John Deming: Poetry Isn’t Dead.

Apropos to my recent review of Ben Lerner’s excellent novel Leaving the Atocha Station, John Deming responds to a screed against poetry by Alexandra Petri:

You claim poetry isn’t “vital.” I will try to explain. A sponge and dish soap are vital to me because they make change in the kitchen. To me, at least, poetry is vital because it has a similar effect on the life of my mind.

Petri’s blog post rips into Richard Blanco, the inaugural poet, who seems to be unfairly the target of much criticism of late.

She writes: “You can tell that a medium is still vital by posing the question: Can it change anything?” Her resolution of the question, when Deming makes quick work of, lacks any of the interest (“poems as machines”) and nuance explored by Lerner (who, of course, is a working poet). As Deming mentions, Petri seems more fed up with her vision of poetry as a “culture”—grants in particular—than with any actual poems or poets themselves.