This was deemed wisdom of yore, to distinguish the public from private weal; things sacred from things profane; to prohibit a promiscuous commerce between the sexes; to give laws to married people; to plan out cities; to engrave laws on [tables of] wood. Thus honor accrued to divine poets, and their songs.
To continue on our romp through the maddening alien landscape that is poetry, we will address what one might do if one wanted to restore poetry, rather than destroy it. Now let us be clear: this is by no means an endorsement of poetry, if anything, this ought to let you know what to watch out for.
A confusion arises for us, because in all of the fine arts it would seem that the strength of the art is in the combination of the genius of certain artists combined with willingness to finance their work and a fair enough slice of the public able to appreciate them. To this end, most people trying to ‘restore the arts’ do any of three things: 1. try to search out and promote young notables, 2. try to secure funds for artists, 3. try to raise awareness about art (works or mediums) that they like.
This is completely backwards. To see why this is, simply apply these tactics to something like Baseball. If baseball, the great and venerable, is somehow waning, do we increase talent searches for possible talents for the minor and major leagues, try to find more big-name sponsors, and get money for campaigns to make baseball cool or sexy? No. Obviously what you do is try to get more local ball clubs and support children taking up baseball recreationally, since you know that all three desired outcomes: (1. geniuses, 2. funds, 3. appreciation) are rooted in a common practice of kids screwing around with baseball equipment and people playing games for fun. This immediately creates the two major possibilities: the geniuses (they will show themselves only by playing) and the appreciation – knowing the game and enjoying playing it helps enjoying watching it. And those who appreciate it are more likely to fund it as well. Let funding campaigns limit themselves to particular ballclubs.
In fact, probably most of what is done to promote the arts these days is a surefire way to destroy them; so take note, anti-poets, the following program!
1. lots of searches for a new poet genius,
2. demands of general funds for poetry classes, public readings and museum exhibitions,
3. devote time to ‘awareness’ campaigns of all kinds. The more ‘relevant & sexy’ the better!
People are already at work at this — you need only pick up their slack!