An Audience of Few

As April continues, we come to the 5th day of National Poetry Month, 2024. Two days ago, I posted with the title The Audience of One. That may be my individual case but in the broader world, observers in the know suggest poetry earns only a miniscule audience. Various reasons this is true may include television, the internet, social media, etc. Lots and lots of distractions.

In my quest to gain an appreciation of the art form and answer some of the questions I posed (in my April 3rd post), I studied what other people were saying about poetry, what they were writing (both prose and poetry) and how historic Masters had approached their art. Admittedly, that was something of a slog. No kidding. Samuel Johnson’s (1709-1784) compilation Lives of the Poets features 52 poets, few of whom I knew and fewer I actually appreciated. Going forward, it was a relief to find particular poets I enjoyed, but also a large number I didn’t care for. Vive la difference!

As I searched for commentaries about poetry, there were a few surprises. I knew, for instance, that newspapers and general interest magazines often featured poetry. Today, niche literary journals are the most common place for poetry that gets published. As one writer described it, “it can take a lot of hard work to sift through them [literary journals] when deciding what to read.” Indeed. Discouraging before you even get started.

Occasionally, I’ve had the good fortune to unearth a discussion of poetry in various publications. One from The New York Times (June 2014) has the title POETRY:  Who Needs It? It’s not behind a paywall, so you can read it for yourself.

The author, William Logan, writes honestly about poetry being “loathed by many, and bought by almost no one.” He should know. He’s a professor of English at the University of Florida. In this NYT commentary, he notes the curious irony that “big magazines and even the newspapers began declining about the time they stopped printing poetry.”

Certainly, Logan poses legitimate questions and even suggests a “blue-sky proposal.” My poem/post for today won’t follow suit. The sonnet simply seeks divine guidance for words that are true and needful … and offered in honor of the Creator who made us.

At War, a sonnet

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