...read this review this morning. Here again is that mainstream/alternative divide, except in Britain. I like the layers of complexity the writer (David Kennedy) brings out. A review should note the provenance of the book under review, however. Not to do so seems to underline the ingrown nature of the poetry toenail.

This "binary", this divide, this line in the lime... if you started with an economic analysis of the poetry world (which Kennedy touches on), and then observed the different ways various poets, critics & reviewers manipulate that economic situation (ideologically, professionally), you'd probably come up with something resembling a pale replica or minor offshoot of the political left/right divide in general (1. capitalists, 2. workers, 3. intellectuals = 1. professional published poets, 2. unpaid "marginal/progressive" poets, 3. "critics").

Kennedy remarks on the complacency trap which both sides of the divide tend to drop into. I suppose Bourdieu & American Poetry Wax Museum have probably covered this stuff with more discourse than I could ever assimilate. The professional rewards are real (academic jobs, grants, awards, royalties, fame), on the one hand, and yet the constraints (ethical, practical, aesthetic) on poetry careerism are equally real, and this contradictory situation creates all kinds of weird phenomena in the realm of poetry's critical reception (blurbism as criticism; tactical ideology as criticism; buddy networking; etc.).

Pushkin thought poets should be treated as independent literary professionals, whose "market" is the general public - reviewers, bestowers of honorary positions, and interest claques be damned. It's a nice idea, sort of like western civilization.

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