Poetry as Site of Resistance
by Jeremy Schmall
If you’re willing to argue with me when I say that nearly every poetry book published in the last 30 years is an abject failure, it’s likely you’re among the small group of people across the country who consider themselves poets. For everyone else, poetry simply doesn’t exist outside of high school textbooks. Poets do not appear on talk shows, do not perform on late night TV, and it’s increasingly unlikely their books will be reviewed in prominent publications like The New York Times or the Washington Post. It’s common knowledge in the publishing industry that even the rare “blockbuster” poetry books sell laughably small numbers compared with verifiable “failures” in the fiction and memoir world. In almost every measure we use to gauge success—money earned, books sold, widespread popular relevance, public recognition—poetry today is an absolute failure. My argument is that’s a good thing.