Amy King’s Third Way

Amy King’s Third Way

Stein may not be your tray of brownies like she is for Amy King, but in the course of her guest post over at the Poetry Foundation King makes a sweet observation, not without pertinence to the Canadian situation:  

Most of us, I think, are exposed to smalls swaths cut from the vastness of poetry, focused on our own shores, but that is a betrayal created by a myopic education system and the mentality of “best of” lists and ranking systems we’re expected to fight through for recognition. When I see “Best of” in a title, I ask, “Best for what?” On the surface, ours is a misguided view of what poetry can be, what it can do. There is an American poetry spectrum that seems to be pinned on either end by notions of “accessibility” and “obscurity” or “mainstream” and “avant-garde.” Even our two major critics, Helen Vendler and Marjorie Perloff, are considered coach-advocates for those camps. Such western concepts mislead with their dichotomous proclivities and really only serve the business end of poetry relegated to the creation of anthologies, book promotion and sales, distribution of reading funds and platforms, academic job descriptions and canon-making syllabi. They obscure what poetry does in the world, to and for people, and how poetry broadens and deepens perspectives as lenses we are born to, craft from, and process through.

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