Are Audiences 'Dead"? Are (non-performance) Poets Simply Writing to Each Other?

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Thread: Are Audiences 'Dead"? Are (non-performance) Poets Simply Writing to Each Other?

  1. #1

    Are Audiences 'Dead"? Are (non-performance) Poets Simply Writing to Each Other?

    James said on another thread:
    Rimbaud decided poetry wasn't worth it & stopped writing.
    . Recently, a Canadian poet (Brian Fawcett), wrote to me that he had given up on poetry some time ago, because audiences did not understand poetry, knew nothing of its nexus. It was a waste of time. He declined to explain.

    What do YOU think? I regard the current plethora of poetic 'kinds' bumping heads or flowing thru each other as a transitional period towards. . . who knows? Or are we actually witnessing the death throes of an art form unsuited to our fucked-up world? Can we talk about 'audience' without getting into an interminable and unwanted 'discussion' about a definition of poetry.
    Last edited by clark; December 16th, 2020 at 12:21 AM.


    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  2. #2
    New poetry show on sky I watched lemm sissay on a TV walk and talk programme...poetry seems on the up
    The only one who can heal you is you.

  3. #3
    I was active in the Dallas-Ft.Worth writing community from the eighties onward, writing novels, short stories and poetry, and often recited poetry to groups at various times and also went to some "slams."
    My audiences were encouraging but often they were mainly poets themselves. There were several local poetic magazines also. Where we are now is rural and most I've talked to have no interest, but I've kept up with the Dallas paper, and there is still a thriving art community, including poetry. Still, interest in poetry has waned overall. Now it's movies and video games. As long as there are journals asking for poetry they'll have to do as my audience (although this site gives me encouragement.
    "Put not your trust not in princes, in the children of men,
    in whom there is no salvation."
    Psalm 146

    Timely, isn't it?

  4. #4
    And what a legacy Rimbaud left for us, at such a young age. (I've been doing some research on his work for another project I have going).

    I don't think poetry can ever disappear. It serves too many needs for too many people. Today's experimental and extremely edgy poetry is often difficult to understand and I seldom try reading it unless the poet has an established "name" -- to me that name at least makes it possibly worth my time exploring it. Or if such poetry appears in a renowned journal or magazine-- then I pay attention.

    Funny, Clark, I was working up a thread asking what people want, expect, or hope to get from poetry-- then your post comes sailing in.

    It's often been said that poets write for other poets and looking over all the poems inspired by other poems over all the years, that's quite possible. It's still an audience-- poets reading poets.

    At the same time non-poets have often been touched by a classic poem (one that fits their trials and tribulations of the day) so if the right poem come along, a new audience can be born. And who among us hasn't at one time or another been deeply touched by a Hallmark type card (I don't know how to describe them for areas outside the U.S. but they're simple and often beautiful and touching--even sentimental-- often rhyming poems.)

    I personally think poetry's going to play an even larger part in people's lives as we're bombarded from every direction with data, information, ads, noise, junk, stuff. People still have a need to be "companioned" (as Edward Hirsch said that's what poetry does-- through it people are "companioned.") I wrote an essay on a similar topic but as it pertains to the coming importance of flash literature in general-- and in the essay I cited several studies researchers have done on the topic. OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters published it ("Flash Fiction: A Brief, But (Likely) Necessary Literature") and then translated it into Russian too. Then in the last couple of months they republished it in another web setting (it's also part of my chapbook). So it's something I also think about often.

    Now, is there any money in it? Not much at all. And as some say, money's what makes the world go round. (I think over several years I've earned all of $2,000 for my poetry-- over *several* years.) So that's a legitimate reason to quit, right there. But that won't stop poets.

    I get pleasure out of writing a poem that appeals to me and which manages to touch another person (a reader, an audience). I treasure every "fan" letter I've ever received too. That means a lot to find out someone appreciates our work. I also think that with the omnipresence of the 'net in our lives, more and more people who need to be "companioned" will be looking into either writing or reading or learning more about poetry. Due to heavy use of computers I think new poetry audiences will soon join the old audiences. I think it's here to stay.

