by Joseph Erm
The tragedy of an age — an age such as ours — that celebrates mediocrity and a delirium constructed by endlessly scatter-casting the mundane is that, in the end, we no longer have songs worth singing or, if they exist, we tire of them too quickly. Yet this still-new century has been but the heir of the age that proceeded it — an age withered and emasculated by post-modernism and its effete insistence — still echoing in our ears — that nothing is worth doing, that the ignoble suffers no difference from the noble, that consumption is better than creation. And the persistence of this voice, if we give it room and allow it to guide our hearts, will eventually wring from us even a sense of tragedy. It’s the poison in the king’s ear.
So then, before this tragedy convinces us that there is no tragedy after all, we need the real poets to come back from the wilderness and cock it all up. For what often passes as poetry these days is something made between the university tower and the circus tent. In the tower, it is weak and obscure, a thing turned by clammy, flaccid hands. In the tent, it is made a spectacle for an audience that can only concentrate in increments of a hundred and forty characters. So the empire is served by caps and charlatans
For poetry to reassert itself as the progenitor of culture and not its cur, something revolutionary must occur again. Ring the bells, and call up the bone poets. Poetry belongs in the street. We should be calling it up from somewhere between the gut and the gutter. Fuck Levine, fuck Merwin, fuck Hall and Collins, those husks. We can no longer afford their silk. We need something lean and muscular, a poetry that exits the room with a growl.
Joseph Erm is a poet and visual artist primarily interested in the city. He has a B.A. in English Literature, an M.S. in Urban Studies, and M.F.A. coursework in Poetry. Despite the mountain of offal that passes for poetry these days, he remains hopeful.
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