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Poetry vs. Science and Poetry vs. Market

Canada Arts Connect Magazine sports an article by Nathaniel G Moore Got Poetry-Month-Mania?

For an entire month (though somehow I feel like this happens every few weeks) poets are endlessly paraded out on half-known and well-known blogs and discussion panels, college and national radio shows and cattled to readings series like it was the end of the genre. What is the motivation? This hyperbolic blast of focus is a misguided attempt to create a frenzy for a business that is simply irreversibly marginalized.

[…] To compare poetry-going and movie-going public is a clear-cut confession that no one in this country truly has a clue how to promote our national literary sport.

Just take a gander on Twitter, Facebook and other forms of CanLit torture, and you see that the only ones truly enthused or critical (read: aware) of poetry month are those accused or suspected of being poets or poetry publishers.

Ah, countering points of view are so refreshing. The rah-rah poetry is a bit comical, even as I participate with a post a day on the subject.

Poetry is a tiny niche market, virtually a crack, with more supply smothering demand that tends to back away in dismay it breaks free of the mobbing crowd of choice.

Poetry is sold among poets. That could be argued with not much to counter with.

If poetry is sold only to poets, how do you expand a market? Make poets have more disposable income but more important than disposable income is trained desire. Marketing is social engineering that teaches the convertible-no-market that they want to obey and o-boy-oh-buy. Create a demand. Or make more poets, which the MFA programs are busily doing. It’s not an issue if only poets buy poetry is the ratio of production to consumption is balanced right.

Science research is swapped among science. Scientists are fine with that. Otherwise it would be a fellowship of inequals with quacks sending in their observations about why some statistically significant relationship between green jelly beans a health issue must be addressed. [yes, I am thinking xkcd].

If the bar is not high enough how does one walk around without being gonged in the head with the bar, or tripping over the standards bars littering the below-knees area?

Does poetry have the rigour of science? Maybe it’s just idle chatter written down with no objective or gain beyond keeping monkey mind busy. Maybe it should push out and do more with its potential.

Maybe poetry is a science itself of knowing what came before, observing more, theorizing and testing patterns and finding out what is disprovable.

Does poetry have any benefit like science?

Eventually people outside the closed loop of research may get a benefit. That science is working doesn’t prevent home labs or flat earthers from convincing people that one should only do mantras of Creation not examine. Science goes on.

So do poets eventually invent compressions of concepts and words that filter down to non-poets?

Is literature creating some advance the way science creating tetraethoxysilane mix yields silicone being overextended in first-blush marketing excitement, extruded speculatively into medical tubing, machine gaskets, waterproof fabrics, pot holders, sieves, spoons, elastic bands in funny shapes, silky-smooth feel in hair-care products and novelty toys? The end-user doesn’t care about the science or the process.

What have poets made as a concept lately that filtered down?

Paul Mackan in the Dead Poet talk at Tree talked about the legacy of W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) who gifted culture with “Make the punishment fit the crime” and “love makes the world go round”. It becomes an anonymous saying internalized and owned without source by society just like kitchen doodads don’t have a traceable origin.

Should poetry shape choices people make? Should it widen options in the mental toolbox of readers? And send out memes that ripple away and get picked up on by people who didn’t read it firsthand?

Going back to William Schwenk Gilbert, “I always voted at my party’s call,/ And I never thought of thinking of myself at all.” (from H.M.S. Pinafore) Any chance that awareness of silliness of obedience will go viral?

Can poetry act as a prod to say, pay attention to this or that or the other. Avert your eyes from that unspeakable. We mention such and such only in the most delicate or bashing fashions.

Is this distinct from other outcomes of thought? Is poetry able to do something different than casual conversation? Than an essay? Than a novel? Than oral story telling? Are all of these also science and if we were to draw comparisons, a novel is biology, oral story telling, archeology and an essay is a chemical lab?

Poetry might be any of these, some of it in the research lab, some of it archiving findings in strata, others just messy tomb raiders and other companion trades of poems as medical receptionist.

Poetry is a very big thing. As a concept at least. As a thing with an impact on social shapes of society, understandings and manipulations of our world that guide out attitude thus behaviour, potentially.

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