    Thanks for the topic thread. You've helped me convince myself (for now at least) there's still huge, maybe even as yet unrecognized value in the small pieces that don't take a lot of time to read. Poetry, and flash literature in general, can still offer a bit of thought and peace and relief in this fast- paced, data- filled, hyphenated, and gone- crazy world.
    Last edited by Pamelyn Casto; December 16th, 2020 at 05:49 PM.
    Free Download of My Chapbook: Flash Fiction: A Primer
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    List Stories: Lists of the Literary Kind. See my essay at Hidden Content

  5. #5
    This is a question related on how to gain an audience. Has anyone considered tweeting poetry to other talented poets? I don't know much about the poetry world. Singers sometimes use YouTube to promote themselves. That's how they gain the attention of an executive. I am thinking here it can gain an attention of a publishing company. I reminds me of bloggsworth's anecdote (his post). It's also about connections. To have a voice in poetry IMO, you can't ignore technology. I mean if you have the voice people like an audience will follow. Such as on Twitter and on Facebook. I think because of thinking these thoughts that maybe writing forums could have a Twitter feed in the future that connects with the forum if it is possible. That platform could encourage people to seek poetry. Poetry enthusiasts and "amateurs that want to have fun." People communicate with long distances. The world is becoming more interconnected. I'd be a shame to waste such an opportunity. I recommend it as a prospect. Businesses run with these social media platforms as do applications such as Spotify. (maybe the same is applicable to storytellers or micro stories)

    To help add to the original discussion. Maybe it is poems of old times people refer. But I do not know their enigmatic qualities and if these can be imitated. To imitate some other writer in poetry is something I do not know how to do.

    When I gave advice to Spotify to add Facebook to their platform they listened. Because I said my mother was a computer illiterate and I never mean to say that in a bad way. The question was would you recommend spotify to your mother and why?

    I remember a joke post once. It was on my mother's whatsapp feed. She saw a group of people in a picture. The caption read: this is how we socialize. The joke or punchline was that now people use social media to do so. Before in previous times people would gather in their houses. That was a group of elderly people sitting in chairs were in the picture.

    Depends on how ambitious people want to be. To grow you could use the connected world. But in doing so maybe you need to email them? Twitter jumps out at me more than Facebook. Sharing posts on a Facebook or twitter feed would connect more than a world but a multitude of people with the same interests.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  6. #6
    As far as I know, the reason Rimbaud stopped writing poetry had nothing to do with 'poetry not being worth it' . Which means I did not and do not agree with James on that point.

    Why Rimbaud stopped writing had much more to do with anger at the end of the liaison with Verlaine.
    For me poets write for whoever wants to read their poetry, and that's all that matters.
    Hidden Content
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    (we even allow simultaneous submissions!)

  7. #7
    My fav poetry quote by John cooper Clark
    No one has ever said I need to make sum money so I'll write a book of poetry....
    The only one who can heal you is you.

  8. #8
    On the issue of audience, my opinion is up and down like a ________________(fill in blank. you're poets)_________________ on a busy pay night. I dunno. Mostly I write a poem because it's there and the language is crying to me that it wants to try. Sometimes someone else will utter a few words that ring in my mind and demand "to tell the rest of the story." (Wittgenstein" 'uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.") Sometimes I say to myself, "I'm going to write a poem on X. Or Y. Or Z." (rare). Sometimes I say to myself, "I'm going to write a poem on R to P so that they will react in Q way." (rare as hen's teeth). So mostly I write poetry to Me. But "me" did not drop unaided from an unknown tree. Like Tennyson's Ulysses, "I am a part of all that I have met", the corollary of which is that when I write to Me, I am also writing to my culture, my "audience understood." I can get a bearing on audience when I'm in its presence, but when I think about it, write about it, "intellectualize" about it, I can soon get lost.


    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  9. #9
    Slam and the internet have democratized poetry. The audience has grown but the average quality has diminished. Poetry has gone from High Art to entertainment. Those of us who still want to make art feel swept under the bus by the proliferation of pop-poetry, heavy on catharsis and emotional triggers but lacking in transformative power. The audience for that kind of poetry is still small. Coffee-shops, back rooms, sometimes the street.
    Last edited by TL Murphy; December 18th, 2020 at 06:24 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    South Africa - Durban or Boksburg
    A friend and I were discussing Poetry and in particular one that I recited in 1973 in class when I was 7. It had moved me at that young age and I remember it fondly so I revisited it again this past week.

    I have never been a poet but unless you have been touched by events ditties are all that will twitch your curtains. In today's society of quick and easy TV and junk there is no magic in words.

    Maybe Covid will tickle emotions enough for Poetry to count.

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