragmented and its howl (and not a Ginsberg “Howl”) is more like a slow dying Yawp, with an aftermath of wine glasses clinking and Brie to the giggles of many self-indulgent, stream of consciousness – nothingness.”

Guarnieri concludes with hope, “Poetry is dying a slow death and until the revolution of realism flows through its veins again (intravenous is where we are at), then many American publishers will join up with it unfortunate cousin in the UK, lying still in a coffin.  Bring on the Revolution!”

larry robinLarry Robin, a longtime promoter of poetry in Philadelphia takes on a different point of view.

“Robin’s Book Store closed last December after 76 years, Moonstone Arts Center closed as a venue as well, since it was dependent on Robin’s Book Store for the space (Please note that Moonstone continues to present poetry every Wednesday at Fergie’s Pub and other programs at other locations, seewww.moonstoneartscenter.org) How does this relate to Salt Publishing? “Talk is cheap.” if you don’t support the organizations who do the things you like then they will not be able to continue. Yes, the economy is bad; yes, you can find it cheaper on line, Yes, you can leave it to others to support them. And then there were none!”

Robin concludes with a look at poets themselves:

“How many poetry books did you buy last year? How many readings did you go to and left without buying the poet’s book or making a donation to the organization who organized the reading? How do you think things get paid for?  The problem is not them, it is us. Each of us are responsible for what we do, for how we act, for what we support, for how we spend our money. For the cost of three lattes or beers or a cheap dinner, you can buy the poetry book at the next reading you go to. The book will last forever, you can  read it again and again, you can give it to a friend and pass it on to your grandchild. You can say, “here is a book that is out of print, it is a poet I really liked, it is autographed because I got it at a reading I went to, you will like it.”

In an age when “Inclusion” is an iconic word for progress some say those at the top of the poetry mountain have built a wall denying entry. With DIY publishing, small letter press publishers and POD technology available the masses are drawing near. The question remains, can the establishment be toppled? Larry Robin made an outstanding point, go out and buy a poetry book!  What say you?

g emil reutter


– g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa.