I heard a story on NPR once about country-western radio focus groups. The test subjects were asked to rate the songs they heard from 1 to 5, with 5 being “Most Exciting.” The songs that were deemed best for radio weren’t the 5’s, or the 1’s. They were the 3’s, because 3’s didn’t interrupt people’s routine — they didn’t create any overwhelming feelings. I see a buttload of bloodless poetry that inexplicably seems to be shooting for a 3 — there’s no big feelings in sight — no vulnerability — it’s too-cool-for-school. And nobody’s fucking! I don’t know if poets are doing it on purpose, or on accident, or which, if either, is more excusable. Opaque poems are a great place to hide your feelings — even from yourself.
- Jennifer L. Knox, warming up for an interview with Rachel McKibbens over at the Best American Poetry blog. You can read the whole thing here.