4/6/09

academic v. non-academic poetry stance

Okay. I've been trying to think what I want to write about here and so far I'm still not very inspired except to say that usually when I say that I'm 'not very academic', I mainly mean that I am not functioning or speaking from within an academic context. Unlike most other poets I know, I do not have an MFA and do not necessarily aspire to one; I haven't been entrenched in academe since my undergraduate years which came to an end in the mid 90's--and although I had a largely enjoyable and positive undergraduate experience, somewhere in the intervening years, I've come to think of academic entrenchment as being somewhat insular and exclusionary.

Of course, a lot of things are insular and exclusionary in their own ways.

However, when it comes to the contemporary poetry scene, even though it's a pretty multifaceted and diverse scene, I have sometimes found myself feeling excluded from certain conversations (or maybe not so much excluded as just not as privy to them) due to my somewhat non-academic background. Certainly, I am well-read when it comes to poetry and even poetry criticism and theory and such, but sometimes it seems like if I want to take part in certain dialogues then I have to purposely assert myself or insert myself into those dialogues and occassionally I worry that this insertion may be unwelcome because I am not coming from a certain background or a certain community or a certain network or whatever. Then too, that could just be my own neurotic insecurity rearing its silly little hydra head or tentacles.

Also, perhaps semi-related, I sometimes find myself feeling strangely 'in-between' in that even though I don't identify as an academic poet, I also don't identify as an 'outsider' poet. Then again, I'm sure most poets feel in-between or misfit-like or misplaced in their own ways. Not many people love labels, after all, right?

One thing I really like about the online poetry community, which I have become increasingly involved with in the last five years or so, is that it serves as a sort of equalizer in such regards, in that any poet can attempt to make her voice heard throught the channels and forums of her choice and I think that persistence in such regards will eventually pay off, or at least it has for me. Of course, even the online poetry community is exclusionary, as it is excluded to those with an internet connection, a personal computer, and a certain luxury of time.

More on this later.