deftness has become a substitute for compassion

I do not mean to make the “eat your vegetables because there are starving children in India” argument. But, also, c’mon. While many of the world’s poets are deeply preoccupied with war and hierarchy, with exploitation and power, there is a pervasive sinisterlessness in American poetry. There is hash and rehash of the quotidian, an alarmlessness, a niche of the nada. Deftness has become a substitute for compassion. Style a stand in for thinking and feeling...

Because so many poets face extreme violent risks in the world — and I do not mean the false risks extolled in America’s writing workshops — there is a need for American poets to own up to and reject our sheer terrorlessness, to reject aesthetic fetishization in favor not only of examining the barbarism of human experience but also in being less existential and more confrontational of our own complicity in favoring an art of theory over an art of life.

- David Biespiel, on kids these days, over at The Rumpus. It's a sharp and very quotable little essay, well worth a look - you can read the whole thing here.

Thanks to the Vehicule Press blog for pointing this out.

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