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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

strange tango: poets and academia

thanks Conrad : )

Somewhere in the ether (or in Heaven or Brahma or Poetry Valhalla) Ted is pleased at being so warmly remembered last summer. I'm positive some of his poetry has already joined the English language poetic canon with the likes of Ted's favourites among the Lake District Romantics and the major Canadian People's Poets like Milt & Big Al.

Your comment about being ignored by the academic community is interesting, something I've often speculated on myself, tho never in print so far as I remember.

My favourite Canadian poets are almost exclusively non-academics. Acorn and Purdy (and Ted) were all proudly self-educated autodidacts. I believe the living CanPoet who most exemplifies this trad of People's Poetry is bill bissett, another self-taught poet.

All these poets have thoroughly educated themselves in the traditions and techniques of English language poetry, but the fact that all of them are self-taught gives rise to the suspicion that there is something bordering on the destructive regarding too much academic association. My friend jonbaku and I have discussed this seeming contradiction many times.

Jonbaku (who has a PhD) has toiled in the minefields of several of Canada's most prestigious universities, and these mostly negative experiences in academia have caused him to now believe that academia is stultifiying and even counter creative to many of the arts.

I've always found it ironic that profs (and yes, librarians) make their livings off the work of those often more talented - the creators of art, rather than these johnny-come-later interpreters, deconstructors and of course arbiters.

But these two solitudes need each other - the academy for its very fodder, and the 'true' or 'real' poets for the exposure and canonization - immortality - I suspect all poets wish for.

To be painfully honest, many of the arts are hot house labours of love, with woefully small audiences. Poetry, or at least good poetry of the caliber of these Canuck People's Poets, would likely fade from public awareness were it not for academia.

And so the dance continues between the academics and the 'Wild Ones', the true poets ...

Conrad, this has been an interesting start to a possibly ongoing dialogue about the interaction between academia and poetry. Thank you for broaching this topic.

peace & poetry power!

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