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Zach,

I really am impressed at your voice & capacity for vivid expression through crafting words.

Your argument begins with the premise that all old people have this horrible, narrow view of the young folks writing poetry (and because you have not captured who has said what to motivate this piece, I have no ability to check back & compare your interpretation to the original sources).

Personally, I have never seen nor experienced nor read about this problem. I’m a poet that was lucky enough to take some undergrad classes with a good poet as well as hang out with poetry MFA students. Anytime I mention I write poetry to older people, I generally get a reaction along the lines of said person feeling this imagined weight of their own ignorance regarding poetry & therefore trying to escape the responsibility of reading my work, because of this pressure they’ve put on themselves. Most other responses (from those who read/appreciate poetry) are generally interest in reading said poem, letting the poem stand or fall on its own merits (a subjective process).

I have no idea why random ‘intellectuals’ are bashing and totally missing the point of online poetry cultures…which are such amazing and beautiful spaces!! The one thing that makes me sad about them is me wondering how much they are reading across a broad spectrum….because of my own intense commitment to the idea that to write, we must read…it is good for a generation to firmly stand for its own identity…..but to lose connection to our rich intellectual inheritance just because the most immediate couple generations can be foolish is…well.

Second, I want to push back against your identity argument a little bit as well. While on the one hand, we absolutely have the right for our individuality to be respected. On the other, humans are social beings, and without creating space for people who don’t think like us to offer critique, we have waayyyy less options for growth. Sure, I’ve been a poet since my first limerick in 3rd grade (I will never forget the feeling of that realization), but it didn’t really mean anything until I started *living* that identity…and living it meant embracing critique so I could get better. Of course the kind of generic, its all crap, critique is asinine, as you point out. I just thought your identity argument threw out some of the good along with the bad. I think it is good to strive for some consensus on the meanings of important words, and when we are so committed to ‘my identity is poet and nobody can challenge that’ we create some barriers that end up stagnating both ourselves & our communities. We don’t have to have a frenetically policed boundary on our identity definition in order to stand firm in what we know about ourselves.

Anyways, I think you are quite bright and talented, and I’d like to be friends and hear more of your thinking. I hope you see my writing in the spirit of excited discussion with which it is intended (and if you don’t, I’d appreciate your reasoning should you be so inclined). Looking forward to a potentially mutually enriching conversation!

Amanda

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