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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Evie Shockley, Top Ten Reasons Why It’s Okay That There Are “Too Many Poets”

10. Because there used to be too few poets (and they really did all know each other then).

9. Because it appears to be okay that there are too many baseball fans. (Granted, that is a bit subjective – but this whole thing is subjective, right?)

8. Because employing the logic of capitalism (supply and demand) to explain the production of art is like using a Minnie Mouse sticker to close a surgical incision—it might seem effective at some point, but it is the wrong tool for the job.

7. Because many of them would otherwise become novelists.

6.Because poets—in the practice of their art—don’t leave a terribly large carbon footprint.

5. Because, as Nikky Finney has said (and this is badly paraphrased), a poet is someone who can’t not write poetry. There aren’t too many of those types. The rest will sooner or later stop writing poetry. All’s well that ends well.

4. Because poets regularly come out of jail, but only rarely go into jail. (The statistics behind this claim are based on an informal survey of my memory, so the margin of error is ±

3. Because, although it is true that poets, like rabbits, have a taste for green, poets generally do not eat through your whole garden, literally or metaphorically (or if they do, they write a poem about how very good it was).

2. Because more poets means more points of view, more experiences, more lexicons, more aesthetic choicesa wider range of voices, by any measure—will be available to the poetry reader. And, likewise, more and different readers of poetry will be called forth. If not inevitably, very probably.

1. Because the existence—and cultivation—of a growing number of people in the world who have a jones for language, a passion for truth, and a weakness for beauty cannot be a bad thing.

Evie Shockley is the author of one book of poetry, a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), and two poetry chapbooks, 31 words * prose poems (Belladonna* Books, 2007) and The Gorgon Goddess (Carolina Wren Press, 2001). Her poems also appear and are forthcoming in numerous journals and anthologies, including Indiana Review, The Southern Review, La Petite Zine, Columbia Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Hambone, No Tell Motel, Harvard Review, Crab Orchard Review, HOW2, nocturnes (re)view, Achiote Seeds, Tuesday; An Art Project, Poetry Daily: Poems from the World's Most Popular Poetry Website, Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the African Diaspora, From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, and Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. She currently co-edits jubilat; in 2007, she guest-edited a special issue ofMiPOesias (called "~QUEST~")

Evie Shockley blogs at Red Room: Where The Writers Are