sometimes the words escape me
Youth doesn't have to mean ignorance, but elders encourage it.A fellow poet told me the other day that he'd given a reading back East and was chatting afterward with a young, newly minted MFA graduate. As the conversatiion wandered along, my friend mentioned Prufrock. The grad, whose concentration had been in the writing of poetry, looked puzzled.You know, my friend said. From Eliot's poem.The budding bard admitted he hadn't heard of Eliot.You didn't read T. S. Eliot in school?The kid shook his head. Was he any good?It's fair to wonder who the elders are that taught this young man. Are they incompetent or simply ignorant themselves? Or are they mere functionaries in a system designed to cash checks and issue degrees? Pairs of ragged claws, so to speak....
I hear you. If a person can come out of a MFA program in Poetry without at least some general recognition of Eliot/Prufrock, you have to wonder about the pedagogy behind the endeavor. No one can be expected to have read everything, as I'm increasingly reminded as I age, but you have to be exposed to certain touch points (I won't say touchstones). Probably more importantly the mentors/teachers should attempt to instill some hunger to explore poetry at large, as a whole, across cultures, and not be content with poetry as I/we happen to write it in these times.
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