Quote Originally Posted by TL Murphy View Post
There is an inherent dilemma in the question, "should a poem be defensible?" In academic circles (which is the driving authority, despite the Beats and Bukowski, of any artistic institution) this situation is paramount because a work of art in the academic world must show its contribution to the greater relevance of artistic evolution.

On the other hand, pure artistic expression must be free of cultural expectations. And yet for art to be relevant socially, it must engage a cultural context and in that way the artist should be able to show that relevance. The point is - what is cultural relevance? Is it the main stream culture at large or is it the experimental spark of innovation. Taking this nuance further, does defending a poem's relevance compromise its innovative reach?
But isn't this why most critics don't create and most academics are not artists? Studying "contribution to the greater relevance of artistic evolution" is a fine and noble pursuit but surely it is entirely different from the nuts and bolts of creativity...

Your question seems to assume that a writer cannot write freely while also writing in a way that is conscientious and aware of the socio-political landscape or whatever...and I think that is demonstrably a false premise. If anything being willing and able to defend ones work is usually the mark of an independent mind, not a compromised one.

I know of no instance where being aware of cultural context - and being able to defend ones work - has impacted creativity. Do you? What tends to be called "cultural expectations" comes down to basically "not being jerk", and the rules tend to be lenient. Enough that unless one is intent on writing some extremely transgressional subject matter in an extremely obnoxious way I don't know if there can be any threat to innovation from mainstream culture at large.