I’ve just learned (via Orson Scott Card) that the National Endowment of the Arts is suffering a remarkable renewal. It seems that, since 2001, the head of the NEA has been a businessman and a professional poet who has never been positioned on the authoritarian side of the professor’s podium, a man named Dana Gioia.
I’m now in the process of reading his article from the Atlantic Monthly, Can Poetry Matter?, which discusses the fact that much poetry written today isn’t even *intended* to matter. A key quote:
Most editors run poems and poetry reviews the way a prosperous Montana rancher might keep a few buffalo around—not to eat the endangered creatures but to display them for tradition’s sake.
This is essentially the reason that I’ve given up poetry for the most part – I was trained in the art of saying nothing, and saying it well. But it was no way to make a living without a lot of long shots.
At any rate, I see a glimmer of hope that Gioia may play a part in a revival of poetry that actually means something, and may be transforming the NEA into an organization that decent people admire, rather than revile