... & what do I mean, exactly, when I align poetry and horse-race?
- thinking less about contemporary po-biz, more about Pindar and Dante.
Pegasus stamps ground in Greece, sets off 9 Muses' Pierian Spring. What's that about?
The cicada-sound of poetry displays an animal otherness. It is a tradition unto itself. This uncanniness, this "call of the fife", is propelled by a powerful motive distinct from our ordinary utilitarian pragmatic fill-in-the-blanks provisional necessitous usage.
Such functional usage differs diametrically from that of the bower-bird (poet) who must be able to grasp the potential aesthetic value hidden in the cheapest bit of driftwood (drift words). It's an innate capability.
Poetry is the horse. We're just the jockeys.
The muse (fed by Pegasus) possesses the poet : the poet sings.
I'm for literary democracy, I believe poesie springs up everywhere; as Edwin Honig wrote, it's "a buzzing in the air". At the same time, however, I believe in the literary absolute, ie. the Tradition of Pegasus the Centaur.
A nation's or culture's literature is ultimately judged by its faithfulness, not to various socological parameters or editorial juggling, but to the literary absolute.
That's the start & finish line of the only race in town.