“The poet is an anomaly in our culture. The goal of our culture is money and power. And that’s not what poetry is about. What is it about? That’s a hard question. It’s about anything the human mind and unconscious can produce. And that’s infinite.”
-Kunitz, Stanley. The Wild Braid, pg 97 W.W. Norton & Company, New York. 2005.
I am pleased to introduce South Jersey Poets, a collective of poets that gathers on a monthly basis to share our poetry with the community. For too long I held onto the romantic notion of being a part of a group of writers who gathered in a smokey bar or exclusive cafe to philosophize and celebrate each others genius. In acknowledging the sinking status of poetry in our culture I have come to think more realistically about the role of poets in our society. In doing so I have come to two basic conclusions:
- Poets must work together to sustain a presence in the community
- Poetry must be offered to a public audience for free on a regular basis
I would first like to speak on the collaboration of poets to create a dedicated audience. What I have found to be true in the SJ Poets Collective is that the range of poets is as diverse as the population itself. There are those with 9-5 jobs who write as a hobby, published poets with careers that pay the bills, unemployed writers dedicated to the craft and many more. Individually these poets may or may not be recognized for their talents and hard work. Working collectively these poets not only serve to inspire, energize and encourage each other but they draw attention to themselves as a multitude. Allowing social constructs, such as economic advancement or social status, to come between the growth of a community of poets is detrimental to the potential success of poetry as a popular art form.
If a collective of poets can meet up together on a monthly basis and offer their poetry for free to the public then the art of poetry itself can be revived, rejuvenated, replenished. The diversity of such a group of poets would prove to hold the interest of a crowd equally as diverse. Poetry is not intended solely for an academic audience but it is often only presented in academic spheres. Give the public free poetry readings on a regular basis. Allow the word to spread, the appeal to grow and watch as poetry itself regains position in our society’s culture.
These thoughts have inspired me personally to put such energies into gathering the poets of South Jersey in order to prove that it is not our location but our dedication that will create a true movement in this world above, this place where poetry lives.