In the high school I attended, the English curriculum covered only traditional poets, mostly people who’d died a century earlier, the poetry rhymed, highly stylized, rigid—poetry that, for me, had meaning only in an historical sense. In college, those same poets popped up again, but, thankfully, the works of a few contemporary poets were included as well. That’s when I discovered Nikki Giovanni, Randall Jerrell, Robison Jeffers, Sylvia Plath, Langston Hughes, and, most important for me, Raymond Carver. Their work demonstrates that a poem should be, above all else, a vehicle to reach, entertain, challenge, console, and arouse its audience, that it shouldn’t be highbrow, pretentious nonsense (though such poetry has its place if only to torment high school literature students), that it doesn’t have to be the darling of academia or the folks down at the poetry slam to be important. Poetry, I believe, should be a construct that transcends the definitions that would confine it.
- C.S. Fuqua, in interview over at The Maynard. You can read the whole thing here.