An Update on the Significance of Poetry

July 24, 2014

For the last week or so, critics have been having the by-this-point perfunctory debate on the value and relevance of poetry to the general American public. On Sunday, the New York Times posted articles by seven poets who responded to the question: “Does Poetry Matter?” which seemed to have been initiated by David Orr’s book review in The New York Times of actor James Franco’s Directing Herbert White: Poems, recently published by Graywolf Press.

Joining the national debate against poetry’s seemingly constantly narrated obsolescence, the Academy of American Poets posted quantitative examples that demonstrate how poetry matters in the US yesterday. The statistics included the following, among others: in America, there are 931 poetry journals actively publishing poems; 855 nonprofit organizations that present or support poetry; 278 small poetry presses actively publishing books of poems; 224 conferences and residencies that offer poetry programs, 221 graduate writing programs in poetry, which are attended by thousands of students, 100 poetry venues and sites that regularly host poetry slams; and over 35 cities across the US that offer local Poet Laureate positions.

“We’re actually having a poetry boom,” the post reads. “Poetry may be the art most suited for mobile technology.

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